HEARTS today received a “significant” payment from sponsors Wonga.com as they took a huge step towards survival.
The digital finance company has paid next season’s sponsorship money in full ahead of schedule to administrators BDO to help the ailing Edinburgh club. Added to players agreeing wage cuts, plus extra season ticket sales and fans’ rallying, the threat surrounding Hearts’ immediate future has now reduced. Wonga’s gesture provides vital funding to help BDO keep the club alive until the new season starts in August, by which time television revenue and gate receipts will generate more cash.
Wonga were due to make a payment to Hearts next month at the start of the third year of their sponsorship agreement. That has been brought forward following the onset of administration last week, with Wonga keen to help keep Hearts alive whilst BDO look for a buyer.
David Southern, Hearts’ managing director, said today: “Wonga have shown an exceptional and unprecedented show of faith in our time of need. I cannot speak highly enough of how they have worked with us over the term and again when we have needed them most. Throughout, they have made themselves available and been straightforward and speedy to deal with.
“We are optimistic that their money added to our strong season ticket sales will go a long way to keeping the club going while we look for a suitable buyer. The investment they are making dramatically improves our immediate situation, but the speed with which they have moved should provide other corporate partners with the confidence to come forward and help alongside them.”
Darryl Bowman, Wonga.com’s marketing director, added: “We are a proud supporter of Hearts and we want to do everything we can to help during this turbulent period. We are making this payment with our eyes wide open. Naturally, there’s risk attached, but Hearts need everyone to pull together. If other commercial partners follow our lead, we are optimistic that the fans and football will get the result we all want – a sustainable and competitive Hearts.”
Trevor Birch, administrator at BDO, said: “We greatly appreciate this early payment from Wonga. They have certainly stepped up to the plate. July is a difficult month for the club in terms of cash flow. Things are tight right now and the financial support from Wonga is a real boost. This, together with the incredible reaction from the supporters, is giving us more confidence that we can get through this difficult period.”
BDO want all parties interested in buying Hearts to submit bids by July 12 and have issued a sales memorandum to everyone who has expressed an interest. It states Hearts could generate a £400,000 profit in the next year following the recent cutting of players and staff. BDO are in discussions with officials in Lithuania hoping to ensure Hearts shares held by Ukio Bankas and UBIG are included in any sale along with Tynecastle Stadium.
Hearts’ administrators were due to meet the players at Riccarton this morning as they reported back for pre-season.