Levein accuses Scott Brown of getting booked deliberately
The Hearts boss says the Celtic midfielder wanted to avoid being banned against Rangers.
Hearts manager Craig Levein has claimed Scott Brown deliberately got himself booked against Kilmarnock to avoid being suspended when Celtic face Rangers.
Levein became embroiled in a war of words with Celtic last week when he responded to questions about an injury to Tynecastle youngster Harry Cochrane by saying that "Everybody needs more protection from Scott Brown".
His comment riled Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, who defended Brown before questioning Hearts' own disciplinary record.
After Brown was booked in his side's defeat to Kilmarnock on Saturday, the Celtic skipper laid the blame for his yellow card at Levein's feet saying: "I was booked with my first foul and I think that is exactly what Craig was looking to do."
Levein denied he was responsible for leading the referee and accused Brown of deliberately getting himself booked so he would serve his suspension before the league leaders face Rangers.
"Scott Brown said last week that he got booked because of me bringing attention to his proclivity to foul people," Levein said. "I disagree with that completely.
"I think if you look and see if Scott didn't get booked against Kilmarnock last week and he got booked against St Johnstone then he would have missed the Rangers game. I'll leave you to deduce what that means."
He then reiterated his belief that Brown had acted intentionally.
"I'm just pointing out one thing, that's all," he said. "I'm just pointing it out as a retort to his statement last week that it was me that got him booked.
"I think you'll find his intentions were to always get booked in that game so he doesn't miss the Rangers game.
"It happens all the time. Anyone who is sensible would look at the situation if there's a particular game they want to play in and they only need to get booked to miss a game prior to that.
"I did it myself when I was playing. It happens."
The Hearts boss said he wasn't being deliberately provocative but had to act in his side's best interests.
"I'm not trying to [get under people's skin], I'm just pointing out things that are obvious, that's all," he said. "I'm doing what I think is the right thing for this football club, for my football club.
"People say things and have said things in the past that I think are having a go at the club for whatever reason and I don't like that. I feel my position in the managerial role is to stand up for the club so I'm going to do that."
Brown's sixth Premiership booking of the season brings a one-match ban which takes effect 14 days after the date it was shown. That means the Celtic skipper will miss the league match against St Johnstone on February 18.
Had Brown not been shown a yellow card in the Rugby Park match but picked up a caution against St Johnstone, the automatic suspension would have taken effect on March 4, ruling him out of the match at Ibrox a week later.