Ian Murray MP, one of the driving forces behind Hearts’ successful exit from administration, has stepped down as chairman of the Foundation of Hearts (FoH) and relinquished his position on the Tynecastle club’s board of directors.
Murray was the public face of the fans’ group following Hearts’ financial collapse in 2013, playing a key part in membership drives, fundraising to ensure the club remained afloat and spearheading negotiations with administrators.
Ann Budge ultimately provided the immediate capital required to purchase the club last summer, but FoH – who now boast more than 8,000 paying members – remain on course to take over the club by 2019.
To that end, Murray became a director of the club last year. However, Murray retained his seat in Edinburgh South in the recent General Election and became Labour’s only MP in Scotland, leading to him being named shadow Scottish Secretary – and his workload has become unmanageable.
Last night, he spoke of his pride in the part played by FoH in the survival of the 141-year-old institution.
“Since my re-election I have taken on a number of senior responsibilities that will reduce the spare time I have available to dedicate to other interests,” he explained. “I have, after much soul-searching, taken the decision that the FoH requires a new chair and director that can give maximum attention to continuing to grow the membership and preparing the organisation for full supporter ownership.
Since my re-election I have taken on a number of senior responsibilities that will reduce the spare time I haveIan Murray
“I’m very proud to have been part of a team who helped to own the history and shape the future. Generations of future Jambos who put their hard-earned money in to save the club will look back on these times and say ‘we did that’.
“My involvement with the Foundation of Hearts has been one of the greatest pleasures and privileges of my life.”
Murray’s departure will lead to one of the remaining FoH directors – either Garry Halliday, Alastair Bruce, Donald Cumming or Barry McGonagle – replacing him as a Hearts board member in due course.
Tynecastle owner Budge, who has worked closely with Murray over the past two years, hailed the impact made by the lifelong Hearts supporter.
“I want to thank him for everything he has done for both the Foundation and the club,” she said.
“He has made a valuable contribution to the Hearts board – from which he will, of course, also be standing down at the end of June.”
Current vice-chair, Brian Cormack, will officially become FoH chairman on 30 June, and another member of the group will be elected on to the board to fill the vacancy left by Murray at the AGM later this year.
“This has been a hugely challenging time and Ian’s diplomatic, strategic and oratory skills, as well as his leadership and his passion for the club, have been absolutely superb,” added Cormack. “He has been at the front of a mass movement which has, in partnership with Ann Budge, saved this great club and laid the foundations for the future.”