Hearts are ‘yardstick’ for fan ownership - Murray

Murray insists the Foundation wanted to be up front with the fans. Picture: SNS
Murray insists the Foundation wanted to be up front with the fans. Picture: SNS
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Foundation of Hearts chairman Ian Murray insists the club’s supporters can become footballing pioneers with their ground-breaking ownership plans for the club.

Hearts chairwoman-in-waiting Ann Budge (BIDCO) and the Foundation aim to take the club out of administration via an innovative business model that has not previously been seen in Britain.

Nearly eight thousand fans have signed up to a monthly direct debit scheme that will bring in an additional £1.4 million annually on top of the traditional revenue streams.

The purchase of the 79.9 per cent stake from collapsed Lithuanian companies Ukio Bankas and UBIG still has to be ratified in the Baltic state before season-ticket holder Budge, who is funding the £2.5m Company Voluntary Arrangement, and the Foundation can take over the day-to-day running of Hearts.

No date has yet been confirmed for the UBIG creditors meeting, but BIDCO’s plan is to transfer the majority shareholding over to the Foundation within five years.

Murray, a Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South, insists the football fraternity are tracking their progress off the park. He said: “It’s been a huge challenge but to get to where we are today is a tremendous achievement for everyone involved.

“To have close to 8,000 people signing up to long-term monthly direct debits is astounding for a club the size of Heart of Midlothian. We are now the yardstick for fan ownership across the country. When we look back in 20 years’ time and see what the fans did – not only for their own club – but for football, it will be pretty significant.

“It’s no exaggeration to say the football community are very interested.

“When your club comes calling, you do everything you possibly can to help and if we end up with Hearts being healthier and better for it, then it will be worth it.”

As they unveiled self-made IT millionaire Budge as their mystery backer earlier this month, the Foundation also told fans that £6m needs to be raised over a five-year period to help the club, a figure they can raise through the current contribution levels from the supporters.

After years of mistrust over former owner Vladimir Romanov’s intentions, Murray insists the Foundation wanted to be up front with the fans.

Speaking in the Hearts match-day programme, Murray added: “It was prudent to be honest with the fans and take the worst case scenario.

“We can’t go back in 18 months cap in hand. It is right to be honest with the fans as I don’t think they had much honesty in the last ten years.”