Robbie Neilson leaves Hearts to join MK Dons

Robbie Neilson aims to revive the fortunes of MK Dons
Robbie Neilson aims to revive the fortunes of MK Dons
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Robbie Neilson has left his role as Hearts head coach to join MK Dons.

The clubs finalised a compensation agreement today for Neilson and assistant coach Stevie Crawford.

Neilson leaves Hearts second in the Scottish Premiership after a rousing 2-0 win against Rangers on Wednesday night. Fans chanted his name near the end of his farewell match in recognition of his achievements at Tynecastle.

He led Hearts to the Scottish Championship title by a 21-point margin in 2015 and then guided them to third place and European qualification in their first season back in the top flight.

He now takes charge of a club 19th in England’s League One believing he can revive MK Dons’ fortunes under the stewardship of chairman Pete Winkelman.

The 36-year-old was at Riccarton today saying farewell and collecting his belongings before travelling to Buckinghamshire.

Under-20 coaches Jon Daly and Andy Kirk will take temporary charge of Hearts for this weekend’s league match at Ross County.

Ian Cathro, the Newcastle United assistant coach, is expected to replace Neilson but his arrival is not expected until next week.

A Hearts statement read: “The club can confirm that we have agreed terms with Milton Keynes Dons FC in relation to Head Coach Robbie Neilson and Assistant Head Coach Stevie Crawford.

“Ann Budge, the Board of Directors and everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club would like to sincerely thank Robbie and Stevie for the enormous part they have played in helping to re-establish the club in the upper echelons of Scottish football.

“The record-breaking 2014-15 Championship-winning season, which secured our promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking, will long live in the memory of Hearts supporters, as will the highly impressive third-place finish and the return to European football which was achieved the following season.

“They leave us in an enviable position, sitting second in the Premiership table with a healthy playing squad, rich with talent and promise. We wish them every success in their new challenge with Milton Keynes Dons FC.

“We will now begin the formal process of recruiting a new Head Coach and Assistant Head Coach.

“A further statement confirming interim arrangements for our game against Ross County on Saturday, will be released tomorrow morning.”