GARY Locke is in no rush to clarify his future with prospective Hearts owner Ann Budge, and does not believe he should be given preferential treatment just because he remained loyal to the club during the most perilous months in its existence.
The Hearts manager made it clear yesterday that he still thinks securing the future of the club as a whole is the priority, ranking far above any new deal for him when his current contract runs out at the end of the season. And he insisted that Budge, who is to invest £2.5 million of her own money in the Foundation of Hearts’ takeover at Tynecastle, is the right person to provide that security.
“The fact that Ann is hopefully going to come in soon is fantastic news for everyone – myself, the coaching staff, the players and most importantly the fans,” Locke said yesterday. “For anybody associated with Heart of Midlothian all we want is a bit of stability at the club again and for the club to be run sensibly. And there is no doubt about it, Ann will bring that to the club.”
Budge, who is the sole director of Bidco, the Foundation subsidiarity that plans to buy Hearts, has had informal consultations with Craig Levein about how the football side of the club should be run. The former Hearts and Scotland manager is well regarded by leading members of the Foundation, and as things stand is favourite to take over next summer, probably with former assistant manager Peter Houston as No 2.
That could leave Locke with the decision either to accept a demotion and be third in command or to end his formal association with the club he has supported all his life. But he insisted he had little time at present to look as far ahead as the summer.
“I’ve not really thought about it, to be honest with you. The biggest fight we faced this season was this club being here.
“That now looks like more of a possibility and for me that’s fantastic. I met Ann a while ago, but she is very, very busy at the minute – I think she’s working tirelessly behind the scenes.
“I’m not in a hurry to sort things out. The most important thing for me is that Hearts survive.
“When I sat down on that bleak day last June [when the club went into administration] it was a horrible experience being a Hearts supporter. There was a serious chance this club wouldn’t be here.”
Asked if he felt the loyalty he showed then should be repaid, he replied: “I don’t look at it like that. I wasn’t the only one to make sacrifices in the summer – the players did so as well, which was fantastic
“The most important thing is the club is going to move in the right direction. And that’s all that concerns me.”