FOUNDATION of Hearts chairman Ian Murray has revealed his group has secured a “significant capital sum” to allow them to make a formal bid for the Tynecastle club next week which will be able to cope with even the worse-case financial scenario post-administration.
The supporters-led Foundation is now the clear frontrunner in the race to win control of Hearts after a rival London-based consortium, headed by former SRU chief executive Gordon McKie, admitted they cannot afford to fund a bid on their own.
While the Foundation remains willing to maintain a productive relationship with McKie’s consortium, they are now set to make a solo bid by the 12 July deadline set by administrators BDO. They have been encouraged by the number of supporters who have converted pledges into direct debits following Thursday’s appeal for a final push in their quest to have the fan ownership model given preferred bidder status. Perhaps more crucially, however, the Foundation’s offer will be underpinned by funding from as yet unnamed individuals from the business community.
Murray is now confident the Foundation is in a position to successfully run Hearts and cope with the challenges faced to restore the club to health and stability following Vladimir Romanov’s ruinous tenure.
“We now have an offer, which we have accepted, of a significant capital sum,” the Edinburgh South MP told The Scotsman. “We are ready with our bid, and we will submit it to the administrators next Thursday or Friday. The only real bid is the Foundation of Hearts bid. We’ve got the funds, and we can prove that we’ve got the funds. We’ve done some worst-case-scenario planning. The funding gap at the club is considerable, although not as big as some people have said. It can be bridged by a combination of pledges and the capital sum. The administrators have already done the job of getting the club into a leaner state. There is a small playing staff and a very small backroom staff.
“The club will move to being self-financing, but it will take at least two years. So we need to make sure that we have the money and the plans in place to make sure we can bridge it. More than 450 pledges have been converted in the last 24 hours and the total keeps on rising. But we still need as many people as we can to make a pledge. The Foundation is run on the basis of one member, one vote and if our bid for the club is successful, everyone who has pledged will have a say in how it is run.
“We can’t rule out any other bids from left field, but we can say that we are the only transparent bid. We have consistently said in public that our aim is to make a bid, and we are now in a position to do that.”
Earlier in the day, the Foundation released a statement in response to McKie’s concession that his group was unable to provide sufficient funds to proceed with a solo bid. “The Foundation of Hearts notes media comments from Gordon McKie that the consortium he is leading will only now be able to proceed with the Foundation on a joint basis,” it read. “This comes after Mr McKie’s group confirmed they do not have the capital to fund a deal, alone. His consortium have made a proposal to the Foundation of Hearts which is to be welcomed, however, this was one of two routes the Foundation is considering (as announced Thursday 4th July) in preparation for the capital investment required to secure a majority stake in Heart of Midlothian FC. At this time, the Foundation is set to choose the alternative funding option but wishes to maintain a strong, positive relationship with Mr McKie’s group, given it and his own personal expertise.”
Murray added his gratitude to McKie for being open about their position and once again urged Hearts supporters to seize the opportunity to take ownership of their club. “The board of Foundation of Hearts will consider the best option for Hearts, nothing else, ahead of next week’s deadline,” said Murray. “We welcome Gordon’s honesty that his own consortium is not in a position to go it alone and thank him for putting a proposal to us. They have been forthright and professional all through the process.
“We are very confident that the route we pick will be right for Hearts both now and in the future, given the strong options available to us.
“The response yesterday from supporters was, yet again, fantastic from the first email to drop at 8am, throughout the day’s media coverage, to the last tweet of the night. Thousands of fans want to own a part of their club, and ensure that we can shape a future as illustrious as the past. We’re hoping this final push will continue over the next few days to leave us in the strongest possible position to make our bid on behalf of the supporters. The time to create history is now.”