REACHING the Scottish Communities League Cup final is worth around £500,000 to Hearts and guarantees the club’s survival until summer.
They face St Mirren at Hampden on Sunday, March 17, after beating Inverness on penalties in Saturday’s semi-final.
The run to a second cup final inside a year and the income generated ends any immediate doubt over Hearts’ future. Money from ties against Livingston, Dundee United, Inverness and St Mirren, plus television revenue, sponsorship and extra commercial benefits, will total in the region of £500,000.
That gives the Tynecastle board vital breathing space until the end of the season, when many high-earning players are expected to be released and operational costs reduced. Hearts are determined to be self-sustainable from next season onwards after wage delays and unpaid tax bills threatened their existence late last year. A share issue was launched and raised £1.1 million, although the club required more to meet all their obligations to the end of the season. A final appearance ensures they will now be able to do so.
“Financially it is a massive boost because the football club is still not out of the woods yet,” said manager John McGlynn. “It’s a big boost for all the backroom staff, players and directors to go back to Hampden. Hopefully it will kick us on to a better league performance too. There has been a lot of doom and gloom this season and a lot of negativity and, hands up, we’ve brought a lot of it on ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s great for the fans to go back to Hampden. They must’ve seen the fight in the players.”
McGlynn lavished praise on his players for their performance against Inverness at Easter Road and was especially pleased with the midfield triumvirate of Scott Robinson, Callum Tapping and Jason Holt. The manager asked his players to pass and move quickly through towering opponents like Owain Tudur Jones and Ross Draper, and felt the performance merited the victory.
“The midfield combination worked a treat for me,” he continued. “You don’t need to be 6ft 2in or 6ft 4in to play if you get the ball down on the ground. I thought our midfield three were excellent, as was Jamie Walker. We had the option to hit big Michael Nigoo, who brought others into play. We played some excellent football, although our final ball wasn’t so good. Overall, if there was justice, I thought it was right that we won.”