Dundee United’s manager hunt is in full swing after Robbie Neilson’s shock departure to former side Hearts.
And former Tangerines boss Craig Levein is amongst the early favourites to take charge at Tannadice.
Levein is still a popular figure at Tannadice 11 years after he left to become manager of the Scottish national team and is currently looking for work after vacating the director of football role at Hearts.
However, he faces stiff competition in the betting market for the United job from ex-St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright.
Former Tangerines chairman Stephen Thompson wanted Wright to replace Jackie McNamara in the Tannadice dugout in 2015, but the Perth side fended off their Tayside rivals’ advances.
Now, with Wright available following his departure from Saints, the bookies have made him the early front-runner for the United job.
Meanwhile, Neilson’s sudden move from the Tangerines to Hearts is unlikely to sweeten relations between the sides, who are already at legal loggerheads.
With the Jam Tarts attempting to block United’s promotion to the Premiership in the Court of Session, the Tannadice club have vowed to “robustly defend” themselves.
They will have to do so without Neilson, who is now preparing to lead Hearts, who remain, at present, a Championship club.
United had initially rejected a move by the Jam Tarts to speak to their head coach but, at Neilson’s insistence, they relented and a “contractual termination clause” came into play.
Compensation was agreed between the two teams and Neilson is now back at Tynecastle for a second spell in the dugout.
United chairman Mark Ogren said: “Although we are understandably disappointed, we at Dundee United Football Club are bigger than one person and we will continue to work towards our long-term plan with our staff and players and, of course, our loyal supporters.
“Robbie played a huge role in our journey so far, however, we now look towards the future, with a new leader and renewed hope for our fans.”
Tannadice sporting director Tony Asghar added: “I can confirm that I was called today by (Hearts owner) Ann Budge seeking permission to speak with Robbie Neilson to become Hearts’ new head coach.
“This was turned down, however, after lengthy discussions with Robbie he made it clear he wished to speak with them. As a result of this, the contractual termination clause has been met and Robbie will leave the club.
“As head coach, he led the team to a play-off final before achieving promotion with a Championship title this season and I would like to thank him for his contribution.
“Gordon Forest and Lee McCulloch will continue leading our pre-season preparations ahead of the Scottish Premiership restart and we will look to appoint a new head coach as soon as possible.”
Speaking to the Hearts website after the move was rubber-stamped, Neilson declared: “You don’t turn down the chance to come to a club like Hearts and I’m absolutely delighted to be coming back.
“I had some great experiences here, both as a player and manager, and I’m keen to pick up where I left off.
“Everyone knows there is a really good squad at Hearts and I’m excited to begin working with the players and staff.
“Finally, I’d like to say thank you to Dundee United for the opportunity they gave me two years ago. I hope the United fans feel that together we managed to restore the club back to where it belongs.”
Neilson was appointed head coach of Hearts in May 2014 and would go on to lead them to the Championship title within a year.
He then led the club to a third-place finish in the Premiership before heading to England to manage MK Dons.
He left the English club in January 2018 and the Tangerines appointed him as their boss to replace Csaba Laszlo in October of that year.
Neilson missed out on promotion in a play-off penalty shootout against St Mirren at the end of that campaign but got it right second time around.