Hearts captain Steven Naismith accepts 50% pay cut and hopes to contribute to survival of club
Experienced forward says he is making a commitment to stay at club
Hearts captain Steven Naismith has decided to accept a 50 per cent pay cut to help the club survive during the coronavirus crisis, while committing to play for the club “whatever division they are in next season”.
The 33-year-old Scotland internationalist revealed in a statement that he wanted to help “save jobs” at the Ladbrokes Premiership team after owner Ann Budge earlier this week asked all staff to halve their salaries during the suspension of the football season.
Naismith, who is contracted to Hearts until 2023, admitted “football has been good to him” after a successful career playing for the Jambos, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Everton and Norwich City. He has also won 51 caps for his country.
With Scottish football firmly on ice due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in Britain and beyond, there is no definitive date for its return, which is having a severe impact on the finances of numerous clubs across the land. Hearts are currently four points adrift at the bottom of the league and there is no clarity on what will happen with the remaining games of the 2019/20 campaign.
“Like my team-mates, I’ve been thinking a lot about the request from Hearts to reduce our wages by 50 per cent to help the club and protect as many jobs as possible during this uncertain period,” said Naismith. “I have discussed it at great length with my family.
“The current circumstances put everyone in a very difficult position, but this isn’t a problem of Hearts’ making.“My family and I feel that, through a long career, football has been very good to us. Therefore, I personally feel that I can and should accept the 50 per centreduction in wages. I hope this can contribute in some way to the long-term survival of the club at a challenging time and save jobs, especially those that are the lowest earners and hence those who will be struggling the most at this time.“I know every one of my team-mates have unique circumstances with their finances, homes and families. I can assure everyone they are all doing what they can.“As captain of Hearts, I will fully support my team-mates, whatever decision each of them makes on this matter. I am making a commitment to stay at Hearts, regardless of which league the club is in, next season and look forward to continuing to lead as captain. I consider it an honour to represent Hearts.I hope this can give some certainty in uncertain times.”
Hearts chief Budge will allow players to rip up their contracts if they do not wish to reduce their salary. Defender Clevid Dikamona is set to do just that and return to his family in France, although he will sign a deal with the Tynecastile outfit should they want him once football recommences.
It is unclear as yet what the remainder of the Hearts squad will do in what is an unprecedented and trying scenario for them and the Scottish game as a whole.