Ann Budge humbled by “astonishing” generosity of anonymous Hearts benefactors

Ann Budge says she is humbled by the “astonishing” generosity of the anonymous benefactors ploughing money into Hearts.

Hearts owner Ann Budge. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS

The capital club announced a £1.6 million profit in their accounts for the year ending June 2019, largely due to an injection of £3.25m from the mystery backers.

The individuals – plural, as Budge, pictured, is keen to emphasise – have now contributed a staggering £9m in the past three years.

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However, the Hearts owner has sought to quash any suggestion that the benefactors are having a say in how the cash is spent.

“It’s not just a benefactor, it’s a group of people who have supported us,” she explained. “It’s just amazing and I can’t really explain it.

“At the start [2014] they believed we were doing a really good thing by saving the club.

“It’s all about ethos and values and they’re still supporting that.

“No-one has a say in what goes on here. I chat with them and give them updates every now and then, but it’s purely a philanthropic donation.”

Budge also dismissed any fears regarding an over-reliance on their backing, insisting the club would simply have to cut its cloth accordingly if they did not have those additional funds to call upon.

“Last summer we brought players in because we had their support,” said Budge. “We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t have the money. They asked if we’d like help with the player budget, which was astonishing.”

Budge has also revealed that Hearts could complete their transition into fan ownership as early as February. The formal handover of power to supporters’ group Foundation of Hearts [FoH] was expected to happen in late Spring of 2020 but the parties are ahead of schedule.

FoH has 7500 paying members and has contributed more than £9m to the club in working capital and to the Tynecastle Development Fund, which included the construction of the new stand. The group already has one representative on the board of Hearts, Stuart Wallace, and will officially purchase a 75.1 per cent controlling stake from Budge next year when FoH repay the £2.5 million she used to buy the club from the jaws of liquidation in 2014.

“We are still well on course,” she said. “Everything could be completed even earlier than that [spring] – possibly in February or March. It will be nice to get to the position where I feel we’ve done what we set out to do, we’re in a really good place and I don’t have to worry about something going badly wrong.”