Hearts takeover: IT millionaire bankrolls deal

EDINBURGH businesswoman Ann Budge is poised to become the new majority shareholder of Hearts and oversee a transfer of control to fans group Foundation of Hearts (FoH), it has been confirmed.

Ann Budge will become chairwoman. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Hearts heard last week a deal had been agreed in principle to buy the 78.97 per cent shareholding owned by Ukio Bankas and UBIG. BIDCO (1874) Limited was registered with Companies House on 6 January and will be the vehicle used to pull Hearts out of administration and subsequently run the club. Budge is the company’s only director.

Budge, 65, who netted £40million in 2005 when she sold her IT company Newell & Budge to Sopra, is understood to be bankrolling that £2.5m deal.

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Upon the transfer of the shares, the Hearts season-ticket holder will become chairwoman and is expected to be joined by a small board of directors. FoH will have representation on the BIDCO board, while a legally binding contract will be signed guaranteeing the transfer of control to the fans group if it meets the necessary requirements in between three and five years.

Those requirements include FoH injecting £1m into the club as soon as BIDCO take control for working capital and plugging funding gaps, including the payment of £535,000 of football debts which must be cleared to keep their SFA licence.

Another £1.4m per year will go from the FoH coffers into the club in the first two years.

In the third year, a repayment plan and schedule will be confirmed that will see BIDCO recoup their £2.5m and ultimately hand control of the club to FoH, at which time the Tynecastle outfit will become Scotland’s biggest fan-run club. Hearts fans need to raise several millions to complete a long-term rescue.

An FoH spokesperson confirmed: “It is vital supporters understand it is likely £6m needs to be raised over a five-year period to achieve the objectives of saving the club over the long term and moving into supporter ownership.

“This period could be accelerated or extended, depending upon the level of continued support from the fans.

“While this is a large figure, it is also important to understand that the current levels of contribution are sufficient to see this through. With additional supporter backing, these objectives will be realised even more quickly.”