Hearts chief Ann Budge on players wanting deferrals, the club's wage policy and how the current climate could last six months
Hearts are set to put their playing staff on furlough with 30 per cent cut in wages
Hearts chairman Ann Budge believes that the current climate in Scottish football will last for six months, as she explained the club’s stance on wage cuts rather than wage deferrals.
Budge released a statement on Friday noting their plans to place the playing staff on furlough leave.
In the release it was noted that no player has been asked to take a wage cut of higher than 30 per cent, down from the 50 per cent that was requested last month.
Hearts have been able to recalculate due to help from the Government’s job retention scheme, Budge informed the BBC as she confirmed that some staff have offered to take a cut greater than 30 per cent.
The owner has spoken with every member of the first-team squad, with the exception of two who she will speak to on Monday, and explained the club’s position regarding the wage cuts.
“Some have, in the course of that conversation, said they’d be happy to accept the proposal,” she told the BBC. “Others have indicated all they want to do is have a wee chat with wives, some cases agents, and others are sticking to the position that they want to discuss it with the PFA.
“It’s more about the fact I’m asking about a cut and not asking for a deferral. A number of players have said that they would be very willing to talk deferrals but not prepared to talk cuts.”
No clubs are the same
Hearts have come in for criticism in some quarters for asking staff to take cuts rather than deferrals.
Budge explained in detail the club’s wage position, which goes back six years to when she first took over, and why they have been required to take such a measure.
She said: "No two clubs are run the same, they are all different. We have different structures, different wage policies, different ownership models. We are all very different.
“The decision I took when I looked at the contracts is that we had players with a huge variation in their type of contract. Basics topped by appearance money, goal-scoring bonuses, win bonuses, all sorts of bonuses.
“Given that we were resetting wage levels I took the view that it was fairer on the players that like the majority of us in the workplace they know what they are getting paid month by month. We decided to pay a higher basic and not rely on bonuses.
“What it has meant up until now is that any player who has been working for Hearts over the last six years, if they have been injured they don’t lose any of the wages. You have a change of manager and a player is out of favour and he doesn’t lose any of his wages.
“Now, you could argue that is not the right model for football but I believed a few years ago that was the fair thing to do.
“A lot of our players have benefited enormously from that over the last couple of years. I think we need to recognise they are in a different position so they do have higher basics.
“If I’m talking about a 30 per cent cut it is a different thing from some of the other clubs who are not in such a difficult position because their basic wages are a lot less.”
There is no return date set for Scottish football, with Uefa optimistic about getting leagues around Europe concluded in July and August.
Budge doesn’t quite share the same optimism with the view it may be six months which has only exacerbated the need for the cuts, especially with no outside investment.
League rivals Aberdeen have been boosted by £2million from the investor group led by chairman Dave Cormack.
“The other main point I’m trying to get across to the players is the significance of ownership structure,” Budge said. “We’ve all seen what’s been happening in Scottish football over the last couple of years. We’ve got a lot of investment in many cases from the (United) States.
“I’ve had to turn down investment opportunities because this club is already fan owned. I’m only sitting here because I am a Hearts supporter and I’m looking after it for the other supporters. That means we can’t go to a number of investors and say ‘can you help us out?’. This club has been funded by supporters and benefactors for the last six years.
“What is fine for Hibs, Aberdeen, Rangers or any of the other clubs is fine but it just doesn’t work for us at this moment in time.
“Regardless of what we have in the bank this is going to last for six months in my opinion and therefore we need to put a plan in place to stretch that runway to make sure we can last that six months.
“It is to give us that longer period before we run out of money. If nothing changes then I’ve said, as other clubs have said, if we get into August and there is still no football then it will be back to the drawing board.”