Gary Locke insists it would be ‘sensible’ for Hearts stars to accept pay cut

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HEARTS legend Gary Locke has urged Tynecastle stars to make the ‘sensible’ choice and accept Ann Budge’s salary ultimatum.

All full-time staff at the capital club have been told to accept 50 per cent reductions to their salaries by March 31 or request their release, while academy coaches who work fewer than 20 hours per week have been placed on unpaid leave.

It has also been mooted that Budge could use the controversial clause 12 in all SPFL players’ deals to suspend the contracts of those who do not fall into line, with the owner confirming on Friday night that she has not waived that option.

Former Hearts captain, coach and manager Locke now works for the club as an ambassador and is directly affected by the current situation – and he has backed the boss.

Locke said: “Ann Budge has said that if we don’t agree to the cuts then we’ll need to look at something else, which isn’t ideal. But every club is going to be in the same position over the next couple of weeks.

“There’s barely a club in Scotland that will be able to pay full salary while we are in lockdown.

“Fortunately for us, Ann has had the sense to do it first so that we all know what’s happening. The boys will need to accept it or move on.

“We were offered the 50 per cent cut and you are better getting something than nothing. I think it would be a sensible decision for most players at the minute to accept it, because we don’t know when football will get back again. It could be another two or three months.”

While Hearts seek to safeguard their financial future, Locke addressed the Jambos’ precarious Premiership position, claiming it would be an ‘injustice’ if they were to be relegated without the campaign being played to a conclusion.

Locke continued: “The SPFL are SFA are going to need to get together and decide what is happening [with the 2019/20 season] and when we do eventually get back, there’s a big decision to be made.

“If we were to be relegated then we wouldn’t be happy with it. If we were 24 points adrift with eight games left then fine, you’re relegated. But we are four points behind with 24 still to play for. It would be a bit of an injustice if they were to relegate us based on that.”

Paulo Sergio, pictured, led Hearts to cup glory

Meanwhile, Locke, who confessed he has been ‘bored out of his tree’ during lockdown this week, has revealed he passed the time on Friday evening by lapping up a re-run of the 2012 Scottish Cup final on the TV.

He was first-team coach under Paulo Sergio for the iconic 5-1 triumph over city rivals Hibs – and will never tire of lapping up happier times for the club.

Locke told BBC Scotland’s Off the Ball: “I sat in the house with a carry-out watching that on Friday night! We’ve not had too many good times recently, so that was good. It was nice to see Hearts winning something for a change.”

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