Scotland fires Craig Levein
Levein sacked as Scotland manager
Craig Levein has paid the price for Scotland's poor start to their World Cup qualifying campaign after being "relieved of his duties" as national team manager.
The Scottish Football Association board delivered their verdict on his near-three-year tenure Monday after protracted deliberations.
Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark will take temporary charge of the team with his first task to name a squad for next Wednesday's friendly in Luxembourg.
The Scottish FA said in a statement that it made the change "primarily due to the disappointing results in the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Qualifiers, which have culminated in Scotland being bottom of the group after four matches."
The Scots (0-2-2) are last in Group A with two points. They have not reached a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
Levein, hired in December 2009 as the country's fourth manager since 2007, had a contract running until the summer of 2014. Scotland won just three of 12 competitive matches under Levein and is 56th in the FIFA rankings -- 10 places lower than when he took the job.
Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, who was interviewed for the role before Walter Smith took over in January 2005, emerged as the initial favorite but an appointment could take some time.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan made the announcement with "real sadness" as he praised Levein's role in formulating a performance strategy designed to improve the long-term prospects of the national team.
The continuing need to pay Levein will naturally take money away from those very plans but Regan admitted the board made the "collective decision" that change was needed as results were not good enough.
"The view of the board is we are not bottom-of-the-group material, we are better than that," Regan said at a news conference moments after the official announcement was made.
"We need to have a new manager to turn around the campaign and move us forward," he said. "We are in a results-driven business and Craig has been the first to admit that.
Levein was given a 4½-year contract when he was appointed, during Gordon Smith's tenure as chief executive, and that decision has come at a cost.
"We have not terminated Craig's contract," Regan said. "Craig Levein will continue to receive his full remuneration. The exact figure is a private matter."
Levein appeared to have the support of his players with Charlie Adam on Monday expressing his disbelief at the decision, but the mood of fans was stacked against the former Hearts and Scotland defender.
Scotland's subsequent friendly after Luxembourg comes against Estonia at Pittodrie on Feb. 6 but Regan revealed the qualifier against Wales on March 22 was the key target to name Levein's replacement.
"We will take our time and recruit the best person for the job, whenever that may be," he said. "The players need to take some responsibility under a new manager and restore some respectability in this campaign.
"We want to get as high a position in this campaign as we can and in doing so give ourselves as much a chance of qualifying for France 2016 as we can."
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.