Tynecastle crisis

Hearts chief Budge threatens to suspend players’ wages

Ultimatum: Ann Budge (pic: SNS Group)

The Hearts wages saga has taken another twist with owner Ann Budge believed to have threatened to suspend the salaries of players who don’t agree to take a 50% pay cut.

In a move which is sure to cause further disharmony in Gorgie, the Tynecastle chairman has given the Jambos until next Wednesday to make their decisions.

It is the latest ultimatum handed down by Budge, who announced swingeing cost-cutting measures in the wake of the season being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Staff have also been offered the 50% cut – or redundancy.

Skipper Steven Naismith is one of the few players to accept the proposal.

Thanks to a little-known Clause 12, player contracts can be treated differently after the Scottish FA postponed the domestic season, with legal advice from the SPFL confirming clubs can now suspend payments if players refuse a wage reduction.

Budge has since informed the first-team squad of her latest threat, telling the players: “This suspension by the SFA automatically suspends the agreement between you and the club governing your employment as a player.

“The precise effects of the suspension of the agreement are an extremely complex matter which the club is considering carefully.

“In the meantime, the club has decided that up until 31 March 2020 it will continue to pay your remuneration under the agreement.

“However, any continued payments of remuneration will be paid under the express condition that this is without prejudice to the question of whether you are entitled to receive them under the agreement following its suspension.

“It may be that, as we have discussed previously, the continued payments mentioned above will need to be adjusted.

“We reserve the right to make those adjustments if and when it becomes clear that this is necessary for the future sustainability of the club.

Clubs must not and should not be unilaterally imposing contractual changes such as wage cuts

– Fraser Wishart, PFA

“If you do not agree with the express condition mentioned above, then by Wednesday 1 April 2020 at the latest you should (1) inform the club in writing that you do not agree and (2) instruct your bank to return any payments received after 1 April 2020 from or on behalf of the club.

“If we do not hear from you by 5pm on April 1 2020, we will take it that you do agree with our express condition.”

Discussing the current plight facing clubs in Scotland, PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said: “Clubs must not and should not be unilaterally imposing contractual changes such as wage cuts.

“Further, the pandemic cannot and should not be used as a reason for terminating contracts – time-consuming and costly litigation in the civil courts and disputes before the League will not be in anyone’s interests at this difficult time.

“The union believes that the welfare of clubs, players and Scottish football is best served by all interested stakeholders coming together now to work through the formidable challenges presented by these extraordinary testing times.”

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