'I wouldn’t want anyone else in charge' - Hearts legend Gary Locke backs Ann Budge to guide club through tough times

Ann Budge has been forced to make some tough decisions due to the football shutdown

By Joel Sked
Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 4:45 pm

Hearts legend Gary Locke believes there is no better person to guide the club through the current situation than Ann Budge.

The Tynecastle chairman has come in for criticism for her decision to ask staff to take a 50 per cent wage cut.

It has prompted PFA Scotland to enter dialogue with Hearts to assist the players to see that wages are deferred rather than simply cut.

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Gary Locke has backed Ann Budge to guide Hearts through a tricky period. Picture: SNS

Locke, speaking to PLZ Soccer’s Peter Martin, was full of praise for Budge, noting her experience of helping steer the club out of administration and onto a solid footing.

He said: “I think the boss took a big decision but I think it was the right one. Ann has to look after Heart of Midlothian. She’s not having to look after Hibs or Rangers or Celtic. She has to take care of Hearts.

“Every club in the world is going to have to bring in wage cuts, it’s the only way forward for everyone at the minute.

“We do not know when we will be playing football again and with no income coming in obviously cuts are going to have to take place.

“The thing the boss has looked at is, she wants to try to keep all the full time staff there after we come out of this. I think this was the only way forward.”

He added: “What the boss is trying to do is look after every single person at Hearts. You’ve obviously got to look after the first-team players but we also have academy players, academy staff, you’ve got the staff who work for the club.

“I take my hat off to the boss, not just because I get on well with Ann and have a great relationship with her, she’s seen this coming long before everyone else. She’s moved first and it’s inevitable that clubs will do something very similar in the next couple of weeks.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else in charge. I see everything that goes on behind the scenes at Hearts. I’d argue we are one of the best run clubs in the country the way Ann runs it.”

Locke reckons Hearts should get the chance, with eight games of the league remaining, to avoid relegation on the pitch rather than possibly being demoted.

The former Tynecastle boss, whatever the outcome, would like to see the chance taken to increase the size of the league.

“I would love to see, and I’ve cried about this for years, a bigger top flight and that’s not because Hearts are bottom of the league.

“I think we play each other too many times and the players get a bit stale in Scotland because they play each other so many times.

“I think it’s an ideal opportunity to make the top flight a 16 team league. Even a 14 team league and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work we can go back to 12 but at the minute I would love to see us make the top flight bigger.”