THE Foundation of Hearts (FoH) has admitted that it is planning for a future which includes at least one season in the Championship.
The group, which has preferred bidder status and is in negotiations to take control of the cash-stricken club, say that it is imperative that its budgets reflect the current plight of the team and the possibility of rebuilding in the second tier next season.
While 87 per cent of creditors who voted on Friday approved a company voluntary arrangement to take Hearts out of administration, that remains dependent on parent company UBIG subsequently transferring its 50 per cent shareholding in Hearts to the foundation. The Lithuanian company is also in administration and need time to resolve matters with its own creditors. That means the club is unlikely to exit administration before March or, possibly, even April, ruling out any new signings, even free agents, and minimising the chances of escaping relegation.
“We have put all our financial plans together on the basis of being relegated and staying relegated,” said Ian Murray, chairman of FoH. “With a 15-point deduction, a very inexperienced, young side, a signing ban, we have had to look at relegation. We wouldn’t have been doing our job properly had we not. Then, given that, next season, Rangers will be in the Championship with, perhaps Dundee, Falkirk, Dunfermline, etc, it will be really competitive. And, as we are still not out the woods, and, given where the club is financially, we have put all our plans together looking at the possibility we may stay down. We have done it very much on worst case scenario and that’s why we have said that people need to continue to support us.
“We may stay up, and we are all hopeful we will and that’s what the club is working towards and, if we do, then that completely transforms where we are but we have got to look at a worst-case scenario.”
Stressing that Friday’s outcomes were as positive as anyone could hope, he warned against complacency, and acknowledged that, even if successful in acquiring control, much would have to be done to regain trust.
“There’s been redundancies, there’s been businesses who have lost out and Hearts haven’t honoured their responsibilities to the taxman. A lot of people have lost a lot of money and we have to recognise that. Although the reasons for that come down to the way the club was run by the old regime, we now have the responsibility of rebuilding Hearts as an institution in the community and that starts by stating that what went before will not happen again. We have to regain trust and the only way to do that is having the club on a sustainable financial footing and paying the bills.”