New Hearts chief executive Andrew McKinlay has strongly refuted any suggestion that the foundations laid following the club’s exit from administration have been eroded by relegation.
Former Scottish FA chief operating officer McKinlay is just two weeks into his role with the Tynecastle club but insists that has been enough time to appreciate that he has joined a robust club.
Owner Ann Budge has previously warned that Hearts are facing up to a £3 million drop in income following their controversial demotion from last season’s truncated Premiership.
However, McKinlay is adamant that they are in a vastly stronger position than when Budge joined forces with the Foundation of Hearts to save the decimated business in 2014.
McKinlay said: “It’s not a rebuild job, nothing like it. I’ve seen some suggestion that we’re back to where we were in 2014 and that’s miles off the mark.
“Okay, we are from a division perspective from where the club is.
“But the infrastructure of the club is fantastic and that’s down to Ann and the guys who have put that in place over the last six years.
“There is a hugely strong base to work from. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week being immersed in financials with the financial director.
“It’s a hugely strong club from that perspective.
“You have to cut your cloth accordingly in the Championship and everyone knows we were carrying a large squad.
“You’ll have seen quite a few people moving on already, some high-earning players as well moving on.”
The great imponderable for the Scottish and the wider game is the return of supporters to stadia.
Last night’s Pro14 clash between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield was sanctioned as a test event, with September 14 an indicative date for when a limited number of fans could return to football matches.
McKinlay admits the reentry of supporters would take significant pressure of club finances.
“I suppose the great unknown, not just for us but for everyone is, when are fans going to be back in stadia?, mused McKinlay, who recently served as the CEO at Scottish Golf.
“The SRU game at Murrayfield seems like baby steps, 700 people in a 67,000 capacity stadium.
“We’re hopeful we can start building that up but we’ll have to be led by the government advice.
“It’s important the governing bodies, and they are doing this, lobby on our behalf to make sure football is given a hand in all of this.”
Amid pockets of outbreaks throughout Scotland and fears of a second coronavirus spike around the globe, McKinlay was asked if Hearts could survive an entire season without welcoming fans to Tynecastle.
“We could but it would be very difficult,” he replied.
“It would be very difficult for every club in Scotland if that’s where we end up.
“We know the big clubs and know how much money some of them, including us, have but the ones that have the big incomes are also the ones that have the big expenditure.
“It would be a very, very tough season, lets put it that way. We just have to prepare for all eventualities.”