Ann Budge tells Hearts players wage cuts will last until end of August

Owner will review situation if matches restart earlier

By Barry Anderson
Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 8:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 8:54 am
Hearts owner Ann Budge is cutting costs during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hearts owner Ann Budge is cutting costs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hearts owner Ann Budge has told players that wage cuts will last until the end of August unless football resumes before then.

Asked to put a timescale on the reductions, the club's chief executive stated they would be in place for four months and the squad would return to full pay in August.

The Hearts players and staff were asked to take a 50 per cent drop in salary last week as coronavirus impacts football. All matches are suspended, leaving many clubs struggling to pay their employees with no gate income.

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Budge moved quickly to reduce outgoings in an attempt to preserve jobs at Tynecastle Park after Scottish football was indefinitely postponed.

She has informed players the cuts will apply to wages during April, May, June and July. August's payments should be back to 100 per cent, although if games restart before that point then she will review the situation.

It is understood non-football staff have not yet been told when their pay will revert to normal.

Captain Steven Naismith is the only player to have publicly accepted a 50 per cent reduction so far. Manager Daniel Stendel asked to work without remuneration so that his money can be used to pay colleagues. His assistant, Jorg Sievers, agreed to move to half pay.

Defender Clevid Dikamona is leaving Hearts after agreeing to terminate his contract. He will return to France with his family later this week.

Speaking about the situation, Naismith confirmed Hearts' plan to have the squad on lower salaries until August. "At this moment in time we’re in a situation nobody could ever fathom would get like this," said the 33-year-old.

"People’s health is the number one concern. The economy is shutting right down and what that means for people’s lives, it does become less about football and more concern for everybody and everything else as so many lives are been affected.

"Ann doesn’t want to go around and make redundancies, she’s trying to save all the jobs. It is about the core staff who have been at the club for so long and live month to month.

"It’s not just the actual financial implications, there’s the mental side and the worry it’s going to cause in terms of whether people are going to be made redundant, be out of work and not be able to pay their bills and what that will mean for their families.

"That is a big strain on people across all areas of life but of course everyone’s health is the most important thing but people have to try and find a way to live through the circumstances created by this virus. It is touching so many people’s lives.

"We sat down as a family and spoke about it. It is the right thing to do and fortunately I’m in the position I can do it.

"The players asked for a date to be put on it and it’s until the end of August – but Ann has said if the situation improves beforehand, then it’ll be until that stage."

The Government's plan to cover 80 per cent of an employee's wage up to a monthly maximum of £2,500 helps Hearts and other businesses significantly.

"Ann’s just trying to be proactive and since then she’s been doing all she can to make sure it has as little an impact as possible," added Naismith.

"When the Chancellor comes out and said they’ll pay 80 per cent of up to a £2,500 monthly wage of employees not working for their employer, Ann was straight back to explain this is what’s going to need to happen now. That’s better for a lot of people in the business on lesser salaries.

"Ann’s just trying to get the best for the club. She’s trying to save jobs, which after our meeting was pretty clear. I must say everybody at the club on the football side I’ve spoken to and dealt with are all trying to do what they can."