Hearts: Ann Budge backs Ian Cathro and insists Craig Levein does not pick team

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro and director of football Craig Levein
Cathro and Levein (right) have been working together since early December

Hearts owner Ann Budge has criticised "ludicrous" media focus on head coach Ian Cathro, while insisting Craig Levein does not pick the team.

Former Scotland manager Levein has been director of football at Tynecastle since Budge took over in May 2014.

Budge said that Levein's "opinion and advice can be extremely valuable".

But added: "That said, he no more does Ian's job than he does Roger Arnott's job as head of the academy or indeed mine, as chief executive."

Cathro, 30, replaced Robbie Neilson in November, with Hearts winning just six of 20 games since then and falling from second to fifth in the Premiership.

Much was made of Levein's appearance in the dressing room at half time and his passing on information from the stand to the head coach during last month's defeat by Aberdeen.

At the time, former Newcastle and Valencia coach Cathro said his working arrangement with Levein was "entirely normal".

"For the avoidance of doubt, Ian picks the team as did Robbie when he was here," said Budge.

"Any input from Craig whether in note form from a vantage point in the stand or in any other form is given purely to assist Ian's decision-making."

Budge, who stated the Edinburgh club budgeted for a fourth-placed Premiership finish, then turned her attention to the media's portrayal of Cathro, claiming it has "at times, reached ludicrous proportions".

Hearts chief executive Ann Budge
Budge hopes the offer of a three-year season ticket will help raise an additional £1m to help with the costs of the new main stand

"Firstly, it was questioning why the club would appoint such a young, inexperienced head coach, seriously questioning Ian's credentials for the job," she said in a lengthy statement.

"I would answer that quite simply by referring to our long-term strategy which sees us investing in and developing young coaches. This appointment was totally consistent with that objective."

Tynecastle plans for early next season

Budge also revealed that Tynecastle will be used for home games in July, whether those be in the Europa League or League Cup.

Discussions were held with the Scottish Rugby Union over staging games at nearby Murrayfield while the new main stand is under construction but planned pitch improvements made that impossible.

Instead, Hearts will play in front of three stands and are optimistic their first few league games of next season will all be away from home following a request to the other clubs.

Budge added: "We have, however, an agreement in principle, to play any Ladbrokes Premier League home fixtures at BT Murrayfield, in the event that our building programme runs late."

The new main stand is due to be ready on 9 September.

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