Hearts to reduce wage bill to £3.5m

HEARTS intend to reduce their annual wage budget to £3.5million by next season, taking it down to its lowest level since Vladimir Romanov gained control.

The last set of club 
accounts showed wages at £8m for the period to June 2011 and directors want those costs cut by more than half in time for next summer.

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The Evening News has learned that Hearts’ current wage bill sits around the £5m mark having been dramatically reduced since the last set of accounts was released. A number of high-earning players have left, allowing the club to operate with a smaller number of senior players.

The Tynecastle board want wages further reduced to £3.5m by the start of next season as they return to a financial structure similar to the one used before Romanov took control in 2005. The £3.5m figure is seen as sustainable if the club is to operate efficiently without aid from its parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group. As such, a number of Hearts’ current high earners in the final year of their contracts will either have to accept a reduced pay or leave in search of pastures new. Amongst those whose deals expire next June are captain Marius Zaliukas, defender Andy Webster and winger Andy Driver. A total of 14 players are out of contract next summer and Hearts are prepared to let some deals expire without offering a renewal. Those given a chance to re-sign will be offered a salary which fits in with the new budget.

Hearts have held talks with Australian internationalist 
defender Ryan McGowan, who is one of the players in the final year of his contract. To date there has been no agreement over an extension.