Craig Levein sacked as Scotland coach

Craig Levein has been sacked as Scotland boss, the Scottish FA has confirmed, with Under-21 coach Billy Stark being put in temporary charge. "The Scottish FA tonight announces that Craig Levein has been relieved of his duties as Scotland national coach," said a SFA official statement. "The board of the Scottish FA has taken the decision primarily due to the disappointing results. Billy Stark will take interim charge for the friendly against Luxembourg."

The decision comes the day before the squad was scheduled to be announced for next week's friendly. That announcement will now be delayed while the present coach of the Under-21 side considers his selection and the SFA look for an interim replacement for the Under-21 team. The Scottish Football Association said it had taken into account Levein's "stated intention - expressed to the president and chief executive - to leave the job at the end of the World Cup campaign". SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "We are taking this decision with real sadness. Craig has worked hard to bring success and has been thoroughly professional in his approach to the job. He has achieved a great deal with the team and in other areas, such as the performance strategy. However, he would be the first to agree that football is a results-driven business. The key factor is that we are bottom of the group, but we are not bottom of the group material and want to move up the group as far as possible and prepare for France 2014."

Levein had vowed not to resign and Regan revealed that the coach's contract had not been terminated and that he would continue to be paid until the deal runs out in summer 2014.

"After the Luxembourg match, the board will meet to begin the process of identifying and recruiting the next national coach to take us forward," said Regan. "We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job." Levein, who took the jobin December 2009, had tried to convince SFA president Campbell Ogilvie that he should remain in post during a meeting early last week. He was been under pressure after Scotland drew their opening qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia and then defeats by Wales and Belgium led to widespread criticism. Scotland have only won three of their 12 competitive matches with Levein in charge and have gathered just two points from four matches in their World Cup group, with qualification already looking like a distant dream. Scotland will travel to face Luxembourg for a friendly on 14 November but they do not have another qualifier until 22 March 2013, when they are hosting Wales.

Bookmakers have made former Celtic and Southampton manager Gordon Strachan a clear favourite to succeed Levein, followed by former Scotland manager Alex McLeish. You can bet on who will be Levein's successor at Bet365, here are the top 5 favourites:

Gordon Strachan - 2/5
Alex McLeish - 8/1
Joe Jordan - 12/1
Owen Coyle - 12/1
Walter Smith - 20/1

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