SENTIMENT may have no place in business and prospective new Hearts owner Ann Budge did not make her fortune by allowing emotion to influence her judgement.
But, as she prepares to make her presence felt at the Tynecastle club, should a UBIG creditors meeting in Lithuania next month clear the way for administration to be exited, Budge would do well to spare more than a passing thought for Gary Locke.
Reports that Budge is already planning a managerial change at Hearts appear to have substance, despite claims from those close to her that it is simply speculation at this stage.
If Locke is sacked, it would unquestionably be one of the most heartless managerial dismissals in Scottish football history.
No-one should underestimate the difficulty of the task Locke has undertaken with unflinching commitment and outstanding dignity since Hearts’ financial collapse. He has not been without his critics among the Hearts support for some of the team’s performances.
But, as with Ally McCoist at Rangers, it is simply not possible to make a full and proper assessment of Locke’s abilities as a manager when he is forced to operate under such restrictive circumstances.
Locke’s situation, in fact, has been even more prohibitive than the one faced by McCoist. Working with a youthful squad, many of whom would be nowhere near first-team football under normal conditions, little more could have been expected of Locke. Without the 15-point penalty they brought upon themselves by going into administration, Hearts would be just a point behind both Ross County and Partick Thistle at the bottom of the Premiership.
While relegation to the Championship has long seemed inevitable, it would at least be something of a moral success for Lock and his players if they were to finish the campaign anything less than 15 points adrift at the foot of the table.
Gary Locke deserves better than to be reading reports of his dismissal even before Ann Budge has her feet under the desk in the Tynecastle boardroom. He deserves the opportunity to try and prove himself as Hearts manager in the post-administration era.