LEEANN DEMPSTER has emerged as a shock candidate to take over from Ann Budge as chief executive of Hearts, according to reports.

Tynecastle chief Budge has drawn up a list of candidates to replace her as she plans to exit the Gorgie club once the country emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

The Scottish Sun report that Hibs executive Dempster is high on the list of possible replacements, with Budge holding the 49-year-old in high esteem.

Budge will be handing over control of the Tynecastle club to fan group Foundation of Hearts when she leaves following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dempster made the switch to Easter Road from Motherwell in 2014 and is understood to have impressed Budge with her work.

We told yesterday how Budge is also closing in on appointing a sporting director for Hearts.

Rangers legend David Weir has emerged as the top candidate for the position following the shock announcement of Robbie Neilson taking over as Jambos manager.

Weir is highly regarded in the maroon half of Edinburgh after being part of the famous Scottish Cup winning side of 1998.

The 50-year-old decided to hang up his playing boots in 2012, before moving into coaching with the Everton reserves.

Following that, Weir landed his first managerial position with Shieffield United before becoming Mark Warburton's assistant at Brentford, Rangers and Nottingham Forrest.

He has recently been on the books at Brighton as their loan manager, but it is understood that he is keen on a return to Scotland.