CASH concerns legitimately place limitations on loyalty.
Amid chat in January that he was tempted to leave Hearts and take up an offer from Partick Thistle, Ryan Stevenson said if Hearts “were playing on the moon” he would be there, so “smitten” was he by the Tynecastle experience.
However, that changed when Craig Levein swept in as director of football on the first day of the Ann Budge era almost a month ago. The 29-year-old was asked to accept a 25 per cent wage reduction on top of the 50 per cent cut he had taken when the club plunged into administration last summer. Stevenson’s devotion was destroyed at that point.
And so, following four years broken only by an ill-fated six months at Ipswich in 2012, Gorgie has given way to Maryhill, the player penning a two-year deal with Thistle.
Stevenson may have something of a heavy heart about that. The fact his move allows him to remain in the top flight on decent terms is, though, ultimately preferable to the lightening of the wallet which would be required of him with a drop down to the Championship.
“With the wage structure [at Hearts] I was going to have to take another cut. To take that on top of the 50 per cent I’d already taken was going to be difficult for me,” he says. “If you ask anyone to take a 75 per cent pay cut it’s going to be difficult. That’s the way it was, that was the budget they were working to and that’s fine.
“If that’s what it takes to get Hearts back that’s the way it has to be. I was happy enough to walk away if that was for the greater good of Hearts. Personally, taking a 75 per cent cut was going to be too much. It was disappointing because obviously I wanted to be part of trying to get Hearts back. I didn’t want to leave after getting them relegated.
“I will always look back as a Hearts fan now. Fingers crossed they bounce back at the first opportunity.”
His former manager Gary Locke, bulleted within an hour of Levein and Budge taking charge, looks set to bounce back with a former club. He has been linked with the role as assistant to Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston.
Stevenson long pleaded for Locke to be given a chance to continue at Hearts and the attacker isn’t now keen to point fingers at his pleas being ignored.
“Lockey left and I was called in not long after him so I don’t know the full ins and outs of what happened,” he says. “These decisions probably weren’t easy for those who made them. The main thing for me is to do well for Partick and for Gary it’s to get back into football as soon as possible.
“If anybody deserves being a manager it’s him. Working with him over the past four years I know he’s going to be a top manager. I don’t know the full story of what happened. I don’t know what was said to him but I do know he’ll have been disappointed. He’s Hearts and so are his family. It was his dream job and I know first-hand he would have been gutted. But he’s big enough and definitely ugly enough to dust himself down. He is a driven person, he wants to do well for himself in life and I hope he gets a good job soon. I think Killie will be a good fit for him.”