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Driver admits squad may have to accept wage cuts

ANDREW DRIVER feels the Hearts players will have no option but to consider wage deferrals or cuts if the crisis at Tynecastle continues.

The club have been issued with a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill of £450,000, and have warned that their match against St Mirren a week today could be the last game it plays in its current form.

Rangers players took drops in salary of anything between 75% and 25% after the Ibrox club went into administration in February, and the Hearts squad – who, are scheduled to receive their November pay packets next week – will meet up to discuss whether they can do something similar.

"We will obviously have to talk about it," Driver said. "You wouldn't have much option if the club is near to closing down. We would need to speak to lawyers and the players' union but hopefully it won't get to that stage. We will have to take that step if it comes to it but that is not an option at the moment. That would be a last resort and we will see how it turns out this week."

Financial strife at Tynecastle has been a fact of life in the last few seasons. The club have paid their players late on a number of occasions and have been issued with previous winding-up orders.

However, the seriousness of this current situation isn't lost on Driver. The Oldham-born 24-year-old has been at Hearts for 10 years and is on first-name terms with many of the non-footballing employees of the club.

Driver was speaking as the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final draw paired his side with Inverness Caledonian Thistle in January – a match Hearts might not be around to participate in.

"This is the team I support now," Driver said. "I have been here for 10 years, since I was just a teenager. I have got to know everyone at the club. It is going to be a horrible situation if it does go under. We have got to try everything to stop that from happening."

Driver added: "It is worrying for everyone at the club, not just the players, but the one good thing is that it's a tight club. Everyone is in it together and we are all pushing in the same direction to get us out of the situation.

"The rest of the people who work for the club are in the same position and it will be preying on their minds. They have families, just as some of the boys have kids. Those are the people I am most worried about because Christmas is just around the corner and we have to hope we do get out of this.

"We are not due to be paid until next Friday but the club have been totally transparent with us and it's not as if they have hidden secrets from us. Maybe last year we weren't told much but now they tell us a lot and hopefully we will get a meeting with the powers-that-be and find out more. Jobs have been lost at lots of businesses throughout the country and we could be the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, everyone will take note and use what's happening to scare people and sort everything out."

Hearts are at least guaranteed to play Inverness in the league this afternoon. The 90 minutes the players will spend on the park is the least of their problems, but Driver said: "I think we have shown in recent years that our results have been better when there has been adversity.

"I think all of what's going on makes the players remember we are doing a job we love to do and we have to go out and do our job. The rest of it is worrying but football is the way to take your mind off it. We will concentrate on this game and forget about the negatives."

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