Daniel Stendel's talks on Hearts future hinge on SPFL decision
His contract, which runs until summer 2022, is not valid outwith the top flight so he will be free to leave if Hearts end up in the Championship. He and Budge have yet to formally talk about whether he might stay on in that case.
Stendel has not ruled out continuing as manager at Tynecastle Park but there would need to be negotiations over a new contract and other terms and conditions for him to remain.
With his team sitting four points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership, the Scottish Professional Football League are expected to make a decision on ending this season’s top flight before the end of the month.
They have the power to halt the campaign and determine final league placings based on average points per game, despite most teams having at least eight matches outstanding.
That would hand Celtic the title, send Hearts into the second tier and leave Stendel effectively a free agent. The German is currently at home in Hannover waiting to see what fate befalls his club.
Timo Rodewald, Stendel's representative, told the Evening News: “Daniel is happy at Hearts, he likes Edinburgh and Scotland. He is feeling comfortable in Edinburgh and now has to wait and see what happens. It is not like he is running away to get out of Scotland.
“I personally think it would not be fair to punish one team and force them to relegate kind of 'in the middle of the season' – whether it was Hearts or any other team.
“If Hearts go down, Daniel's future will need to be discussed. So far we haven’t talked about it. He has not decided on anything at this moment.”
Stendel, 46, joined Hearts last December to replace Craig Levein, the former manager and director of football who was shunted into a background role by Budge.
He appointed fellow German Jorg Sievers as his assistant and Englishman Dale Tonge in a first-team coaching role. Whilst coaching the Hearts squad, Stendel has also had to work on scouting and recruitment due to the absence of a sports director at Riccarton.
He would like more support in those areas if he is to stay on, but it remains to be seen if he will return to Edinburgh. He is currently working without a salary whilst awaiting the SPFL’s decision on the Premiership.