Hearts manager Gary Locke believes Ann Budge’s biggest advantage when she takes control at Tynecastle will be the fact she is a lifelong supporter of the club.
Locke also insists he is unfazed by reports that his tenure could be cut short by the Edinburgh businesswoman, dismissing them as pure speculation.
Budge has already met several key members of staff at Hearts, including Locke himself, as she conducts a detailed review of the club. Through her BIDCO company, she is expected to become chairwoman before the end of April and is waiting for the club to emerge from administration.
As a season ticket holder, she harbours the same passion for Hearts as Locke and thousands of other supporters. The manager is unconcerned about suggestions that she may replace him with Craig Levein or Peter Houston and he is adamant that Budge’s arrival will signal a brighter future in Gorgie after the disastrous ending to Vladimir Romanov’s era.
“I think the most encouraging thing about Ann is that she’s a Hearts supporter herself,” Locke told the Evening News. “Over the years, when the club isn’t run by Hearts-minded people, you can see the state we’ve ended up in. This is fantastic for everyone that we’re going to have a leader who will come in and move the club in the right direction.
“That’s a huge plus for every supporter.”
Regarding stories about his own position, Locke continued: “It’s not something that bothers me in the slightest. There is speculation in the newspapers.
“For me, the most important thing from day one this season was that Heart of Midlothian survive. That’s all I care about.
“I’ve only met Ann once. It was great getting to meet her, although it was a while back. She’s been in and spoke to a few members of staff. From my point of view it’s fantastic because she’s going to come in and move the club forward in the right direction. That’s the only thing I want as a Hearts supporter.
“She didn’t really go into any detail about what her plans are for the club. I think she wants to wait until she is in control.
“Bryan Jackson [the administrator in charge of Hearts] has said there is still a long way to go in that department with what’s happening in Lithuania.
“Once the takeover happens, the great thing for every Hearts fan is we’re going to have a new owner who will take the club forward.”