Hearts administration nightmare almost over

Robbie Neilson rates Neil Alexander as 'top-class'Robbie Neilson rates Neil Alexander as 'top-class'
Robbie Neilson rates Neil Alexander as 'top-class'
Hearts are on course to officially exit administration on Monday – 355 days after plunging into a grave financial crisis that threatened the club’s very existence.

Barring any last-minute complications, BDO joint-administrator Bryan Jackson is understood to be hopeful that the process will be signed off by the Court of Session at the start of next week.

The Tynecastle side went into administration on 19 June last year with debts of £28.5 million and Jackson was forced to make 13-non playing staff and four players redundant.

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Ahead of the first anniversary, it now looks certain that Jackson will not have to apply for an administration extension beyond 19 June.

Ann Budge completed her £2.5 million takeover of Hearts on 9 May and the self-made IT millionaire will run the business for up to five years before handing it over to fans’ group, the Foundation of Hearts.

Hearts’ transfer embargo will be lifted should the club exit administration on Monday, and the Edinburgh side will also avoid incurring another 15-point penalty for next season’s Championship campaign.

New head coach Robbie Neilson has already been linked with Dundee United midfielder Morgaro Gomis, St Mirren defender Darren McGregor and striker James Keatings, who has turned down a contract offer at Premiership newcomers Hamilton.

Keatings, who began his career with Celtic, scored 15 goals in 35 appearances for Alex Neil’s side as they finished their 2013-14 campaign with a Scottish Premiership play-off final victory over Hibernian.

A statement on Hamilton’s official Twitter account said: “Striker James Keatings has indicated he is moving on and goes with our thanks and good wishes.”

Jamie Hamill, meanwhile, is ready to do his best to make sure he is reunited with former Hearts manager Gary Locke after returning to old club Kilmarnock.

Hamill penned a three-year deal with his first club on Monday after a successful three-year spell working at Hearts under Locke, who made the step up from first-team coach to Gorgie boss in February last year.

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Both were told last month that they no longer had a future at Tynecastle following the installation of Craig Levein as director of football and Neilson as Hearts’ new head coach after Budge’s takeover.

Locke’s departure in particular prompted sympathy given the way he had steered his team through some difficult times and led them to just one defeat in the last eight games of a troubled campaign.

Now, with Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston seeking a new assistant following the departure of Sandy Clark, Hamill is keen to see Locke also return to Rugby Park, where the pair were team-mates during Jim Jefferies’ tenure in the dugout.

He said: “Gary Locke did very well last season with Hearts and hopefully he can come here and join myself as well.

“I would love to see him here and I’ll maybe give him a wee phone in the next few days to try and get him involved.”

Hamill’s first competitive game for Kilmarnock next season will be his 150th for the club he joined 11 years ago but he will have to wait for that appearance as he will sit out the opening match of the Premiership campaign due to suspension.

The ban harks back to the bizarre episode on 19 April when the versatile midfielder barged Ross County manager Derek Adams to the ground as he celebrated scoring a penalty, the first goal in a 2-0 win at Tynecastle.

The incident earned Hamill a four-match suspension, one of which is suspended and one of which remains outstanding.

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It is a momentary lapse the one-time Scotland under-21 cap has confessed he rues.

Speaking to STV, he said: “It was difficult. It was just the emotion through the season.

“There was nothing had been said beforehand or anything like that. It was just a spur of the moment thing.

“I do obviously regret it now. But, at the end of the day, it’s happened and what can I do? I’ve been punished for it and we’ve got to move on.”

l Dundee left-back Willie Dyer has agreed a new one-year deal. The 27-year-old made 26 appearances last season as Dundee won the Championship title.