Ann Budge praises Hearts coach Neilson and fans

Ann Budge, below, is grateful for the backing of Hearts' fans
Ann Budge, below, is grateful for the backing of Hearts' fans
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Hearts owner Ann Budge has lavished praise on head coach Robbie Neilson and the club’s supporters after the team were crowned Championship winners.

Neilson guided the Tynecastle outfit to the title with seven games to spare and his side are on course to rack up a record points tally in the second tier.

Budge has also paid tribute to the supporters after they rallied to lift the club out of the nadir of administration last summer.

Speaking about Neilson, Budge said: “I think everyone has seen that Robbie is a first class coach, there is no question about that.

“His manner, the way he treats the players, his intelligence – I think all of that has been proven without any shadow of a doubt this season. It’s all these qualities that helps him to achieve what he has achieved and to get the very best out of the players.”

Budge will eventually hand over her majority shareholding to the 8000-strong fans group the Foundation of Hearts and she has nothing but admiration for the supporters.

She added: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that it really is down to them that we’re still here at all.

“They have been magnificent in every sense of the word and they continue to be.

“I’m confident – more confident than I was last year at this time – that they will continue to support us.”

On their return to the top-flight after only one season in the Championship, Budge, added: “I am excited and I am also under no illusions. I know that next season is going to be at least as difficult with many problems that we need to address.

“If I’m being honest, I’m thinking we’re not going to go up and win every game that we play.

“Things will be more difficult in that regard but the supporters have made this season special and I think they will stay behind us. They will enjoy being back in the Premiership.”