Hearts owner Ann Budge admits to making mistake with Craig Levein appointment

Hearts owner Ann Budge insists her “mistake” in handing Craig Levein too much responsibility was not down to “blind faith”.

Budge admitted to shareholders at the club’s annual general meeting that she should not have allowed Levein to combine his director of football role with the manager’s job in September 2017, and regretted not making a change in the summer.

Levein was removed from the manager’s role in October but is continuing to work on areas such as the reserves, youth academy and medical side of the club until his contract expires at the end of the season.

After being accused of showing “blind faith” to Levein at the meeting, Budge told a media conference: “I don’t believe it’s blind faith. It’s the same way I would treat any other respected member of my management team.

“We all have strengths and weaknesses. I have been working with Craig for five-and-a-half years and I have a fairly good idea of where his strengths lie and where his weaknesses lie.

“You find a way to work together and play to somebody’s strengths and not their weaknesses.

“As I said there, one of the mistakes I made was agreeing that Craig should take on both roles. There were arguments put forward for it at the time and I agreed to that. So I concede I made some mistakes. I don’t think it was out of blind faith.”

While Levein has been allowed to continue his training-ground role away from the first team, it emerged his former assistant Austin MacPhee is working from home, mainly looking for new clubs for out-of-favour players.

However, with the club putting plans to install a sporting director on hold, Budge revealed MacPhee could have a long-term future at Tynecastle.

“I don’t think there is any chance that Craig will continue beyond the end of this season,” she said.

“Austin, that’s different, because Austin has to decide what Austin wants to do and it might well be that there is something he might want to do here. So I can’t be definitive about Austin until Austin decides which direction he wants to take his career.”

Meanwhile, Budge has heard “absolutely nothing” from Barnsley since the Yorkshire club vowed to take legal action to pursue compensation after Hearts appointed their former manager, Daniel Stendel.

“He has, to my understanding, to reach a settlement for himself, which has nothing to do with us,” Budge said. “We asked for evidence, they didn’t provide it, they haven’t been in touch again.”

Stendel hopes to bring in at least one of his former Barnsley assistants, Christopher Stern or Dale Tonge, but Budge says that process is out of Hearts’ hands.

“I’m not trying to deal with Barnsley because one of Daniels’s assistants who is still employed by Barnsley has got to sort his situation out,” Budge said.

“I can’t influence that and certainly don’t want to get in the middle of it.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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