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By ESPN Staff

Levein pays the price for Leicester slump

Craig Levein has been sacked as Leicester manager after presiding over the club's alarming decline in fortunes.

The 41-year-old former Cowdenbeath and Hearts boss leaves the Walkers Stadium club with the Foxes currently lying third bottom in the Coca-Cola Championship and two points adrift.

Levein was appointed in October 2004 and replaced Micky Adams, who resigned while leaving the club 12th in the table and four points outside the play-off places following relegation from the Premiership at the end of the 2003-04 campaign.

But an envisaged promotion push failed to materialise, and under Levein's stewardship the Foxes finished 15th - 16 points short of the top six.

And with Leicester now ensconced in the Championship relegation zone, last night's 1-0 defeat at Plymouth - City's sixth successive Championship reverse and their 10th game without a win - has proved the final straw for the board.

First-team coach Peter Houston and reserve-team coach Kenny Black have also followed Levein out of the door.

And Levein said: 'Peter, Kenny Black and I are disappointed to be leaving the club.

'We came to Leicester and, with the full co-operation of the board, embarked on a long-term strategy to reduce the wage bill, reduce the average age of the team and build the foundations for long-term success.

'We felt we were making significant progress in those areas and our reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last season and in beating Tottenham earlier this month seemed to bear that out.

Also, with the introduction of players such as Richard Stearman, Paddy McCarthy and Stephen Hughes, among others, we feel the club have some valuable assets upon which the future can be built.

'However, we knew with such a young squad consistency would be hard to achieve and we understand the board have taken the view results were causing major concern.

'So they've taken the decision to terminate our contracts.

'We wish the club every success and are certain the club will reap the benefits of the work we've put in.'

Chief executive Tim Davies explained: 'We set out a long-term strategy for the club.

'We wanted players on long-term contracts, living locally and who wanted to do well for the club, to develop younger players through the academy system, to reduce the average age of the squad, to create sustainable off-field business development to support the club, and to be financially prudent - to live within our means.

'Much of this has been achieved.

'However, our league position is unacceptable and we need to make a change.

'We've had great support from our fans and all of us have one common goal - to avoid relegation.

'We see this as the way forward to do this.'

Levein has been replaced by former assistant Rob Kelly who, alongside goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell, has assumed control on a game by game basis.