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Budge: Levein still has backing of Hearts board of directors

The club chairman says she has not spoken to any candidates to replace the manager.

Budge is concerned by Hearts' recent form.
Budge is concerned by Hearts' recent form. SNS Group

Hearts chairman Ann Budge has said the Tynecastle board remains behind Craig Levein but shares supporters' concerns about recent results.

The Edinburgh side are bottom of the Premiership following a 3-2 home defeat to Motherwell last weekend and only two points have been earned from the opening five league fixtures.

Saturday's defeat was followed by demonstrations by angry fans who want Levein to leave his position as manager.

In a statement released by Budge on Wednesday evening, she says the board's backing is not because Levein is "untouchable" or because they are "weak" but because they believe in the plan they have jointly put together.

Budge also refuted claims that board members are burying their heads in the sand and said they are in constant dialogue with the manager about what is going wrong on the pitch.

The businesswoman asked supporters to continue to get behind the team, saying the plans for progress were being regularly evaluated.

"Our board remains behind the manager, his coaching staff and his team... not because he is 'untouchable', not because he is 'all-powerful', and not because we are 'weak', as has been suggested. We remain behind him because we believe in the plan we have jointly put together."
Ann Budge

Budge also addressed recent coverage of the team's troubles, denying that Levein, who is also director of football at Tynecastle, had undue influence and was not accountable.

"Some coverage has been fair and has accurately reflected the facts of the situation, while other coverage has been woeful," she said. "Certain reporters and pundits have made numerous ill-informed 'statements' regarding how things operate at the club, how decisions are made and who is involved in the decision-making process.

"They present these opinions as though they are fact. They are not.

"They are aimed at whipping up yet another media frenzy around the set-up at Hearts, which they simply cannot understand. To repeat just a few of these inaccurate claims: the board is weak; Craig is running the club; I have lost control; decisions cannot be taken about the manager because he sits on the board.

"I would simply point out that, unlike other managers, who may get called in front of the board if/when things are going wrong, Craig has to present to the full board at every board meeting, on how things are going against plan, across all areas of the football operation, including highlighting issues and discussing courses of action.

"Our board has four non-executive directors, appointed because of their business acumen and experience, whom I, as chairman, consult with on a very regular basis both individually and as a group. This includes discussing on-field, as well as off-field, matters and personnel.

"So, the suggestion that Craig's attendance at formal board meetings, inhibits open and frank discussion about his or the team's performance and/or future, is palpable nonsense.

"This brings me to recent media speculation. I can confirm that I have spoken to no other manager about the possibility of joining Hearts and names being publicly linked to the club are pure speculation. I have, however, fielded numerous, unsolicited phone calls from agents... who are rarely shy of trying to further their cause by leaking 'made up' stories to the media!

"In short, our board remains behind the manager, his coaching staff and his team... not because he is 'untouchable', not because he is 'all-powerful', and not because we are 'weak', as has been suggested. We remain behind him because we believe in the plan we have jointly put together.

"We will continue to scrutinise our on-field performances and should we feel our plans are going astray and our approach needs to be adjusted, we will respond accordingly."

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