Hearts: Robbie Neilson exceeded expectations - Ann Budge

Robbie Neilson celebrated winning the title with his players at Tynecaslte
Robbie Neilson celebrated winning the title with his players at Tynecaslte

Hearts owner Ann Budge said head coach Robbie Neilson and his team had exceeded all expectations as they celebrated winning the Scottish Championship.

Neilson, appointed in summer, has led the Tynecastle club to the title with seven games to go.

And Budge is now planning for top flight football next season.

"We obviously hoped the season would go well, but this just exceeds all of our expectations," Budge told BBC Scotland.

"We've got the plans well in hand for next year. I'm happy to say now we can concentrate on plan A instead of plan B.

"Clearly we want to do as well as we can, we expect and hope we will be in the top six, and obviously as high as we can get.

"Robbie has been amazing as we all know and I would dearly love to hold on to him, and I hope that's what is going to happen."

Hearts defeated Queen of the South 2-0 in front of a packed Tynecastle in their first home game since winning the league, and Neilson joined his side on a lap of honour afterwards.

"All season they've been magnificent for me, right from pre-season," said Neilson.

He added: "We've still got six games to go. We've still got a pre-season to prepare for and next season as well. We want to use this as a springboard to go on to bigger and better things.

"The aim is to try and get ourselves secure in the league, to try and get top six.

"I've got a fantastic group of players, hopefully we can keep a hold of them. If we can do that I think we've got a chance of really pushing as hard as we can to get into that top six."