ROBBIE NEILSON insists Hearts owner Ann Budge must replace Stephen Thompson on the board of the Scottish Professional Football League.
The Dundee United chairman resigned last week and Budge is favourite to take his place as an SPFL director.
The league will elect a new board at their AGM on July 20. Neilson, head coach at Tynecastle, believes they simply cannot afford to overlook Budge again. She missed out on election last summer, when she took Thompson to a third round of votes before losing narrowly. Thompson’s resignation leaves a void which the 68-year-old is now perfectly placed to fill.
Her restructuring work at Hearts over the last two years has impressed many within the Scottish football community. The Edinburgh club emerged from administration in June 2014 and have won the Scottish Championship and qualified for Europe by finishing third in the Premiership. Finances are much more stable thanks to income from more than 8000 fans through the Foundation of Hearts group.
Neilson explained why Budge’s strategy and vision make her an ideal candidate for a place on the SPFL board. “Ann is just fantastic. The SPFL have to get her on the board,” he told the Evening News. “She should’ve been on it last year so she has to get a place this time.
“If we want to try and push Scottish football forward, then we need Ann Budge on that board. We need her pushing the whole establishment forward. You can see what she’s done at Hearts and the manner in which she’s done it. If the SPFL want to move forward, then it’s important we get Ann on the board.
“She is simply very good at what she does. That’s why she’s been so successful at Hearts. She’s one of the best in the business. Ann has a strategy for everything. I think she understands that to get the best in the business you have to employ the best people in the right roles. I would be amazed if she didn’t get on the SPFL board this time. I think she deserves a place. The SPFL need to do it.”