Ann Budge admits she has a “tinge of regret” over allowing Craig Levein to combine the roles of Hearts manager and director of football.
Levein was sacked as manager last week, 26 months after stepping back into the dugout.
The former Scotland boss worked alongside Budge from even before she took over the club in May 2014, going on to play a key role in the appointments of two head coaches, Robbie Neilson and Ian Cathro, plus recruiting players and reshaping the club’s youth department.
And she now thinks Levein may have bitten off more than he could chew when he resumed his managerial role.
“I questioned deeply whether it was the right thing to do, to allow Craig to have both roles,” said Budge, who is Hearts chair and chief executive.
“It wasn’t my suggestion, it was the suggestion of one of the other board members.
“It wasn’t Craig’s suggestion initially either. He went away and thought about it and said yes, he really wants to do it. I had quite a long chat with him about the implications if that wasn’t to work.
“Do I regret it? Possibly, yes. Clearly it didn’t work so there has to be a tinge of regret.”
Hearts have been hit with a string of injuries last season and this but Budge claimed she had “pushed the boat out” this year to alleviate the affects.
And she felt the time was right to act after taking eight points from the opening 11 Ladbrokes Premiership matches.
“It was not a nice thing to do,” Budge said. “It’s not nice to basically relieve someone of their duties. It’s not something I wanted to do, it’s not something I enjoyed doing for a second.
“That said, Craig was as I would have expected, totally professional about the whole thing, very mature.
“Yes, he hoped to have longer to achieve what he wanted to achieve but he has been in football an awfully long time and he knows that eventually action was going to have to be taken.
“I had essentially set myself a target almost of giving a full round of fixtures.
“I wanted to give a fair crack at the whip to see whether the players we brought in and the players we had in place were going to gel.
“The injuries didn’t help but you can’t keep talking about injuries. We needed a performance. We brought in extra players in the summer just in case we had another problem with injuries the way we had last year.
“So we had the size of squad that everybody believed should be able to compete.”
Budge explained why Levein was being kept on to continue rebuilding the club’s infrastructure until his contract expires next summer.
“I rate him very highly,” she said. “He has lots and lots of experience. The number of departments within the football operation are immense. He still has a lot to offer.
“Because he was so focused on the first team in the last few months, a number of things that we perhaps should have done have been allowed to slide a little bit. And I think Craig can add value in determining how we move forward.
“There are still loads of things to be done in this club and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
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