Hearts reject offers for players as cash raised

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HEARTS have rejected offers for two first-team players, as well as rebuffing an enquiry for a third player, thanks to cash raised by supporters since the club went into administration last month.

• Hearts administrators say they do not expect further job cuts as news emerges that Hearts have rejected two bids for senior players

• “The fans can be proud of their efforts so far,” says joint administrator Trevor Birch

Only John Sutton - who rejected a pay cut before sealing a return to Motherwell - has been made redundant from the playing staff since BDO took over the running of the club.

Danny Wilson, Kevin McHattie, Ryan Stevenson, Jamie MacDonald and Jamie Hamill all agreed to reduced salaries and administrators do not expect any further job cuts on the playing side.

And they are reluctant to sanction any further departures after rejecting the advances of interested parties despite the club’s current financial plight.

Pledge

Joint administrator Trevor Birch told Hearts News: “We made a pledge at the start of this process that if the fans backed us by buying season tickets then we would endeavour not to sell any players to raise short-term cash.

“And, thanks to their incredible backing over the past fortnight, we have been able to keep the squad together for the forthcoming season despite attempts to sign our players.

“Given the small size of the squad and the registration embargo we hope that we can continue to rebuff further offers.

“The fans can be proud of their efforts so far but I have to stress that the momentum of season ticket and matchday sales has to continue to give us the best chance of saving the club and emerging from this situation as strongly as possible.”

Hearts supporters are closing in on the 3,000-mark of extra season ticket sales, which they were challenged to reach in a two-week period ending tomorrow.

Supporters also raised £30,000 at a rally on Sunday and the Foundation of Hearts group has secured direct debits from 4,000 of the 6,000 fans who pledged money towards a takeover bid.

The Foundation today launched “one final push” for pledges to be converted to cash ahead of the July 12 deadline for first offers.

Preferred bidder status

And the group’s chairman Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, believes BDO should take into account the money already ploughed into saving the club by fans when considering who to award preferred bidder status to.

He said: “The fans have been utterly phenomenal.

“They’ve not only come up with £1.7million just before Christmas last year to keep the club going; they’ve come up trumps again - 3,000 season tickets, fund-raising going on all over the country, online forums raising £30,000, fans rallies raising £35,000.

“I think it would be slightly disingenuous for the administrator to say ‘Thank you very much indeed for all that but we’re going to go down a separate route now.’”

He added: “The key thing here is that we need to put in a credible but also affordable bid to the administrator.

“We don’t want to be in a position in 18 months time to have over-reached and be back in this position.

“If we end up with 40,000 pledges, it makes the process a little bit easier. If we end with 4,000, it makes the process slightly more difficult.

“Every Hearts fan who can afford it and wants to be a part of this process needs to convert their pledge to a direct debit and give the Foundation their support.”

The Foundation of Hearts has “two clear options” to fund a takeover, which will remain confidential until after the deadline.

Interested parties

Administrators confirmed yesterday that “three or four” interested parties were still in the frame for a takeover.

Asked how confident the Foundation were of being named preferred bidders, Murray said: “We are working very hard to do that but the easiest way to secure that preferred bidder status is to have more pledges converted to direct debits.

“That unlocks more capital and unlocking more capital unlocks a better bid and unlocking a better bid means that we can use any surplus cash to reinvest in the club.

“The fans have invested time and time again, the club have gone to that well and milked that well time and time again.

“But this is the opportunity now for the fans to actually own the club and play an integral part in how decisions are made for the future.

“That’s not happened over the last period of time at this club and I think the fans deserve that.”