FOUNDATION of Hearts chairman Ian Murray has confirmed that joining up with Angelo Massone was never an option for the fans’ group, following the former Livingston owner’s offer to pool resources in a bid to secure preferred bidder status.
In the event FoH succeeded in this aim in any case last week, after BDO, the club’s administrators, dismissed a rival offer from Massone’s Five Stars Football Limited. The fans’ group must now agree a Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with Ukio Bankas administrators to take Hearts out of administration.
Murray explained that a tie-up with Massone – who was owner of Livingston when the club plunged into administration for a second time in 2009 – would have been impossible since they wanted to encourage supporters to make a monthly contribution to the foundation via direct debits, not put them off. The Labour MP for Edinburgh South criticised Massone for conducting his business through the pages of newspapers rather than seeking to make contact with anyone at FoH.
“There were not any discussions,” stressed Murray yesterday. “It was done through the press as we were backing up towards preferred bidder status. Nobody from their [Massone’s] organisation was in touch to have any discussions.
“The FoH board made a decision very early on that we would not have those discussions because to deliver a CVA you have to deliver all of these elements [such as fit and proper person requirements] and that is one of the elements that would have been undeliverable,” he added.
“Not just from the point of view of a fit and proper person – and let’s not get into the ins and outs of what happened at other football clubs – but the perception would have killed the Foundation’s vision of asking ordinary supporters for their hard earned cash. We have not gone chasing around people to back the FoH and give us the money. If they wanted to make overtures to have discussions they could have done so but that was not the case.
“You never buy a football club through the sports pages of a newspaper, with all due respect,” Murray added.
“That is what happened in this particular instance. We had a plan in place already and they have had no contact with us.”