JAMIE HAMILL today revealed he couldn’t reject a wage cut at Hearts after seeing thousands of supporters rallying to save their club.
The defender feared having to leave Tynecastle if he refused to halve his salary, and witnessing fans’ reaction following the descent into administration convinced him to stay.
Jamie MacDonald, Ryan Stevenson and Kevin McHattie had already agreed to reduced wages before Hamill joined them yesterday. John Sutton has also been asked to take a drop in money but has hitherto refused. He is now expected to leave Hearts, with Motherwell eager to take him back to Fir Park.
Hamill took the weekend to consider whether to accept lower wages after the proposal was put to him last Thursday. He admitted that watching supporters buy up more than 1000 season tickets in three days made it difficult to refuse. “I had a few days to go away and think about it and I saw the fans rallying round, as I knew they would,” he said. “Seeing them buying season tickets and auctioning things off, that persuaded me as well. You realise the fanbase here in Edinburgh is massive. I didn’t know if I would be in a job or not when the administrators came in. Thankfully, I’m still here. I feel I’ve got unfinished business at Hearts after being injured for a year so hopefully this gives me a chance to kick on.
“If I was to lose my job here, you couldn’t imagine where you would be because there are so many players out of contract. I’d hopefully manage to get something but I’d be going into the unknown. I’d definitely have been taking a step down. I know the size of Hearts, it’s a massive club and the biggest club in Edinburgh.”
Manager Gary Locke called Hamill several times over the weekend hoping to get an answer from him. “I don’t know how many times he phoned me, you’ll have to check his phone bill,” laughed Hamill. “There were certainly a few missed calls, voicemails and texts. I think he was a wee bit panicked but there was no sweat in the end.”
Hearts begin next season minus 15 points and banned from registering new players as a result of entering administration. Hamill pointed out the extra responsibility that will put on younger members of the team. “We need everybody. Some of the younger boys coming through played 20-odd games last season so they’re not kids any more. They need to stand up and be counted. They have experience of playing at Tynecastle and other grounds. Basically, we’re looking for the younger players to step up, as well as myself and a few others.
“I believe we can overturn the 15-point deficit and I’m looking forward to getting started. I’ve done a wee bit through the close season to keep my fitness up but it’s very difficult when you don’t know what’s happening at the club. When things like this happen it’s hard to focus on getting yourself right mentally. You don’t know what the next day might bring. I’ve tried to keep myself ticking over but it has been hard.”
Bryan Jackson, the BDO administrator in charge at Hearts, has pleaded with the Scottish Football Association not to fine the club. An SFA judicial panel is due to consider a range of extra punishments which could be applied to Hearts for entering administration. These include a censure, fine or fixed-term registration embargo.
“Any monetary penalty would be a big, big concern in how we’d get over that,” said Jackson. “We understand why there has to be sanctions, we understand the rule is there, but it’s a real pressure on us in a lot of ways. If there are any sanctions that are material in any way, that can be the difference that just puts you over the edge.”