CALUM ELLIOT, Jason Thomson and Janos Balogh will be the first players allowed to leave Hearts as new director of football John Murray begins implementing cost-cutting measures.
Murray’s role as youth academy director has been expanded, granting him authority to run all aspects of the football department at Riccarton under the director of football title. In particular, his remit involves helping academy players with the transition to senior level as Hearts focus on honing young talent for the first team.
Murray is also entrusted with recruitment. He has already conducted talks on new contracts with some first-team members and moved to trim the squad by agreeing deals to release others.
Elliot, currently on loan at Dundee, will be one of the first to go along with Thomson and Balogh. All three are considered surplus to requirements by Hearts and are now free to find new clubs.
“I’m coming to the end of my current contract in the summer and I’m free to find a new club,” said Thomson, who was on loan at Dunfermline earlier this season before suffering an injury. “I got sent out on loan to Dunfermline at the start of the season and I’ve been playing but, when you think about it, it’s not a great shock that I can leave Hearts. That’s football.
“I grew up a Hearts fan and I’ve played for the club a while now, but I probably need a change and a fresh start. You get stuck at the same club for a while and don’t play much. I’m not going to get too down about it.”
Speaking about his new appointment, Murray said: “Having been involved with Hearts for so long, it is a great honour to be appointed director of football and I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“The club is currently embarking on a transformational phase which will lead to a number of our brightest prospects graduating into the first-team squad in due course. This transition, though, has to be carefully managed and the work of Darren Murray, Gary Locke and the manager will be paramount. I hope that the supporters will also understand that this progression will be a continual process and will not happen overnight.”
Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas told the club website: “John has played an integral part in the development of our very successful academy system and we are pleased that he has accepted this extended role.
“The club is going through a transformation and John’s knowledge, experience and commitment will allow us to shape the football club in the seasons ahead. We have some very good young players and with the right mix of senior players we can become the entertaining, enterprising and youthful team we strive to be.”
* Former Hearts and Hibs midfielder Lawrie Tierney has died at the age of 52.