FOUNDATION of Hearts will submit their bid to take control of the club within the next 24 hours.
Edinburgh MP Ian Murray, the fan group’s independent chair, is to lodge what he described as a “credible, affordable and realistic” offer with administrators BDO prior to tomorrow’s 5pm deadline. Today, he urged Hearts fans to help the Foundation seize the moment and take control of their club’s future.
Legal checks on the bid were being done yesterday before it can be presented. The Foundation currently has more than 5000 cash pledges from supporters and access to investors to help with purchasing of shares in Hearts. Those investors would need to be repaid should the fan-led organisation ultimately gain control.
Other offers could arrive to rival the Foundation but, as of this morning, BDO had yet to receive any. A Scandinavian consortium remains interested in getting involved with the Foundation but, after meeting last night, do not plan to submit their own offer after having a £500,000 bid rejected last month.
The UK-based group fronted by Gordon McKie and Stephen Paterson are also in the background, willing to assist Murray and Foundation of Hearts. Club 9 Sports, the American sports management agency, are said to be preparing a bid, but have yet to submit one.
Murray today outlined the opportunity open to Hearts supporters if they back the Foundation, which plans to run the club through a membership scheme. He wants more cash pledges to help secure preferred bidder status before trying to get the club out of administration.
“This is a real chance for Hearts fans to seize the moment,” he told the Evening News. “If they just want to wait for a mysterious ‘white knight’ to come in, that’s all good and well. For every converted pledge we have, the process is an awful lot easier. Don’t wake up on Saturday morning with BDO locking the club up because there are no bids in.
“Hearts are still in the premier league. We have a small squad and we have sanctions to come but we might just have a chance of getting out of this. We have some of the best youngsters in the country and if three or four of them click we might just stave off relegation. Then the future becomes very bright.”
Murray is aware some fans remain unconvinced about the Foundation. “What I’d say to the fans who are still sceptical and haven’t pledged is: By five o’clock tomorrow, if the Foundation of Hearts bid is not in, or we can’t afford it or we decide not to do it, there might not be anybody else. Other potential bidders may or may not be there, it may be just speculation, they may or may not be able to pull their bid together.
“I’m not suggesting any of the other bidders are being inappropriate, all I’m saying is we’re being transparent. We’re going to walk through the doors of Tynecastle before tomorrow’s deadline and give them our bid. It’s the only bid that is really on the table, that is truly transparent and that the fans can truly influence.
“We can fall short of our pledges target, we can reach our target or we can smash it. Personally, I’d much prefer to smash it. If I’ve got 25,000 people paying £100 a month then it makes the process an awful lot easier than having 1000 people at £10 a month. Every single penny given to the Foundation goes back into the club.
“If the fans own the club, the membership then decides what is the future. Once the club is financially stable and any purchasing debt has been paid off, then the club will have a revenue stream to add to its current revenue stream, which tends to be quite profitable anyway. That can be ploughed back into the club.
“The key to all that is you would have to pay off all the capital you might need to purchase the club first. Then you reach a stable financial footing and go from there.”
The Scandinavian consortium released the following statement following last night’s meeting. “The Scandinavian group remain interested in Heart of Midlothian FC, but have decided not to field a separate bid for Heart of Midlothian FC by the deadline set by the joint administrators.
“As Hearts fans first and foremost, they feel it would be inappropriate at this stage to bid against fan driven takeover bids already in place. They wish all bidders best of luck and will continue to monitor the situation and remain available and interested in talking to the club in the future to see how they can contribute to a healthy and stable Heart of Midlothian FC in the long term.”