HEARTS manager Gary Locke is willing to work for free after two of his senior players agreed to wage cuts to help the ailing Edinburgh club.
Goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and midfielder Ryan Stevenson accepted reductions in salary yesterday, although administrators BDO may still need to sack four members of the playing staff.
John Sutton and Jamie Hamill have also been offered a cut in wages but have yet to accept. Until further notice, no Hearts employee is being paid as there are no funds available. Administrators Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch hope to be able to pay staff as soon as possible and have appealed to fans hoping to sell 3000 season tickets in the next two weeks.
Locke today praised MacDonald and Stevenson for their sacrifice, whilst admitting he is content to work for nothing at the moment. “That’s one positive to come out of a difficult 48 hours,” he said of MacDonald and Stevenson. “We don’t have a lot of experienced players now because we cut right through the summer. I thought I’d be able to bring in a few players but that’s not the case now. These two have shown me they’re prepared to take wage cuts to play for the club and I’ve nothing but great things to say about them.
“They are the types you want playing for you. We’re not getting paid, we’re all working for free. That’s something I’m prepared to do. It’s a time when we all stand shoulder to shoulder. Anyone that was on the streets after we won the Scottish Cup last May, it’s now time for them to step up to the plate.”
Asked about Sutton and Hamill, Locke replied: “I’ve managed to touch base with them but it’s not a decision you can make straight away.
“The next two weeks are critical, absolutely critical. If we can bring money in, I’ve got a chance of keeping the players that are here. There aren’t a lot of players left. If we don’t bring the money in, players will have to be sold. That’s the truth of the matter.”
Danny Wilson is effectively a free agent as Hearts had not registered him with the Scottish Football Association after he signed a three-year contract last month. The club are now under a registration embargo for entering administration and Locke is “devastated” he won’t have him in his ranks.
“Danny Wilson’s contract with Liverpool didn’t run out till the end of June and we have a transfer embargo. I’m devastated I’m going to lose such a good player because I’d love to have built a team around him. The biggest thing for me is the club survives. Whatever team starts the season, great, but the main thing over the next couple of weeks is this club is here.”
Hearts are believed to owe money to Heriot-Watt University as part of their 25-year lease agreement of the Riccarton training ground. However, a spokeswoman for Heriot-Watt said: “The situation at Hearts is not currently affecting the club’s use of training facilities at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus. Business will continue as usual and we will deal with the administrator in the first instance.”
Locke conceded he had not yet given thought to starting next season minus 15 points, which is another consequence of Hearts’ descent into administration. “I’ve not even thought about that. The situation is grim,” he admitted. “The administrators told everyone the position on Thursday and I’m trying to say the same. We need the fans more than ever now.
“If they back the club in the next two weeks, as I’m 100 per cent sure they will do, we’ve got a chance. No-one is bigger than this club. Not me, the staff or any of the players. It’s important this club survives and, at the minute, things are looking very bleak.”