This move has been taken by most of the Tartan Army and the media. There are strong indications that it has been made by the Scottish Football Association. Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the SFA, had to hold the line in the wake of the Brussels defeat, pointing out that the association appreciated the depth of the crisis but were preparing for a period of reflection. His briefing to the press, therefore, had to be measured. But two sentences spring out that indicate Craig Levein's tenure as national coach may end immediately on his return from holiday.
"The board will expect to understand why we are bottom of the group," said Regan. One can only wish Levein good luck in trying to explain the acquisition of two points from four matches in a group where he claimed all matches were winnable.
But it is another sentence that will surely have Levein contemplating a future some way from Hampden. "He kept talking about improvement, but results do not show any," said Regan. This carries all the frustration of a betrayed partner suing for breach of promise.
The chief executive is a misunderstood figure in much of Scottish football with some yesterday questioning whether he had the strength of will to sack Levein, who is both an ally and a friend. Regan may hesitate, but he will not back away from such an outcome.
The decision will be made by a seven-man board, but Regan's influence will be powerful and he has shown no disinclination to make strong decisions. Indeed, there is an argument that Levein could survive because that would be the more difficult decision to take. However, that line of thought will not survive the discussions to take place imminently.
The outcome for Levein looks bleak because, although Regan's tenure at the SFA stretches to just more than two years, it been heavily marked by his propensity, even eagerness, to make the big calls.
He reacted strongly to his first major challenge, when a referees' strike threatened to deprive Scotland of Clydesdale Bank Premier League matches. Referees were flown in and the show went on. He did not hesitate when faced with the controversy over an offensive email forwarded by Hugh Dallas, the head of referee development. Embarrassments over the deliberations of disciplinary committees were ended by the introduction of a transparent, fast-track procedure.
Regan can be criticised on several scores: he spent the weekend in England on the Saturday of the referee strike, his remarks over the effect the demise of Rangers would have on Scottish football were intemperate, the attempt to place Rangers in the first division was ham-fisted and almost demanded rejection. But this is not a personality who shies away from tackling an issue.
Any considered reflection on the Levein situation would reveal that the reasons for retaining the national coach are almost exclusively negative. His continued employment at Hampden would save the SFA severance payments of up to £600,000 as he is contracted to the summer of 2014. But there is the powerful counter argument that, in business terms, the SFA face a brutal, enduring "hit" by continuing with Levein.
The other negative that seems to support Levein is the lack of a genuine, outstanding manager waiting in the wings to take over. There are questions over all of the candidates.
Yes, Gordon Strachan took Celtic to the Champions League knockout stages on two occasions, but he failed abysmally at Middlesbrough.
Yes, Alex McLeish had a commendable spell as Scotland coach and won a treble as a Rangers manager, but he has most recently presided over the relegation of Birmingham City and been sacked by Aston Villa.
Yes, Joe Jordan is an inspiring figure, but is this enough to lead a national team.
Yes, Graeme Souness has extensive managerial experience, but has he the continued drive to dedicate himself to a difficult job?
In short, every potential coach carries a level of risk and the nerve of the board will be strained further by the realisation that this is an appointment that has to be the right one, given recent history and that the new man must institute an immediate improvement in results.
Qualification for the World Cup is now far beyond Scotland and the European Championships in France in 2016 must be the focus. This tournament is crucial for three reasons. First, Scotland have become serial non-achievers and a generation has passed without savouring a major finals. Second, 23 sides will qualify for the tournament and exclusion would not only be humiliating but demoralising. Third, the SFA needs both the kudos and the revenue that major finals bring.
Scotland are becoming more and more detached from the big days in world and European football. This a dangerous position that must be addressed.
Supporters of the current national coach will state that the problems extend far beyond Levein's reign and they would be right. Crucially, however, Levein showed no indication that he could offer even the merest glimmer of hope.
He blamed bad luck, yet he was often the recipient of good fortune. For example, the narrative of the draw with the Czech Republic at Hampden in the qualification match for the European Championships bristled with the indignation of a soft penalty to the visitors, yet Charlie Adam should have been sent off in the first half with the added sanction of the award of a penalty. The disallowed "goal" against Wales can be countered by the observation that Christophe Berra went unpunished for a crude foul in the penalty box.
These are all details and it is the bigger picture that has condemned Levein. He was brought in to improve results and he has not. This is not so much a verdict but the epitaph for every sacked manager.
Contextual targeting label: