Top of the Championship table and favourites to secure promotion back to the Premiership, the Easter Road side have 13 players nearing the end of their current contracts and manager Neil Lennon says the negotiations will accelerate as soon as the club knows which league it will be contesting next term.
“That is commonsense and the players would know that,” said Lennon. “We do have an eye on the contract situation but we haven’t opened negotiations yet.”
It serves as an added incentive to the squad who are hoping to consolidate their position at the top of the division with a victory over Queen of the South tomorrow, before heading to Tannadice in a fortnight to face second-placed Dundee United. “The lads are aware that they just have to concentrate on winning games at the minute,” added Lennon. “They want to create a gap between us and the rest and maybe at the turn of the year we will sit down and talk to them.” The list of stars out of contract in May is lengthy and includes many Scottish Cup winners, while others have been brought in on short-term deals by Lennon. Lewis Stevenson, pictured, David Gray, Fraser Fyvie, Liam Fontaine, Darren McGregor, James Keatings, Marvin Bartley, Martin Boyle, Grant Holt and Alex Harris are all coming to the end of their deals, along with loan signings Andrew Shinnie and Ofir Marciano, and fellow goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw.
Lennon said: “We’ll speak to one or two going forward but the remuneration will be dependent on are we going to be playing in the Premiership or the Championship next season? Some players might not want to play in the Championship next season.”