Foundation of Hearts short of funds admits MacLeod

MacLeod admits Foundation still short of funds to launch credible bid for club. Picture: SNS

MacLeod admits Foundation still short of funds to launch credible bid for club. Picture: SNS

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NINE years ago fans assembled in Tynecastle’s Gorgie Suite determined that fan power would win the day.

That night chairs were thrown and tempers flared, while the then majority shareholder, Chris Robinson, required a police escort from the premises.

His home, his business and the stadium were under siege, as furious fans railed against his plans to sell off their ground.

Leading the revolt was Save Our Hearts and Iain MacLeod. Almost a decade later he was again addressing anxious fans at Tynecastle. This time though it was on behalf of Foundation of Hearts and he stressed it wasn’t just the stadium they were battling to preserve now, it was the club.

With administration a tangible threat, Foundation of Hearts are trying to mobilise the fans but the 4,000 pledges registered so far remain short of what is required to launch a credible bid for control according to MacLeod.

“It is as simple as this: The more pledgers we have, the more money we get; the more money we get, the more credible our bid is. We don’t have enough at the moment so we need the message out there for any Hearts fans that are considering joining us to do it because we are on the edge of a financial cliff.”

The Tynecastle club have incurred another transfer embargo after failing to pay their players last week, leaving the club poster boy for season tickets and the new strips, Danny Wilson, in transfer purgatory as his registration papers have not yet been lodged with the SFA. It is now unclear if the deal will be honoured. Hearts have paid off just over half of the £100,000 due to HMRC for last month’s PAYE but they are still struggling to come up with the outstanding sum and while some fans continued to bury heads in the sand, the board dispelled any doubts about the severity of the situation, issuing a statement confirming they are in dire needs of funds and revealing that every member of the playing squad was up for sale in a desperate quest to raise enough money to tide them over to the new season.

A shortfall in the number of season tickets sold was offered up as one of the reasons for the turmoil, with fans reluctant to pay money into a club they consider far from secure. Ukio Bankas, which has a 29.9 per cent shareholding in the club, lost an appeal against liquidation on Wednesday. It is due £15 million by Hearts, with another £10m due to majority shareholder UBIG which is also on the verge of insolvency.

While some consider administration an inevitability and even appear ready to embrace it, MacLeod is more cautious.

“It is out of our control. But if you look at companies which have gone into administration like Comet or Woolworths, they are no longer here. If you go into administration you are flipping a coin. Some come out of it, some get liquidated. We do not want to take that chance and, of course, there would be a 15-point deduction which would be a serious blip. I would not want to take the chance, but that is not in our control. We need to be able to react to that but our aim is to take control of the club as a going concern.”

Staving off administration will be a tough ask, however, and MacLeod admits that as things stand they may have to look at another bail-out.

“We have 4,000 pledgers, so if we asked those pledgers for a one-off donation of 25 quid, then that is £100,000. We could potentially do that, but we wanted to get through [their open meeting with fans on Friday] first without being distracted by things like that. If the club give us their [email] database then we could maybe reach 71,000 people. There is a certain suspicion regarding the regime now, so maybe people are withholding money but that is dangerous. There are things we can do with our pledgers that could help to keep Hearts as a going concern and tide them over. But that would have to be done really quickly and the fans have already rallied to the cause with the share issue in December. We we can’t keep doing it.”

Despite the shambles the club has been left in by the Vladimir Romanov regime, MacLeod is reluctant to condemn his time at the helm as an outright disaster.

“If you’d told me at the start we’d have won two Scottish Cups – beating Hibs 5-1 in the second one – I’d have stopped listening at that point and said ‘yes, thank you’. We are where we are.

“The Romanov years have been a rollercoaster. We’ve had two Scottish Cup wins and the greatest result in our history. We’ll never forget that but we now have to move on and secure the future of the football club and, just as importantly, the future of the people who work there.”

Admitting the fans had probably been slow to react to the escalating crisis, he added that it was not yet too late to salvage the situation – though he conceded it was unlikely that there would be much help from the outside, with other clubs contending that Hearts’ continued overspending has given them an unfair advantage throughout the Romanov years.

Nevertheless, he added: “I’m not too interested in other people’s opinions about our club. They’re never going to ride to our rescue. We have to put that to one side and get on with the job at hand.” NINE years ago fans assembled in Tynecastle’s Gorgie Suite determined that fan power would win the day. That night chairs were thrown and tempers flared, while the then majority shareholder, Chris Robinson, required a police escort from the premises.

His home, his business and the stadium were under siege, as furious fans railed against his plans to sell off their ground.

Leading the revolt was Save Our Hearts and Iain MacLeod. Almost a decade later he was again addressing anxious fans at Tynecastle. This time though it was on behalf of Foundation of Hearts and he stressed it wasn’t just the stadium they were battling to preserve now, it was the club.

With administration a tangible threat, Foundation of Hearts are trying to mobilise the fans but the 4,000 pledges registered so far remain short of what is required to launch a credible bid for control according to MacLeod.

“It is as simple as this: The more pledgers we have, the more money we get; the more money we get, the more credible our bid is. We don’t have enough at the moment so we need the message out there for any Hearts fans that are considering joining us to do it because we are on the edge of a financial cliff.”

The Tynecastle club have incurred another transfer embargo after failing to pay their players last week, leaving the club poster boy for season tickets and the new strips, Danny Wilson, in transfer purgatory as his registration papers have not yet been lodged with the SFA. It is now unclear if the deal will be honoured. Hearts have paid off just over half of the £100,000 due to HMRC for last month’s PAYE but they are still struggling to come up with the outstanding sum and while some fans continued to bury heads in the sand, the board dispelled any doubts about the severity of the situation, issuing a statement confirming they are in dire needs of funds and revealing that every member of the playing squad was up for sale in a desperate quest to raise enough money to tide them over to the new season.

A shortfall in the number of season tickets sold was offered up as one of the reasons for the turmoil, with fans reluctant to pay money into a club they consider far from secure. Ukio Bankas, which has a 29.9 per cent shareholding in the club, lost an appeal against liquidation on Wednesday. It is due £15 million by Hearts, with another £10m due to majority shareholder UBIG which is also on the verge of insolvency.

While some consider administration an inevitability and even appear ready to embrace it, MacLeod is more cautious.

“It is out of our control. But if you look at companies which have gone into administration like Comet or Woolworths, they are no longer here. If you go into administration you are flipping a coin. Some come out of it, some get liquidated. We do not want to take that chance and, of course, there would be a 15-point deduction which would be a serious blip. I would not want to take the chance, but that is not in our control. We need to be able to react to that but our aim is to take control of the club as a going concern.”

Staving off administration will be a tough ask, however, and MacLeod admits that as things stand they may have to look at another bail-out.

“We have 4,000 pledgers, so if we asked those pledgers for a one-off donation of 25 quid, then that is £100,000. We could potentially do that, but we wanted to get through [their open meeting with fans on Friday] first without being distracted by things like that. If the club give us their [email] database then we could maybe reach 71,000 people. There is a certain suspicion regarding the regime now, so maybe people are withholding money but that is dangerous. There are things we can do with our pledgers that could help to keep Hearts as a going concern and tide them over. But that would have to be done really quickly and the fans have already rallied to the cause with the share issue in December. We we can’t keep doing it.”

Despite the shambles the club has been left in by the Vladimir Romanov regime, MacLeod is reluctant to condemn his time at the helm as an outright disaster.

“If you’d told me at the start we’d have won two Scottish Cups – beating Hibs 5-1 in the second one – I’d have stopped listening at that point and said ‘yes, thank you’. We are where we are.

“The Romanov years have been a rollercoaster. We’ve had two Scottish Cup wins and the greatest result in our history. We’ll never forget that but we now have to move on and secure the future of the football club and, just as importantly, the future of the people who work there.”

Admitting the fans had probably been slow to react to the escalating crisis, he added that it was not yet too late to salvage the situation – though he conceded it was unlikely that there would be much help from the outside, with other clubs contending that Hearts’ continued overspending has given them an unfair advantage throughout the Romanov years.

Nevertheless, he added: “I’m not too interested in other people’s opinions about our club. They’re never going to ride to our rescue. We have to put that to one side and get on with the job at hand.”

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