HEARTS have begun preliminary contract talks with manager Paulo Sergio aimed at keeping him at Tynecastle next season.
David Southern, the club’s managing director, said the board are pleased with Sergio’s contribution and are positive about the future with him in charge.
Sergio’s contract expires at the end of the season along with those of his Portuguese assistants, Sergio Cruz and Alberto Cabral. His popularity amongst supporters has been noted by Southern and the Hearts directors, and he could go down in history by winning the Scottish Cup in a historic all-Edinburgh final with Hibs next month.
Hearts are keen for Sergio to stay and further discussions will take place in the near future.
“It’s really a question for Paulo,” said Southern. “We’re very pleased with what he’s done here. The supporters like Paulo, the players like Paulo and what he’s done for the squad, so if talks go well, we are positive towards what will happen next season.”
Should Sergio agree to extend his contract, he could be looking at a vastly different Hearts squad for next season.
Southern conceded that several first-team players will leave this summer in order to cut costs, with youth academy graduates being invited to step up in their place.
Rudi Skacel, Craig Beattie, Ian Black, Suso Santana, Stephen Elliott, Gary Glen and David Obua are all out of contract in a few weeks’ time, and some of them will not be kept on.
“We’re looking to retain the core of the squad but, naturally, there will be drop off at the end of the season,” Southern told STV.
“Our focus has always been to bring through young players and develop them and there will be opportunities for them. Once we have some sort of clarity of our position next season in terms of European football or otherwise, then we’ll be in a position to open contract talks with various players.”
Meanwhile, Hearts and Hibs were due to learn their Scottish Cup final ticket allocation this afternoon in a planning meeting with the Scottish Football Association at Hampden Park.
It is expected that an even 50-50 split will be offered by the SFA and accepted by both clubs, entitling them to well over 20,000 tickets each, excluding hospitality and debenture seats at Hampden Park.
Hearts are likely to announce further details on ticket sales for the final tomorrow. “Judging by the number of inquiries we have had since making it into the final with our win over Celtic, there is going to be an enormous demand for tickets for the big game,” said a Tynecastle spokesperson.
“Clearly, supporters are wanting to witness a piece of Scottish footballing history, and we are preparing for an onslaught of calls once the sale process kicks off. For that reason, the sale of tickets will be based on fans’ loyalty points totals.”