HEARTS defender Kevin McHattie has revealed he has offered to take a 50 per cent reduction in his wages as the administration-hit club fights for its very survival.
Goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and midfielder Ryan Stevenson have already agreed to a similar cut, while right-back Jamie Hamill is expected to follow suit today when he meets with manager Gary Locke.
Striker John Sutton is said to be considering his position as Hearts joint administrators Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch bid to plug a £750,000 funding gap between now and the start of the season.
As a young player who only become a regular last season with 22 appearances, the 19-year-old does not command a high wage at Tynecastle, making his gesture all the more admirable.
McHattie, who joined three years ago from Dunfermline, said: “I am happy to do whatever I can to stay at this club.
“I was speaking to my agent and he asked if I would be happy taking a cut and I said ‘yeah, definitely’. I am lucky enough to have some savings so I will stick with them.
“It’s thinking about your team-mates and people at the club as well. We don’t have a big a squad as it is. I want to stay here – it’s a magnificent club, a great family club, and I want to be here.
“I’ve done it for everything Hearts have done for me. They brought me up as a young kid to where I am now – it has been magnificent. The backroom staff have been magnificent.
“I was devastated when I heard the club was going to be placed in administration. It was a sad day for the club.”
McHattie, manager Locke and team-mates Jamie Walker and Dale Carrick were at the club ticket office yesterday to greet supporters buying new season tickets.
He added: “The fact that Jamie MacDonald and Ryan Stevenson have already taken cuts bodes well for the club’s survival – it’s remarkable of them to do that. They want to play here and it’s great to see that.”
Sporadic heavy rainfall did not deter fans from turning up to enhance the club’s survival prospects yesterday, with a steady stream filtering through the ticket office.
Those very supporters raised £1.05 million at the tail-end of last year when Hearts was on its knees over an unpaid £450,000 tax bill.
McHattie, who played down talk of interest from Leeds United, added: “All the players have to stick together – the fans have played a massive part so we have to do it for them.
“The fans have been fantastic, even through last season. They have to dig deep, which they are doing, and it’s unbelievable. It’s very humbling, even seeing them today at the club shop. There were loads of people there buying season tickets – it’s remarkable. We could not ask for any more.”
Confirming that he expects Hamill to accept a pay cut in order to stay at Tynecastle, Locke said: “We are nearly there but are meeting tomorrow to finalise things.”
The manager added: “It’s not the sort of thing a snap decision can be made on, but the signs are encouraging. Fair play to Jamie Mac and Ryan – these are the types of guys you want in your team and hopefully we’ll have more positive developments tomorrow.”