STEVEN NAISMITH is adamant enduring financial meltdown with Rangers afforded him an insight into what his Hearts teammates were going through as they wrestled with cost-cutting proposals.
Gorgie owner Ann Budge has taken a no-nonsense approach to slashing salaries at Tynecastle amid the coronavirus crisis, initially telling all players in March that they would need to take a 50 per cent drop in order to save cash.
That was subsequently reduced to between 10 and 30 per cent, largely due to to Jambos being able to take advantage of the UK government’s job retention scheme, but the dressing room were still pushing for wage deferrals rather cuts.
And club captain Naismith, who left Ibrox in the summer of 2012 following their collapse, says Hearts stars were keen to help the club in any way they could – but had to consider their own futures in the process.
“I understand from when I was at Rangers, some of the young boys – or guys on not a lot of money – wouldn’t be able to just chop their wages,” said Naismith.
“The dressing room is full of good guys who want to help and make a contribution if they can.
“But they need to be sensible and consider themselves.
“As you go down the leagues, footballers don’t earn fortunes and their jobs last until their mid-30s, 40 at best.”
Naismith, conversely, was the first player to sign up for a pay cut and took the full 50 per cent hit.
However, the Scotland striker insists his prudent lifestyle has afforded him that leeway, while also allowing him to remain grounded.
“I have tried to be sensible throughout my career,” said Naismith. “I was fortunate I didn’t move away until I was 25, I grew up with my family and my wife’s family, all my friends about me.
“It gave me a right good grounding to make me understand what it is for people going out and doing a really hard graft for relatively low pay.
“My lifestyle from when I was at Kilmarnock hasn’t drastically changed.
“I’ve bought nice things and stay in a bigger house and go on nicer holidays.
“But when I was at Rangers, Everton and Norwich, I saved 90 per cent of my wages every month.”
Meanwhile, Naismith is adamant Hearts must wise up to the pressure of a relegation battle if they are afforded the opportunity to salvage their top-flight status ON the pitch, as unlikely as that may now seem.
Hearts have illustrated their potential under Daniel Stendel with wins over Rangers twice and city rivals Hibs, yet seem incapable of seeing off their relegation rivals – losing to St Mirren and drawing at home against Hamilton.
“This is the conundrum,” Naismith told Everton’s official website. “We have good players with a lot of natural ability and we beat Rangers the last two times we played them and won against Hibs.
“But the teams around us know how to deal with the pressure and stay up.
“Our squads needs to understand it quickly or it will be a big problem when we get back playing.”