Hearts: Ann Budge praise for head coach Robbie Neilson

Interview: Hearts owner Ann Budge

Hearts owner Ann Budge thinks head coach Robbie Neilson should stay on and continue the impressive work that has seen the Tynecastle club win promotion.

Having lost just one league match in Neilson's debut season, Hearts were crowned Championship winners on Sunday.

"He will be a target now," said Budge. "I'm hopeful, that's all I can say.

"Robbie is an intelligent young man and I hope he realises that staying with us a bit longer is exactly what he needs to really get his career moving."

Budge took control of the Edinburgh club last May - after Hearts were relegated from top flight - paying a £2.5m fee that allowed them to exit a year-long period of administration.

And there is a strategy in place for her to hand the club over to the fans group, Foundation of Hearts, within a three to five year period.

Hearts striker James Keatings on Robbie Neilson
"He's calm and very focused. He's a winner and he wants his team to be winners. He really believes in hard work and everyone is stronger, faster. There's not many days off!"

Speaking to BBC Scotland in November, Budge said that promotion was not a necessity but Neilson has steered the team to the title with seven games to spare.

"We've exceeded our best dreams," said the 67-year-old former IT specialist.

"When we set out we didn't really know what was in front of us and just how tough it was going to be.

"An awful lot of people have put in an awful lot of hard work, so it's fantastic to see that rewarded."

BBC Scotland's Richard Wilson on Hearts' title triumph
"There has been a strength of purpose to their work in this campaign, and no side has been able to live with their spirit and enterprise."

Neilson, who spent 10 years as a full-back with Hearts before joining Leicester in 2009, was promoted from his role as Under-20s coach when Budge appointed former manager Craig Levein as director of football.

"Everyone has seen that Robbie is a first class coach," added Budge.

"His manner, his intelligence, the way he treats the players; all of that has been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt.

"All of those qualities have helped him achieve what he has this season."

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