Welcome to our March 2019 Blog, a bumper issue with a great deal to update our members on.
You will find detailed coverage in this issue on our recent Foundation Day and a ‘why I pledge’ from Neil Grant who sang his recently scribed song ‘There will always be Heart of Midlothian’ in tribute to all Foundation of Hearts members. Neil gave a stunning performance of his song immediately before kick-off on Foundation Day. This was undoubtedly one of my highlights of the day, along with the incredible flag display in the Wheatfield Stand. What a stunning backdrop to the teams emerging from the tunnel, it looked spectacular from the new main stand.
Aside from Foundation Day, you will also find details about our upcoming membership club events.
Work at the Foundation continues unabated, you will see that we are now almost half way towards repaying the Bidco loan. When we reach that milestone sometime in spring/summer 2020, Foundation of Hearts will acquire the majority shareholding in Heart of Midlothian FC, on behalf of our members. Our governance proposals were approved at our December AGM, giving the club and the Foundation a structure which allows the club to get on with footballing business day to day while protecting the long term interests of our supporters. I would like to express my gratitude to all members of the governance committee, who put in such diligent work to bring us to this point.
As a board we will be doing some thinking across the next few months about the next stage of the Foundation’s journey. Many members have made clear their intention to #pledgeforlife and we hope to bring forward our thoughts later this year and engage directly with our members on the substantial part we can all play in continuing to build and strengthen our football club for future generations. This has become the biggest fan initiative in British football and we are determined to give you every opportunity to keep up that momentum.
Enjoy the blog, please give us any feedback at the email address listed at the bottom.
In what is becoming an annual event, the club hosted Foundation Day on 26 January – the match against St Johnstone.
The purpose of the day was to thank fans for their superb efforts which played such a huge role in saving our club and which remain a vital part of the club’s financial well-being. Here’s part of the script which Scott Wilson delivered on the day and which sums up the key messages: “Together we saved our club for future generations. Together we have written an outstanding chapter in this great club’s story. Together we have rebuilt our maroon world. And together we will keep this amazing initiative moving forward on behalf of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.”
The mood was upbeat and positive, and the stunning flag display in the Wheatfield Stand captured this perfectly. It truly was an emotional scene as the banks of maroon and white flags created movement and colour and delivered a powerful, unforgettable, passionate statement from Hearts supporters united in celebration of their club. It was a scene that will be long remembered.
Before kick-off, singer Neil Grant – who had travelled from Sweden for the occasion – sang his tribute song, “There Will Always be Heart of Midlothian”, and the players came together to hold a banner which read: ‘Celebrating our Maroon World. Thank you to Hearts fans here and around the globe’. A special matchday programme was produced by the club and this featured an article by Foundation chair, Stuart Wallace, as well as quotes from Foundation members around the world. Stuart and Ann Budge were interviewed on the pitch at half-time and repeated the message of thanks to Hearts supporters, a message which Craig Levein also delivered eloquently in his post-match interviews.
Foundation Day was a great success and we would like to thank everyone who made it possible, particularly the club who hosted it and the staff members there who were so helpful. Also, thank you to the hardy band of volunteers who turned up early in the morning to put flags at every seat in the Wheatfield Stand, to those who manned the pledge stations and spread the word about the Foundation, and to all Hearts fans, without whom, it needs hardly be said, this day would never have happened.
Why I Pledge – Neil Grant
We asked FoH pledger, lifelong Hearts fan and folk singer Neil Grant what the club and pledging to the Foundation means to him:
My family have been Hearts supporters through many generations, so in the year 1976 I was seamlessly born into the maroon tradition (without any protest!). It was around ’83 that my Dad took me to Tynecastle for the first time. We were in the old Second division at the time and defeated Raith Rovers 2-0 that day courtesy of goals from John Robertson and Gary Mackay. Straight from the off, I embraced the club fanatically and was fortunate enough to catch the great team of 85/86 on many occasions. How could you not develop a deep love for the club after going though such excitement and heartache!? I grew up in a highland village called Culbokie, near Inverness so I think that being one of the only Jambos in the area made me stand-up for the club that wee bit more. Nowadays, I live in Gothenburg, Sweden but never fail to miss a match on Hearts TV (I even manage to fly over to Edinburgh for a few games every season). No matter what phase my life has gone through over my 41 years, being an avid Hearts supporter is something that’s always remained constant.
The administration period of a few years ago was a very worrying time, so when Ann Budge and the Foundation came into the picture it seemed obvious to me that this was the only capable vehicle to guide us to safety. Thankfully there were about 7000 other people who felt the same way! The fact that the organisation was made up of genuine Hearts fans with no ulterior motives other than saving the club and stabilising the future only strengthened my trust. Communication has been crystal-clear to the members throughout every step of the journey and I believe that such transparency has played a huge part in its success. If any group of fans in Scotland have the right to refer to their club as “we”, then it’s us!
As a songwriter, I was so inspired by the FOH movement that I felt compelled to write a folk-song about this crucial period in our history. The heart-felt lyrics focus mainly on what the fans have done for the club rather than the achievements on the park. As I write this one-week on from releasing the track, support has been truly overwhelming and seems to have struck a real chord with many supporters. So, understandably I’m an incredibly proud Jambo at the moment and would like to thank everybody who has supported me thus far. I hope that the track will make all my fellow FoH members proud of what we’ve accomplished and will continue to achieve in the years to come. Plus, let’s not forget…. even if we are in safe waters at the moment, every single new pledger definitely helps to strengthen our hand, so let’s keep spreading the word and keep this great club booming!
If you are interested in sharing your story in a future blog, we would love to hear from you. Email us telling us what pledging to the Foundation means to you at email@example.com.
The fifth Foundation of Hearts AGM was held at 6pm in the Gorgie Suite on 19 December. More than 100 pledgers turned out to hear an update on Foundation business from Chair Stuart Wallace. The evening had a packed agenda with presentation of the Foundation annual accounts, the election of two directors to the Foundation board and a vote on the Foundation’s governance proposals.
In his address, Stuart reflected on what was another successful year for the Foundation during which a number of key milestones were achieved; the first ever Foundation Day; completion of £3m in contributions to the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project and finalisation of our governance proposals to name just a few.
Directors Louise Strutt and Garry Halliday were both re-elected to the board. To his immense credit, Brian Muir, who had also stood as a candidate, made it clear he is keen to contribute to the Foundation regardless of the outcome of the vote.
There was also a constructive discussion in the room on the Foundation’s governance blueprint and the vote concluded with 99% of pledgers voting in favour of the proposals. The Foundation board will now move forward on the mandate to put those proposals into effect, working closely with the club to ensure any legal or financial changes (e.g. changes to the articles and/or presentation of financial accounts) are in hand to reflect the change in majority ownership.
The AGM election documents can be found here.
At the time of writing the Foundation has received more than £8.4m in pledges. We’re in the process of repaying the Bidco loan with £1.2m, 44%of the required £2.5m, now having been advanced. So, we’re (almost) half way to acquiring the majority shareholding in our club. Pledges have held up extremely well over the festive season and we’re delighted with our progress. As ever, each and every pledge continues to be precious and we’re grateful for your incredible support.
Plot ceremonies and membership clubs
The next scheduled plot ceremonies will take place on the 31st March and 7th of April and we will continue to hold ceremonies approximately every 3 weeks (fixtures allowing). Every pledger who hits the required Maroon Points total will receive an invitation to this special event. Please bear with us as we work through the large number of you who have now reached this level of points.
We’re also continuing to schedule membership club evenings at Tynecastle with more invitations about to go out for two forthcoming dates.
Date for the diary
The 4th Big Hearts Day will take place at Tynecastle on Saturday 30th of March at the Hearts v Aberdeen game.
We want to make it as easy as possible for pledgers to contact us and receive a prompt response. We have three inboxes for specific purposes to help with that. Each inbox is manned by a different FoH representative, set up to respond to your queries. The details are below:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about your Maroon Points, including issues with the number of Maroon points displayed on our website.
Contact email@example.com for questions about plot ceremonies and membership clubs.
You can also continue to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for general FoH queries.
If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to email@example.com.