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Tynecastle progress pleasing as McCoist relishes battles ahead

THEY rejoiced long and loud in Gorgie this week when Hearts took a huge stride towards exiting administration.

Ally McCoist is delighted for Gary Locke and Hearts support
Ally McCoist is delighted for Gary Locke and Hearts support

A cheer also rang out in Glasgow when it emerged creditors of Ukio Bankas in Lithuania had agreed to the terms of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and to transfer their shares.

Ally McCoist was delighted at a development that looks almost certain to ensure the survival of the stricken capital club. The Rangers manager admitted last night he is excited that his side will be up against Hearts in the SPFL Championship next season.

"I was really pleased at the news Hearts received this week," he said. "I certainly didn't want them to be liquidated and go down to the bottom because it ain't fun, it's absolutely not fun. They now look as if they are going to get the CVA and that's obviously by far and away the best scenario.

"Reading Gary Locke's interviews in the last couple of days, you can see how much it has meant to him and the Hearts support so I am genuinely pleased for him. Tynecastle is one of my favourite venues in Scotland. The fans are right on you and it's a brilliant atmosphere. It's certainly one of the fixtures we would all be looking forward to next season."

Although Hearts, docked 15 points at the start of the season for going into administration, have been relegated, McCoist has been impressed with much of the football that Locke's young charges have produced during eight turbulent months. He believes the Hearts players will be stronger for the experience and expects the club to be among Rangers' main rivals for the Championship title.

McCoist said: "They'll be a big threat. They will be a much bigger threat than people are perhaps estimating at the moment. Hearts will be stronger next season if they get the news which hopefully they will get. I spoke to Gary and I thought his boys did great. I saw them against St Mirren, saw them beat Hibs, saw them against Dundee United. They have some good talent.

"It will be a proper league next season. I have seen Raith Rovers, Dumbarton, Dundee and Hamilton this year and it's a good standard. Next year, that league will be potentially as strong as it has ever been and Hearts will be a serious threat."

McCoist has stated repeatedly that he would like to add to his Rangers squad this summer and having a major club such as Hearts to contend with has merely reinforced that view. He will find out next week whether that will happen when the chief executive Graham Wallace reveals the findings of his business review.

McCoist said: "Obviously, it's going to be a lot tougher. We will be playing against full-time teams and you'd expect a rise in the standard. I think we have a good enough team to perhaps do it, but it would be very difficult and from my own point of view I'd rather strengthen."

Nicky Law, the Rangers midfielder revealed this week that he is looking forward to having a break from abuse by his own club's supporters.

McCoist believes Law - named along with Cammy Bell, Lee McCulloch, Lee Wallace and Jon Daly, in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year yesterday - will be better equipped to cope with the demands of being a Rangers player next term.

He said: "The pressure on the boys has been massive, particularly the new guys. It has been a real eye-opener for them. I would hope the likes of Nicky, Bilel Moshni and Jon Daly will come back better and stronger. It will not be as great a shock to them."

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