Hearts to be first Scottish club to adopt living wage

Hearts owner Ann Budge (centre) in the Easter Road stand as her team face Hibs
Ann Budge (centre) plans to eventually hand the club over to their fans

Hearts are to implement the living wage at the club, becoming the first in Scotland to make such a commitment.

The move will include staff employed on a part-time and contract basis.

At Celtic, shareholders are to vote on the matter at their annual meeting, but a similar resolution has failed to receive sufficient support in the past.

Hearts owner Ann Budge told the Edinburgh club's website: "We believe it is entirely in keeping with the values we hold dear as a club."

The living wage differs from the national minimum wage, which is set and imposed by the UK government, in that it is an hourly rate set independently, updated annually and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

At present, the living wage outside London is £7.65 an hour, while the minimum wage for over-21s is £6.50.

Hearts owner Ann Budge
"Having reviewed the salary structure across all areas of the club, we propose to implement the nationally-approved Living Wage, across all staff, including part-time and contract workers."

Semi-professional FC United of Manchester, who play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, were the first football club in Britain to work with the Living Wage Foundation, which promotes the living wage.

A spokeswoman for the foundation welcomed the interest from a club of Hearts' size and described it as "really exciting for Scotland and the UK".

Hearts' decision to adopt the living wage for their workforce was taken at the Scottish Championship leaders' October board meeting.

"Having reviewed the salary structure across all areas of the club, we propose to implement the nationally-approved living wage, across all staff, including part-time and contract workers," said Budge.

"We have taken steps to register with the Living Wage Foundation, thereby formalising our commitment.

"We believe we will be the first football club in Scotland to sign up for this."

A flare
Ann Budge says Hearts will adopt a "zero tolerance" attitude to the throwing of flares

Budge is the sole director of BIDCO 1874, a consortium that bought Hearts and took the club out of administration this summer.

She also said Hearts have begun a feasibility study into the possibility of creating a museum within Tynecastle Stadium.

Budge said, however, that the club has been focusing on improving the "match-day experience" by updating stadium facilities and hospitality offerings, as well as re-launching the club website.

Meanwhile, Budge has appealed to fans to help "stamp out" the use of flares, which she said have been set off at a number of away games.

She was also critical of those who released smoke bombs at Tynecastle during the Women's World Cup play-off match between Scotland and the Netherlands on Saturday.

Budge said: "On this occasion, these were set off in the main stand - a 100-year-old wooden structure, with over 2,000 supporters, many of them children.

"The people responsible seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that not only is this illegal, it is extremely dangerous."

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