SENIOR management at Hearts have accepted that Billy Brown will take his place in the dugout for the League Cup semi-final on 2 February, despite the fact that his contract runs out two days earlier.
Brown, assistant manager to Gary Locke, was reinstated on Sunday by club administrator Bryan Jackson after previously being told that Saturday’s match against St Johnstone would be his last with the club.
Jackson said it had yet to be determined whether the 63-year-old would stay beyond the expiry of his current contract on 31 January, leading to the possibility that Brown would work with the squad in the build-up to the semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle but play no part in the match itself.
Yesterday, however, common sense prevailed, and it was agreed that for the sake of continuity, Brown would be in the technical area at Easter Road, even if it has been decided by then that he would not be offered an extension to his contract.
Jackson, managing director David Southern and director of football John Murray are all of the opinion that barring Brown from the dugout would have a needlessly disruptive effect on Hearts’ preparation for the match.
“There is no issue at all about Billy being in the dugout for the semi-final,” a source close to the club said yesterday.
“John and David want the best for the club. Yes, they have been critical of Billy, as has Bryan, but there is no way they would try to prevent him from sitting in the dugout.
“In fact it was John and David who went to Bryan after he said Billy was staying till the end of the month.
“They said that, whatever the contractual position was with Billy after the end of the month, he [Jackson] should make sure that Billy is available for the semi. Neither of them has any intention of trying to veto Billy from being in the dugout. That would be counter-productive.”
Jackson presented last week’s original decision to dispense with Brown as a cost-cutting measure, one he followed up with the announcement that both Southern and Murray were taking unspecified salary cuts.
While the presence of Brown at the sem-final will lift Locke, his team’s prospects have been hit by the suspension of Ryan Stevenson for the match. Stevenson was red carded against St Johnstone in Saturday’s stormy 3-3 draw, and his two-match ban for violent conduct will include the cup game.
Meanwhie, former Hearts captain Michael Stewart has had his say on the Brown U-turn, branding the way the club is being run as a “bit of a mess”.
With Brown now set to remain in place, Stewart has bemoaned the “mixed messages” that he believes are currently emanating from Tynecastle.
Stewart is hoping for a positive resolution to the club’s on-going administration as soon as possible so the club can move forward with more clarity.
He said: “There are a lot of mixed messages coming out. They released a statement to say Billy was leaving after the St Johnstone game and now he’s staying on until the end of the month.
“I think what that highlights is the fact that there’s too many chiefs and not enough Indians at the club at the moment.
“You’ve got the administrators, you’ve got the managing director, you’ve got a director of football, you’ve got the potential of the Foundation of Hearts coming in.
“The sooner it gets resolved the better, so that there’s a bit of leadership in there and they can actually move forward.”