Robbie Neilson and Alan Combe to assist Hearts boss

Robbie Neilson with Alan Combe pictured below
Robbie Neilson with Alan Combe pictured below
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HEARTS coaches Robbie Neilson and Alan Combe will assist manager Gary Locke until the end of the season following the news that Billy Brown is to leave the club.

John Robertson will continue to help out at Riccarton on a part-time basis, with Hearts citing cost-cutting as the reason not to renew Brown’s contract. The 63-year-old has been told by administrators BDO that his short-term deal, due to expire on January 31, will not be extended.

He will sit in the dugout alongside Locke for the final time against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park this Saturday. BDO are keen to reduce costs in the football department at Riccarton and, as such, Brown has been deemed surplus to requirements.

There are no plans to replace him, with Hearts expected to be in administration until well into the spring. That leaves Neilson, the club’s under-20 coach, goalkeeping coach Combe and Robertson to work with Locke for the remainder of the campaign.

Brown had initially worked without wages to assist Locke after Hearts entered administration last June. In September, he was handed a contract until the end of January. He admitted to being dismayed by the decision to release him but asked supporters to continue backing Locke.

“I am very disappointed my contract will not be renewed but that is the way things are at the club and I have to accept that,” he told the Hearts website. “I was really pleased when I was asked to assist Gary at the start of the season. Having worked with Gary as a player over a great number of years I was always of the opinion that he had the making of a top manager and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. The way he has handled a very difficult situation has been magnificent.

“I urge all supporters to get behind Gary and the team for the remainder of the season and would like to thank everybody who has helped me in my third spell at Hearts, especially the players and staff whose spirit remains remarkable.”

A Hearts spokesperson said: “We would like to put on record our gratitude to Billy for his sterling efforts in helping Gary since his arrival in July. He has been of considerable assistance to Hearts over the last six months and we know he appreciates the need to refresh the team coupled with the need for continued financial prudence. We wish him well in the future.”