Man who prevented Hearts’ liquidation returns for debut of self-penned play

Bryan Jackson has released a self-penned play about the experience. Pic Neil Hanna
Bryan Jackson has released a self-penned play about the experience. Pic Neil Hanna
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It helps to have a sense of humour when a large part of your day job is spent sifting through financial quagmires and pegging people for redundancy.

Luckily the man who pulled Hearts back from the brink of liquidation in 2015 is the self-confessed owner of a “sick sense of humour”, which has helped him to see the chinks of light in even the darkest corners.

Former administrator Bryan Jackson, 62, will return to Tynecastle Park next month to see the comedy play he wrote and produced be performed in the football ground that he saved from extinction.

When redundancies loom, bosses suddenly scarper, says Bryan, who was left to wield the axe. He said: “It’s never nice having to tell people that their job no longer exists.

“I hated that part of it, but I always made sure that they knew what their next steps should be. ”

Based on his own 40 years’ experience of saving Scottish football clubs from going under, The Pieman Cometh is a satirical play that charts mild-mannered chartered accountant Alan Ledger’s journey into the murky world of Scottish football’s financial dealings.

Bryan, now semi-retired, was a fixer drafted in by clubs, including Hearts, Dunfermline and Motherwell, teetering on the precipice of potentially fatal debt situations. He wrote the play in a week while on holiday after being “amazed by the industry and its characters”. A chance meeting with journalist-turned-playwright David Belcher two years later transformed his sun-drenched scribbles into a fully-fledged production.

Bryan said: “I was very excited when I saw what David had put together. I realised it could really work.” And with a tweak of the title and actors, including River City’s Gavin Jon Wright, enlisted, they were off.

After a successful four-night run at Oran Mor in Glasgow as part of the city’s International Comedy Festival, the cast and crew will head east to perform two special previews in the Gorgie Suite at the McLeod Street stadium at the end of July ahead of a full run at the Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre.

Bryan compares his role as producer of the play to being the chairman of a club – juggling financial and logistical details to keep things afloat. “The ball sometimes hits the post, but eventually you score the winning goal,” he said.

In his analogy, director Frank Miller is the football manager who trains the player or actors and sends them onto the field, or in this case, stage.

While a comedy, the play is not without an underlying message. Bryan hopes audiences will feel the emotion attached to supporting a football team and how fans, like those who established the group Foundation of Hearts in a bid to prevent closure, will do anything to save their club.

A return to the Heart of Midlothian ground will be an emotional one for the man whose head for figures saved the club.

He said: “I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did everything I could and with a bit of luck we got over the line. I’m really attached now.”

The Pieman Cometh will be shown at Tynecastle Park on July 20 and 21.

newsen@edinburghnews.com