HEARTS paid their players’ deferred November wages last week and will pay the squad’s December salaries today, two days early, manager John McGlynn said yesterday.
Once confirmed, the club’s return to its normal schedule of payments should mean no renewal of the SPL’s current transfer embargo, which expires a week on Sunday.
With director Sergejus Fedotovas having warned that the club will again face severe financial difficulties next month, McGlynn knows that the ending of the embargo does not necessarily mean he will be able to recruit new players when the transfer window opens. But he has been encouraged by the players’ attitude to the club’s woes, and is pleased that they will have one thing less to worry about over the festive period.
“The deferrals have been paid last week, and everyone will be paid their December wages on Friday,” McGlynn said. “It’s good news, From a manager’s point of view, the less hassle the players have got the better, because it keeps them very focused.
“To be fair, the players have been outstanding and have accommodated and worked with the football club tremendously well.
“I know last year they had the same situation but, by all accounts, the players have been kept better informed this time and they’ve been obliging.
“Last season they got some great results when they weren’t getting paid, and that’s kind of also been the situation again this season. So the players take a lot of credit but it’s good to know that they’re going to get paid, because they’ve got kids and they’ll all be wanting a good Christmas. So it’s nice to know they’re going to get their wages on time and they won’t have any excess pressure on them during what is also a busy time football-wise as well.”
McGlynn has yet to learn if, once the embargo is lifted, the club will give him funds to strengthen his squad. He has hinted before that some higher earners might have to leave before he can recruit anyone, and knows that maintaining the squad as it is might be the best he can hope for.
“Obviously, Hearts financially are still in a tricky situation. Players who are out of contract at the end of the season could possibly go in January if Hearts were to get an offer they felt they couldn’t refuse.
“That could possibly leave us short so, if there are players leaving, then if they are players on big wages, then maybe we could bring players in for less money. That would still make us survive until the end of the season and give us an opportunity to win football matches. And then we wouldn’t have to put 16 or 17 year olds out there.
“I would be quite happy to go with the players we have got. If no-one comes in with an offer we are satisfied with then we will go with what we have got. I am not for one minute trying to lose players. It is not in my benefit to lose players.”
Lithuanian striker Arturas Rimkevicius has been on trial at Riccarton this week and, if permitted to sign, would at least give McGlynn an extra option up front. But the manager suggested it was too early to tell if the 29-year-old would be a useful addition.
“He trained with us on Tuesday and it looks like he is short on fitness, which we can understand as his season finished a month ago. His fitness has got to better but it is positive.”
If Hearts were in dire need of cutting costs next month, they could conceivably allow some players to leave simply to get them off the wage bill. Understandably, it is a path that McGlynn would rather not take. “That would be a board decision to let someone walk out who was on big money. It is not one a manager would encourage but the most important thing is that Hearts survive. If that was the case and the board felt it had to be done, as long as I can get eleven lads on to the park, then that is how it will be.”
Although this has been a difficult season so far for Hearts, and could yet get worse, McGlynn believes that, provided he can maintain his squad around its present levels, the team should be competing towards the top of the league.
Eighth at present following last week’s win over Aberdeen, they are three points behind sixth-placed St Johnstone, who they play tomorrow, and just seven adrift of Inverness, who are second.
“There are a number of games we should have taken points from and we should be sitting in a higher position. If we can win against St Johnstone on Saturday then we will go above them on goal difference,” added McGlynn. “We would be in a positive position with other games coming up. We have Dundee United at home, Kilmarnock away and Ross County away – games I feel we can win.
“I believe we can finish as high as any of the other teams. At the moment it can be seen as not the type of season we’ve been looking for, but we’re still not that far away from teams who have gone on ten-game unbeaten runs, or Inverness who have lost once in sixteen.”