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Hearts chief executive Andrew McKinlay praises off-field work at Tynecastle

Hearts of Midlothian v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Chief executive Andrew McKinlay believes Hearts’ summer transfer activity is an indicator that the club are getting things right behind the scenes.

There have been several key personnel changes at Tynecastle since they were relegated last year, with the arrival of McKinlay, manager Robbie Neilson and sporting director Joe Savage among the most prominent.

Alex Cochrane, Beni Baningime, Ben Woodburn, Cammy Devlin and Taylor Moore have all been added to Neilson’s squad this summer and McKinlay feels Hearts’ new recruitment structure is geared for success.

He said: “There have been a lot of changes over the past year. Around the same time I came in, Robbie came back to the club, then myself and Ann (Budge) brought in Joe as sporting director.

“We’ve made changes in the whole recruitment area and hopefully fans are beginning to see that with the players we’re bringing in. Our mantra during this window has been quality, not quantity.

“It’s easy to say that but I think that is now being borne out by – and I think the fans would agree – the fact we’re adding quality to the squad and not just making up the numbers.

“I work very closely with Joe and speak to him at least once a day. He’s been great for us. The guys he’s brought in as well to help with recruitment have all hit the ground running. It’s been really good.”

While Hearts have been praised for much of their progress off the park, with the redevelopment of Tynecastle and the growing momentum of the Foundation of Hearts, McKinlay acknowledges that none of it matters if the first team is not performing.

Neilson’s side sit second in the fledgling cinch Premiership table and McKinlay said: “Everyone that works in football knows that you can do a lot of great things off the pitch but if it’s not happening on the pitch then people won’t be happy.

“Everything we do here is to give ourselves the best opportunity on the pitch. We’re very pleased with the way we’ve started the season.

“I was asked a lot of questions previously about what happens if we start badly and I said ‘I don’t think we will start badly’. I was always confident we’d start well. We’ve started well and the team is really starting to take shape. It looks good.”

McKinlay has already experienced testing times in his first year as CEO, with the board coming under fire in the wake of the Scottish Cup defeat to Highland League side Brora Rangers in March. However, he has no issue with supporters venting their feelings about their club.

He said: “It can get quite feisty when things are not going well. The fans weren’t in last season but there’s no doubt there were a couple of weeks when the fans weren’t very happy.

“My job is to make sure I don’t get too high when things are going well, as they are at the moment, and also don’t get too low when things are going wrong.

“I have to keep a level head whereas the role of a fan is to be a fanatic. I’d be worried if they didn’t have the passion they have here. It would concern me more if it became an apathy. As long as they keep that passion, that’s great.”