HEARTS OWNER Ann Budge says that she would not see Hearts failing to gain promotion to the Scottish Premiership this season as a ‘total failure’.
In a discussion about Hearts future, the businesswoman confirmed that so long as the club’s financial recovery remained on track, winning promotion was not necessarily essential.
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Hearts currently lead the Championship by nine points and have so far, gone through the season unbeaten and the owner is happy with the club’s progression since they were relegated last season. She said: “If we’ve invested in the academy, we’ve got new players coming through, we’ve sorted out all the scouting problems. If we addressed all of these things then fine, we carry on with the plan.”
“I’m actually loving it, but that’s partly because everything has gone so well. I’ve got no desire to walk out the door at any particular point in time.”
She then added that if worst came to worst and they did fail to gain promotion that they would “just have to do it next year”. She said:
“If we get to the end of the season and we miss out on promotion, I won’t consider that a complete failure, as long as we have moved ahead in all of these other areas, That’s not necessarily everybody’s idea - but would I treat it as a total failure? No I wouldn’t.”
However she was quick to point out that everyone at the club was united in the goal of seeing Hearts returned to the top teir of Scottish football. She said: “Please be in no doubt that every single person involved in the club is doing everything in their power to try to achieve promotion. It is our No. 1 objective. However, if for whatever reasons, we don’t achieve this, I will absolutely not be saying the season has been a failure. We have already put in place the necessary foundations to ensure the club returns to its rightful position in Scottish football; not least our focus on youth development and improved coaching methods. Ihave always said, there is no “quick fix” to all of Hearts’ challenges and that we must concentrate on doing things right to ensure a safe and sustainable future for our club. Am I pushing hard for promotion? Absolutely!”
Budge is the first female owner of a Scottish professional club and another major concern for her is how female fans are catered for by Scottish clubs. She said: “We haven’t moved fast enough in terms of football to recognise that more and more women are interested, do want to get involved and come to games. When I used to come to the games with my daughter, one of the biggest challenges was going to the ladies.
“I said to myself ‘why am I putting up with this?’. These things might seem small, but they are not small. You should be able to have decent facilities.”
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