Hearts manager Daniel Stendel is working on a summer recruitment plan from his home in Germany. Although free to leave Tynecastle Park if the club are relegated, Stendel is busy preparing for next season during the coronavirus shutdown.
He remains convinced Hearts can survive in the Ladbrokes Premiership if the remaining eight fixtures are played. For now, Scottish football remains suspended due to the global pandemic with no indication of when it might resume.
The two-and-a-half-year contract Stendel signed last December is not valid if Hearts go down, but the German is working on the assumption that does not happen.
Hearts know they risk losing some players out of contract this summer after asking staff to take pay cuts to reduce the impact caused by the indefinite postponement of matches.
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Defender Clevid Dikamona has agreed his departure but may return if the club want him back. Stendel and his coaching staff are identifying ways of improving the squad and scouting practices through in-home video analysis.
It is normal for clubs to plan for the summer transfer window during spring to ensure they are informed on which players may become available.
However, with staff moving to reduced wages of up to 50 per cent, Hearts have rightly been criticised for a leaked email to agents suggesting they could pay transfer fees for new signings this summer.
Speaking to the Evening News, Stendel outlined the research and planning he is undertaking with coaches Jorg Sievers, Dale Tonge, Andy Kirk and Paul Gallacher. "I am working from home, doing video scouting and looking at recruitment," he said.
"We are trying to do things with our coaching staff that you can do from a home office, with recruiting and some work to develop the club. Everybody is doing this. We have talks and phonecalls every day, so we have changed our work and this is all we can do at the moment."
Stendel admitted forward planning is difficult and reiterated his wish for the final eight league games to be played to determine which league Hearts will occupy next season. His club are bottom of the table and four points adrift with 24 left to be won.
"We know it is not easy because nobody knows what will happen after this break," added the manager. "On one side our situation is bad and we would be happy when we start new but, honest, I would like to play the eight games.
"I want to stay up in the league. It looks really, really difficult, especially after our last game at St Mirren, but I would like to say we will stay up in the league from the sports side. Maybe it is not my decision in the end."
The Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League are unable to give a definitive return date for football. Medical guidance suggests it will not be before June and may even be later in the summer.
The Hearts owner Ann Budge last week asked all players and staff to take a 50 per cent reduction in wages whilst matches remain suspended. That was to offset the impact of zero income at Tynecastle, and Stendel responded by telling Budge to pay others using his salary.
He is therefore working without a wage and is firmly behind Budge, who has been criticised over the wage cuts. "While all of us are very worried about the situation, she looked ahead," said Stendel.
"She is a leader and she looked for solutions, to make sure all her work for the last six years has a reason. When you talk with her, she knows every individual at the club has their own situation.
"They want to keep their job but they also want to keep the club. That is why Ann looked for a solution that everybody can do. It showed she is an unbelievably good person who wants to help Hearts."