The record-holder for the number of appearances for the Tynecastle club, Mackay believes that playing this season in the Championship would have been better for Gary Locke’s squad and hastened the club’s recovery, whereas the current fight to beat the drop could be jeopardising their careers.
“If you don’t have your own personal agenda at Heart of Midlothian Football Club, you allow the club to go into administration and go into the First Division this season,” he said yesterday. “The benefit would have been that the development of the young players would have been in a less pressurised situation, and Rangers wouldn’t be coming into the division that Hearts look like they are going to be in next season.
“There would still have been pressure, because Hearts would have been the big guns, but you could make a parallel with Hibernian when they went down to the First Division. Hearts have had exceptional crowds – if you look at the fact they had 4,000 more against Kilmarnock than Hibs did in the space of a four-day period – but these crowds would have been the same, if not more, in the First Division with a team that had the confidence of winning games.
“I think we could be damaging a lot of talented young footballers. And not just that, but also maybe taking a year or two off the careers of the Jamie Hamills and the Ryan Stevensons along the way, because of the demands on them.”
While accepting that the finances of Kaunas-based companies Ubig and Ukio were the cause of Hearts’ collapse, Mackay thinks that managing director David Southern and director of football John Murray should take responsibility for the timing of the move into administration. “There was one statement in June that it was down to the supporters not doing things quickly enough that the club was in the kind of situation it was, but that hopefully they could react and things would improve to get us through the summer,” he continued. “Three days later we were in administration.
“We have, as a group of supporters, been hoodwinked for a number of years. When you’ve had a chief executive who has been in the post for two-and-a-half years before you went into administration, the buck doesn’t always stop with the Lithuanians.
“I don’t know who made that decision, but I have my feelings on who made the judgment, because, when the Lithuanians weren’t there, there were only two people who could make that judgment – and that was the managing director and the director of football. They have made, for me, the wrong decision for the well-being of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.”