Foundation of Hearts chairman Ian Murray insists the club’s imminent exit from administration will merely herald the start of a challenging rebuilding job at the club.
Hearts went into administration last June after racking up debts of £28.5 million but their year-long stint in the hands of administrators BDO is expected to be signed off by the Court of Session in Edinburgh today.
The club’s exit from one of the most fraught periods in their history will trigger a collective sigh of relief from everyone associated with Hearts, but MP Murray insists it will only be the start of attempts to get the Tynecastle outfit back on a stable footing. Fans’ group the Foundation of Hearts, who will be passed the majority shareholding from new owner Ann Budge within five years, are set to hand over a total of £6.3m to the club in coming years. And with the team starting next season in the Championship, Murray has stressed that a lot of work lies ahead.
He said: “An administration process would hollow out any business. Football is no different so there is a huge rebuilding process. If it is Wednesday then that is really day one of rebuilding the club.
“It has been hollowed out by the previous owners and hollowed out by the administration process. So really, this is the start of the rebuilding rather than the end of it.
“Ann has got the three to five year plan which will rebuild the club and get the club back to a solid financial footing. The plan will make sure we live within our means and then transfer the ownership to the supporters over that period of time. There is a long way to go as of yet but let’s not go back to where we have been. Let’s make sure we can get back to the top of Scottish football within the means we are able to conduct ourselves in.”
The Foundation – backed by over 8,000 fans making monthly pledges – have already handed over £1m to the club as per the agreement with Budge. They will provide a further £1.4m of working capital in each of the next two years and will repay self-made IT millionaire Budge the £2.5m she put forward for the purchase of the club.
With Budge at the helm for the immediate future, Murray is confident Hearts are heading in the right direction. He added: “She brings business acumen, she brings leadership to the club and that hasn’t been here for some time. She brings stability and she’s brought a strong team in who also have business acumen. She brings that ability to say to the business community that this club is having a fresh start, that we are credible people and that our doors are open.
“She’s telling them to please come and talk about Hearts and please open your doors so we can chat to you about Hearts. It’s about putting Hearts right back into the centre of the local community as well as the Edinburgh community. That hasn’t happened over the past ten years and there’s been a lack of direction. There’s not been much leadership or a clear process about how to make decisions. So it’s about building the credibility of the club again.”