Gary Mackay: Hearts players can save us - but what loyalty now?

Hearts owner Ann Budge has a lot to deal withHearts owner Ann Budge has a lot to deal with
Hearts owner Ann Budge has a lot to deal with
Club continues to make high-profile gaffes and it must effect the mindset of staff who have been asked to take a pay cut

I have huge sympathy for everybody given the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. At Hearts, I have huge sympathy for the club employees asked to drop their wages by 50 per cent.

I went through it as manager at Airdrie. They are a completely different size of club to Hearts but it was such a difficult thing to deal with. We had to take players into the office and it was more our senior players who accepted the reductions.

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At the time, Eddie Forrest and Austin McCann didn’t want to take a pay cut and their representative didn’t want them to either. Nothing against them or their representative, that was just the choice they made as individuals at that time.

Everybody at Hearts will have different reasons for their own thoughts on this. You have the football side but you also have the non-football employees. Some of them worked through administration and came through that.

They now have families and they are being asked to take pay cuts. Aligned to that, the club they are working for are saying in emails that they might pay money for players in the summer. It’s completely hypocritical.

At a club the size of Hearts, you need to look at individuals and their circumstances. This isn’t a group situation. Yes, you need to support one another but every person will have different circumstances. It might have been better to deal with them individually.

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How do these employees feel when they are being asked to drop salaries and yet Hearts might sign players for transfer fees in a couple of months? It beggars belief.

For being a professional football club, it probably puts the tin lid on how unprofessional Heart of Midlothian have been for quite a period of time. I wondered if the email was a hoax because of how bewildered I was. But was I surprised? No, I wasn’t.

The fact Ann Budge came out early and made the club’s situation clear after football was shutdown was important. She was realistic about what the circumstances are going to be going forward. No-one knows what the short-term future holds and that applies to life in general, not just football. The decisions had to be made.

The concerning aspect for me is that we have made that decision early because we were well above budget for what we have achieved on the field this season. That continues to be a bugbear.

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When you play football, you take the praise but you have to take the criticism as well. That’s just the way it is. You can try to grow stronger for the criticism. Hearts, as a club, haven’t learned from the criticism.

We haven’t learned from the criticism levelled at Ian Cathro. We then went into another situation which hasn’t progressed the club. We now look very much like we might have to start going down a similar route as we did coming out of administration.

We are still at Tynecastle with a great stadium and facilities, but if we are relegated it is catastrophic. Whether it happens through a choice by the governing bodies or because we play our last eight games and can’t get enough points to stay in the Premiership, then we have totally failed on the football park.

Look at the clubs in the bottom half of the league around us just now. You could probably add together the budgets of three of those teams and the total still wouldn’t come to Hearts’ player budget for this season. That highlights the mistakes made.

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Regarding the email sent to agents, yes, you do have to prepare for the summer to ensure you are looking forward. However, for me, that email probably highlights where our football club is now. After the amount of players who have come in and out of Tynecastle, we are now looking for more again.

That really should make someone look in the mirror and think: ‘What have we done here with this golden opportunity? How have we allowed it to slip through our fingers?’

Players must be wondering what is going on. They are the only people who are going to get Hearts out of this trouble. They will be wondering if it’s their position under threat. So then they will ask themselves if they are going to break their backs to help.

It will take some real strength of character for each individual to do that now on the back of that email. It seems it’s not what we think as supporters, or what anybody in the boardroom thinks, it’s what the football department are saying they need for next season. The very same football department that was behind the recruitment of the guys in the jerseys just now.

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