Hearts at critical stage in Daniel Stendel talks
German still heavy favourite for Tynecastle after visiting Edinburgh
Hearts have reached a critical point in negotiations with Daniel Stendel as their search for a new manager enters a fifth week.
Discussions took place between Hearts and Stendel earlier this week following the German's visit to Edinburgh last weekend. He has held talks with club officials and been shown round both Riccarton and Tynecastle Park.
The Hearts owner Ann Budge was in Manchester on Wednesday, but the Evening News has been told she was not there to meet the former Barnsley coach. She is weighing up several options as she seeks a replacement manager fully four weeks after sacking Craig Levein.
Stendel is the heavy favourite to land the job at Tynecastle, with some bookmakers suspending betting on the next Hearts manager market. He is interested in working in Scotland but is also keen to see what options arise in England - where his stock is still high following impressive work at Oakwell.
Finances will be key to any potential agreement with other important issues also still up in the air. Stendel received details on Hearts' coaching restructure plans during his trip north. The club are also seeking a sporting director to work alongside, but not above, any new manager.
Stendel, 45, is free to join a new club after reaching an agreement to end his Barnsley contract, which was due to run until next summer.
Others interviewed for the Hearts job earlier this month include Stuart McCall, Steve Cotterill, Alan Irvine and Neil McCann.
Regardless of any potential developments on the managerial front, interim manager Austin MacPhee is expected to be in charge of Hearts for Sunday's Premiership match against Rangers at Ibrox.
It is the first of eight games for the Edinburgh club during a demanding December period.