June 2016

An update from the FoH in a month which saw pledgers strongly back plans to fund the redevelopment of Tynecastle and Club season ticket sales smash last year’s total surpassing 13,500. The #JourneyContinues………….

Stadium Funding Result

The vote on the stadium funding proposal closed on Wednesday 15th of May and the Board was delighted to receive such a strong backing from our membership. A total of 3,790 votes were cast with 3,747 (or 98.86%) voting in favour of the proposal. The proposed resolution is therefore passed and we are currently working with Bidco to formalise the changes proposed to the financial agreement. From June onwards, funds advanced from the FoH to the club will contribute toward the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project. The Board was very pleased that members showed such overwhelming support for the proposal which we firmly believe is in the best interests of the club and the FoH in the long term.


The club will now push forward with the development with work scheduled to start before the end of the year. When the works are completed we will have a stadium with first class facilities befitting a club of our history and stature. The stand will become the centrepiece of a revived Tynecastle for generations to come. FoH pledgers can stand proud in the knowledge that they were a key part of making it possible.

Financial update

Pledge numbers increased in May to marginally above 8,000, having dropped below that level at the start of the year. We saw the club mailshot have a marked impact on interactions with the FoH blog and website as well as 77 new members joining our ranks. We were also very grateful to Jambos Kickback who increased their pledge from £100 to £200 per month in May, contributing to an increase on overall monthly income to over £127,500. From June we will pay 95% of all pledger contributions to the club as part of the stadium funding arrangement. Whether it’s £10 or £100, your pledges make a huge difference, as was underlined by Club manager Robbie Neilson in a recent interview with the Evening News:

“The club will never overspend again. The money coming in from the fans through the Foundation of Hearts is vital to us. It is the lifeblood of the club. Everyone within Tynecastle has a responsibility to look after that money. It is the responsibility of everybody to make sure the money is well used. It is people’s hard-earned cash, at the end of the day.” – Robbie Neilson

Big Hearts Supporters’ Open Event

Our friends at Big Hearts held their first Supporters’ Open Event on Thursday 9th of June and director Donald Cumming attended as a representative of FoH. The Big Hearts team updated fans on the Supporters Movement and provided the opportunity to learn more about a range of volunteering opportunities available with Big Hearts and associated charitable organisations. Current opportunities range from cleaning up community spaces in Gorgie and Dalry to working in the St Columba’s Hospice shop. The evening was well attended and it is hoped that the opportunities featured will be filled by some of the 700+ Hearts fans (including all current FoH directors) who signed up to be Big Hearts Supporters earlier this year. If you have time to spare and want to help a great local cause, visit the Big Hearts website for details of how to be part of it.


Pledger Interview – Alan and Daniel Morrison

Young Hearts super fan Daniel Morrison has been fundraising again, after donating an incredible £650 to the Foundation of Hearts.

The 14-year-old pledged £900 last October after being paid for carrying out extra chores around the house, and dad Alan also matched that figure.

But the aspiring goalkeeper continued his crusade to raise money for his beloved club by handing over another £650. Alan – an FoH pledger – has again agreed to match that amount, while Daniel hopes to donate around another £150 in October.

Everyone involved at the FoH and the club is immensely grateful for Daniel’s staggering fundraising efforts, especially at a time when plans for the new main stand are taking shape.

Alan said: “Daniel has pledged another £650 from pocket money doing chores around the house and I have matched what he’s put in.

“He’s been doing things like carry wood as we’ve got wood burners in the house, and painting iron gates. He’s done a lot of chores.

“We’ve made sure he keeps some of the money for himself, though – his main love is his Xbox.

“Part of the reason that Daniel wanted to donate more money was because of the building of the main stand and he is planning to put another £150 in by October.

“It’s very exciting times at the club at the moment and I have total faith in Ann Budge and everything she is doing there. We know the fans’ money is going to be well spent.”

Alloa-based Daniel, who will take part in a cup final on Saturday for Wasps 2002, has been grateful for words of advice – and a pair of gloves – from Jack Hamilton after meeting the Hearts shot-stopper at an FoH virtual pitch plot ceremony.

Alan added: “Daniel met Jack at one of the plot ceremonies and Jack was absolutely fantastic with Daniel.

“I e-mailed Ann’s secretary to thank Jack for taking the time to speak to Daniel and I believe the e-mail was passed on to Jack.

“Jack even went away and got Daniel a pair of his gloves. I’ve got a lot of time for him.”

Foundation of Hearts chairman Brian Cormack said: “On behalf of the Foundation of Hearts, I would like to thank both Alan and Daniel for their incredible contributions. Daniel’s desire to raise money for the club is fantastic and hugely appreciated by everyone at both the Foundation and Hearts.

“We’re honoured to have both the support of Alan and Daniel. Their contributions are indicative of the backing given by the entire fan base as we continue the journey towards fan ownership.”


Plot ceremonies

We have been awaiting next season’s fixtures before finalising dates for the next batch of plot ceremonies. A number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation. As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. If you have reached the points total and have not yet received an invite, please do be patient and rest assured that we will be in touch.


Photographs from the ceremonies held in previous months are now available at these links: March and May.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Any questions regarding the Stadium Funding proposal should be addressed to info@foundationofhearts.org.

May 2016

In May the Foundation shared details of an offer from Bidco which, if accepted, will see the FoH play a key role in funding the redevelopment of Tynecastle. Given the importance of the matter, this month’s blog focuses primarily on the Stadium Funding proposal and includes extracts from the Chairman’s speech from the open meeting at Tynecastle on Monday 16th May.

Stadium Funding

The FoH contacted all members on the 10th of May to confirm that Bidco (Ann Budge’s holding company) has made an offer which would see the existing funding agreement amended and the FoH playing a key role in funding the new stadium redevelopment project at Tynecastle. The Directors view the proposal as being in the best interests of the Foundation and its members as a whole, and hence we recommend that members vote in favor of the proposed resolution. All members should have received an email on the 18th May (or a letter in the post shortly afterward) with details of how to vote. If you have not received your email, please first check your spam folder and then contact us at info@foundationofhearts.org.

Voting will close on Wednesday 25th of May at 12 noon. If you are still undecided or feel like you require further information, here are some quick links to ensure you are fully informed about what is being proposed:

Ann Budge’s offer to amend financial agreement
Stadium Funding FAQs
Club Update from Ann Budge

Chairman’s Speech from Open Meeting

Our thanks to all the members who attended the open meeting at Tynecastle on 16 May. It was very helpful to obtain your feedback, both on the funding proposal and on broader aspects of the Foundation’s activities. For those members not able to attend the open meeting at Tynecastle, what follows is part of the Chairman’s speech to members:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening and welcome to the meeting to discuss the potential changes to the Bidco / Foundation of Hearts funding agreement. My name is Brian Cormack and I am the Chair of the FoH. I also have with me my fellow directors of the Foundation and we will all be available to answer questions later on. With me I have Alastair Bruce, Donald Cumming, Garry Halliday, Barry McGonagle and Louise Strutt.

We plan to give you the details of the proposal from Bidco and then we can answer any questions you may have. We issued a detailed Q&A last week by e-mail but we wanted to make sure that any further questions can be asked this evening.

During last week the Club held four open meetings on the Stadium Development and the Planning Permissions where all issues were discussed, so I would like to keep the questions this evening relating to the funding agreement if possible.

The very fact that we are gathered here tonight considering the future direction of the Foundation and, of course, our club is, for me, beyond extraordinary. Just a couple of years ago, we were staring at an abyss. Heart of Midlothian Football Club, as we all know, was just hours from extinction.

It was saved by a unique and remarkable partnership between the fans of this club and Ann Budge, who stepped up at our moment of crisis to fund the buy-back of shares which ensured the survival of Hearts.

It is a partnership and a singular act by Ann whose story deserves to ring down through all future generations of Hearts supporters. It is a partnership which has, we believe, not only been the catalyst for the most successful fan involvement initiative in Scottish footballing history but also one which has provided a stable foundation for the dynamic, innovative management of the club which has been there for all to see since Ann and her team took control.

And tonight we are here not to look back but – we are very pleased to say – to look forward and discuss some of the detail of that partnership which was created at our club’s darkest hour but has gone on to be a vital cog in a machine which has restored true Hearts values, connected again with supporters and our local community, delivered on-field success, and created a whole host of off-field projects of which we can all be very proud.

We have a huge responsibility to get this right, and I know that it is a responsibility which everyone here recognises.

[The chairman then summarized the proposal to amend the existing funding agreement, and spelled out the process for conducting the members’ vote.]

…In conclusion, I’d like to say this. The directors of the Foundation welcome this offer from Ann and are recommending it to the members. We see this as potentially a fantastic use of Foundation funds for a limited period. What better way for us supporters to see our funds being employed than into the development of the new stand and other improvements at our home at Tynecastle? Yes, it means that the schedule for supporter ownership of the club is possibly put back for a period, but for this delay we are getting a magnificent new stand and, as a gesture of trust, we will have interim hand-overs of shares from Ann to the Foundation.

When the Foundation ultimately becomes the majority shareholder of the Club, we all want it to be in good shape financially and on the field in the physical environment in which we work and play. This change to the funding agreement, we believe, helps to consolidate all of these aspirations and objectives. It reinforces the strong partnership we currently have between the Foundation and the club, and it paves the way for a very bright future. We thank Ann for the offer and we recommend it to our members.

Thank you very much.

Thanking The Fans Day

The club and the Foundation combined to designate the final match at Tynecastle as Thanking the Fans Day. The day was seen as an opportunity to thank all Hearts supporters and we were delighted that the team wore the tribute jersey. Many fans responded by doing likewise. Scott Wilson also broadcast a message before the start of the match, posters around the ground welcomed fans to the day, volunteers from the Foundation and Big Hearts handed out flyers with a thank you message, an LED message was displayed though the match, and the players held up a ‘thank you’ banner before kick-off.

Ann Budge and Foundation chair Brian Cormack issued a joint statement, which included:  “This has been a momentous season – one that has been made possible by the tremendous support by you, the fans. Without you, today – and all the other days in the season – simply would not have happened. So we want to say a massive thank you to you all. You have our unreserved admiration and utmost respect as you continue to prove that Hearts fans are truly the best.”


If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Any questions regarding the Stadium Funding proposal should be addressed to info@foundationofhearts.org.

A Reminder

Just a reminder that the vote on the proposed change to the funding agreement closes at 12.00 noon tomorrow (Wednesday). If you haven’t already done so, please do vote on this important issue. Thank you.

April 2016

From administration to European football in the space of two years. April saw the Club reach another tremendous milestone thanks in no small part to the contribution you have made via the Foundation of Hearts……so make some noise…..the Gorgie boys…….are going to Europe………

European nights are back

From relegation and administration to European football in the space of two years. April saw the Club reach another tremendous milestone thanks in no small part to the contribution you have made via the Foundation of Hearts. Robbie and the boys will once again be competing with Europe’s elite. Next season, when we gather under the Tynecastle floodlights on those special European occasions, we hope you all feel a sense of belonging and pride in knowing that you were a key component of restoring the Club to such heights. What an achievement.

Commenting in Edinburgh’s Evening news our Chair Brian Cormack remarked: “Qualifying for Europe is a reward for all Hearts fans. Season ticket sales are at an all-time high, Tynecastle is sold out for every home game, hospitality is full every week,” said Cormack. “The £3.8million provided by the Foundation over the last two years helps give a really stable base for the club to build for the future. Look how far we’ve come in those two years: From Wonga to Save the Children. The memorial garden is opening this summer and the stadium is being redeveloped. The Foundation has had 8000 people pledging for more than two years but the backing from the whole Hearts community throughout that time has allowed this to happen. It’s just an amazing story.”

Lets make some noise…..the Gorgie boys…….are going to Europe………

Memorial garden interview

MemorialIn April our roving reporter Darren Johnstone held an emotional interview with FoH pledger and Hearts fan Evelyn Fleming about the Tynecastle Memorial Garden and what it means to her. This is included below in full, having also been shared on social media and on the FoH website.

Football. It has an inherent capability of evoking a whole range of differing emotions: euphoria, despair, excitement, dread, joy – to name a few.

But it also has a profound ability to stimulate feelings that transcend the four walls of a stadium.

For many fans, our beloved sport becomes the focal point when remembering and cherishing the memories of absent relatives and friends.

A fan’s enduring bond with a club, for example, is often sealed when a parent takes them to their first game as a young boy or girl.

For Hearts season ticket holder Evelyn Fleming, her attendance at Tynecastle is inspired by her late mother Beryl MacDougall.

Beryl was a devoted lifelong fan and her ashes are even buried behind the goals beside the Gorgie stand.

So when Hearts built the Forever in Our Hearts Memorial Garden, the natural thing for Evelyn to do was acquire a plaque in memory of her mum.

“I think the memorial garden is a fantastic idea, especially for people that have been cremated and maybe have nowhere to go,” said Evelyn. “Coming into a memorial garden at Tynecastle, for Jambos, it’s absolutely fabulous.

“My mum was a Jambo all her life and she’d follow them everywhere. Even in the latter years when she couldn’t really do anything about it, she would argue black was white for the Jambos. Her idol was John Robertson.

“Her ashes are also buried behind the goal, we had a wee ceremony. We’re so thankful for the club allowing us to do that, it was something mum would always have wanted.

“I got myself a season ticket this season because it’s somewhere I can come and remember mum.

“It was her passion, I thought I’d come along and I can see her every fortnight and have a wee quiet word, or sit in the garden. It’s great.

“Since mum’s passing, I’ve got Hearts in my own heart now – it just means so much to me because it means so much to her.

“The fact you’ve got a plaque, its something for everyone within the family, whether you’re a Hearts, Hibs, Rangers fan – it doesn’t matter. We all feel really strongly about it.”

The garden was jointly funded by the club and a generous bequest from a fan that was left to the Foundation of Hearts.

The centrepiece of the garden is a 3D bronze and steel sculpture of the club’s iconic crest.

Alongside the crest sits seven benches, each adorning the name of one of the seven Hearts players who lost their lives in The Great War.

Evelyn added: “You can come and remember somebody, you can just sit here and chat with other people or sit in quiet contemplation.

“Even on match days, you’re looking over, thinking, ‘come on mum, you’re here to help’ – and she always does as much as she can.

“What Hearts have done here, it’s bringing the Hearts family together and allowing them somewhere to contemplate their loved ones, it’s somewhere to remember them.

“The ceremony was very emotional and it was such a touching, lovely day. Anyone else that is thinking about it, I think they should because they’ll get a lot from it.”

Marketing update

Our ‘Never Too Late’ campaign continues to drive high levels of engagement on social media and we are grateful to all those who have helped relay the message far and wide. Below are just some of the magic moments we have shared in the last month, can you name the player and the game?


Remember_3 Remember_2 Remember_1


We reported to you in January that we were working on an email to pledgers who have left the FoH during our two-year journey. In May we will contact each of them with a personal email in the hope of reinvigorating their belief in the Foundation and its role in the future of Heart of Midlothian. Whilst we may not convince them all to return, we also hope to gain insight and feedback on why members have decided to leave the FoH which will help us frame our future member strategy. We will report back through the blog on anything we learn from the process as well as any impact it may have on pledges.

Sticking with the theme of reaching more fans through email, the Club sent a communication on behalf of the FoH in early April to over 49,000 fans registered on the Heart’s database. The email, titled “Keep in touch and look to the future” contained links allowing fans to sign up and receive our monthly blog as well as a link to the “pledge now” page on our website. We won’t know the full impact until next month but we do know at this point that over 8,000 recipients clicked the ‘sign up now’ link and over 11,000 clicked through ‘keep in touch’. The email further underlines our commitment to work as one with the Club and we sincerely hope that we have convinced more fans to join our ranks as a result.

Plot ceremonies

We are currently finalising dates for the next batch of plot ceremonies after having to suspend progress until the post-split fixtures and TV schedule were confirmed. A number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation. As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. If you have reached the points total and have not yet received an invite, please do be patient and rest assured that we will be in touch.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Better yet, why not come and see us in person at the next home game. You will find us at the Tynecastle reception on McLeod Street and we are always happy to take your questions.

March 2016

The latest news from the FoH in a month where the team wore the FoH tribute kit at Tynecastle for the first time, picking up three points and solidifying their third place position in the SPL…

A fitting tribute

In what was a momentous moment for all members of the Foundation, the Hearts first team took to the Tynecastle pitch on Saturday 5 March for the game against Partick Thistle wearing the FoH tribute kit. The jersey features the names of the 8,000 supporters who have provided vital financial backing for the club through their pledges to the Foundation. As director Garry Halliday fittingly put in in his video interview: “So many legends have played on the pitch at Tynecastle over the years. Today, all the legends are sitting in the stands.”

Foundation Chair Brian Cormack also commented: “This is a memorable day for all Foundation of Hearts pledgers and is a wonderful gesture by the players as they wear – with pride – the Foundation tribute jersey for the match. In doing so, they pay tribute to the supporters who have played such a massive role in saving the club, in providing a strong foundation which allows it to be so well managed by Ann Budge and her team, and in helping Robbie Neilson to add quality players to his squad. The entire Hearts fanbase has played an extraordinary role in enabling our club to prosper and move forward, and we acknowledge everyone’s part in this achievement.”

The team proudly wearing the FoH tribute kit before kick-off
The team proudly wearing the FoH tribute kit before kick-off

As well as our usual match day reception, representatives from the FoH also spoke to supporters in the Gorgie Suite about the Foundation’s story. A number of new pledgers joined the ranks, proving that it really is never too late to play your part in shaping the future of our football Club.

Whether your name is on the sleeve, chest, armpit or rear; each and every name on the strip is etched into Heart of Midlothian’s history forever. Every pledge makes a huge and lasting difference and we hope you shared our immense pride on this special occasion.

Financial update

Following the anticipated seasonal drop in pledgers reported in our January blog we were very pleased to see pledge numbers return to over 8,000 in March. The increase has been driven by both returning pledgers as well as new fans signing up for the first time. We think that campaigns such as “never too late” and our increased presence in the stands before the match against Motherwell have contributed to the increase and we will continue to push hard on our marketing efforts to ensure the upward trend continues. The increase means total contributions for March were a healthy £127k with an average contribution of £15.98 per member. As ever, we will not rest on our laurels and continue to push hard to increase our membership; the stronger the Foundation, the stronger the Club.

Governance meeting

In early March the FoH Board hosted another successful meeting regarding future governance with executives from HMFC. We are nearing completion of a blueprint which will form the basis of a more formalised governance framework for the FoH and its interaction with the Club at the point it becomes majority shareholder. Above all, the Club must continue to prosper for the fans and the wider community and never again be mismanaged or controlled by one individual. The blueprint will be based on the core principle that the Club should be operated by an appointed and accountable Board and executive team (much like the current structure) with the FoH forming a nurturing and watchful majority shareholder. In this way, transition to fan ownership will be seamless and without impact on the day to day operations of the Club; a point we believe is absolutely essential. More detailed information will be provided to pledgers in due course.

No mystery: Rebus actor is a proud pledger

Earlier this month FoH pledger Ken Stott, known for playing Inspector John Rebus in the TV series of the same name, spoke to us about what being part of the Foundation movement means to him. The interview, published on our website, is shared below for those who may have missed it on social media.

Even with his vast experience in front of the camera, actor and Hearts supporter Ken Stott could not have scripted a more remarkable transformation at Tynecastle.

From being gripped by fear over the genuine prospect of liquidation, to the euphoria of clinching the Championship title and being on the verge of a return to the European stage, Ken – like his Hearts peers – has experienced the roller coaster of emotions.

When the curtain came down on the previous regime, the 61-year-old Rebus actor was only too happy to help play his part in creating a new narrative. Stott was one of the thousands of fans that signed up to the Foundation of Hearts as the supporters’ group plotted a bright new era alongside main protagonist Ann Budge.

“I’m so proud of the Foundation and proud of Ann, Craig (Levein) and Robbie (Neilson) – what a fantastic situation we now find ourselves in,” said Stott.

“To see Heart of Midlothian transformed into something we always wanted it to be, a family club, a club that has warmth.

“We knew that something had to happen and we knew there were enough people that loved the club. It was getting to be pretty hairy at one point but all of a sudden we’ve moved on, and we really are the pride of Scottish football. It’s something we can all be proud of and I’m delighted to have my name on the tribute kit.”

Recalling how he fell in love with Hearts, Stott, who tries to get to games when his busy schedule allows, said: “For me, I was five years old; we were a Hearts supporting family.

“My father, David, was a Hearts supporter. He was brought up in Tollcross, in Lady Lawson Street. He said to me one day, ‘would you like to come to Tynecastle?’ I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, I thought he was talking about going to see a castle. I thought, ‘well that’s nice, I like castles’.

“I had no idea it was going to be anything like that, what an extraordinary event watching in this massive crowd. Of course, I’d never seen anything like that but I was hooked. I loved the maroon and white, I had no idea what I was looking at to be perfectly honest but it was the Hearts that I liked.”

Stott was thrilled to be in the company of Hearts majority shareholder Budge at the tail end of last season for the Championship title party last March.
He added: “I was very proud to be able to sit beside Ann. It was the first game after Hearts had won the league and we were playing Queen of the South at Tynecastle. That was a tremendous day, I sat next to her in the directors’ box and it was a very proud moment.

“I had a wee tear thinking of my father. He loved Hearts, we stood on the terracing together on many an occasion and there I was in the directors’ box sitting next to Ann Budge – what a lovely feeling that was.”

Ken Stott is #proudtopledge to the FoH
Ken Stott is #proudtopledge to the FoH

For Hearts, it’s Never Too Late

As many of you will have seen on social media and in the matchday programme, we are continuing to run a membership campaign under the heading (and the hashtag) ‘Never Too Late’. The key message is for supporters who have not yet signed up to the Foundation, highlighting that their contributions and support will make a huge difference and that it is not too late to pledge.

We’re using special moments from Hearts matches to get the message over, and club legends such as Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn, Mark Bell (late, late winner in the 1901 Cup Final), Wayne Foster, Osman Sow and Alim Ozturk have already featured. We’ve been getting a great reaction to the campaign and aim to keep it running for a while yet. There have been plenty of ‘never too late’ achievements and we’ve certainly enjoyed doing the research. Thanks for all the feedback so far.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog, please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

February 2016

During a month which saw the most exciting transfer deadline day in recent history at Tynecastle the Foundation Board have been working hard on plans to make a few new signings of our own in the form of new pledgers in 2016. More below….

The FoH message

“The Stronger the Foundation, the Stronger the Club”. A message you will often hear from the FoH board members and people associated with the Club. Throughout January this message manifested itself in a number of press articles about the financial strength and stability of the Club and its future prospects. We thought it was worth sharing a few snippets which underline the enormous value of your monthly contribution and the impact it is having at the Club:

“Because of the backing we’ve had from the fans, from the Foundation of Hearts, from Ann Budge, we’ve got finances there that we can go and do something (in the January transfer window)……it all goes back to the backing the fans are giving us.”
– Robbie Neilson

“I hope the fans keep giving us that backing and support us because that’s so important. If you want to push the other teams as well, you have to continue to get stronger and they can help us. Their support has laid the foundations for what we’ve done so far but we don’t want to stand still”
– Alim Ozturk

“I have to say many thanks to the Foundation of Hearts. They supported me a lot and they’ve done a fantastic job in helping save the club along with Ann Budge………I hope the Foundation will always be around because a big club needs a big foundation around it.”
– Paulo Sergio

“It’s amazing what the Foundation of Hearts and the supporters have done for the club”
– Rudi Skacel

Take a bow folks.

FoH supports Big Hearts

Ann Budge has often referred to the three intersecting circles in her vision for Hearts; the Football Club, the Foundation of Hearts and the club’s official community charity Big Hearts. As a Board we are fully bought into this vision. In January we were grateful to Caryn Kerr and Craig Wilson from Big Hearts who joined us at the board meeting to share their exciting plans for the next 12 months. As well as continuing to increase the reach of the successful Kinship Care and Football Memories programs the team at Big Hearts will be launching their Big Hearts Supporter Movement in February. The movement will ask fans to sign up as Big Hearts Supporters and join the growing pool of volunteers who have signed up to help make a difference in the community. As a sign of our backing, every member of the FoH board has signed up to be Big Hearts Supporters. We have also decided not to host our match day drop in desk on the 27th of February to focus instead on helping the Big Hearts team launch their Supporter Movement at Tynecastle. Please look out for volunteers around the stadium and join us in getting behind this fantastic initiative. More information is available at http://www.bighearts.org.uk/.

It’s never too late…

We launched our ‘it’s never too late’ marketing campaign last month and handed out our new flyers around the Stadium before the game against Motherwell. This included a pop up stall in the Wheatfield Stand for the very first time. The increased presence meant we were able to speak to more fans than ever before and it was great to see supporters signing up to pledge in the stands on their way to the game. As part of our aim of reaching as many fans as possible we plan to do this regularly during 2016 and would welcome the assistance of any volunteers who share our passion and can help deliver our message. Please do get in touch if you are interested.

As part of the campaign we also asked members to spread the message and share their last minute goal memories. Our social media pages have been buzzing with some brilliant suggestions for our next set of flyers and we’ve picked just a few to share. Where were you when these went in? Thanks to everyone who has submitted their favorites and watch this space to see which pictures make their way into our flyers:




Plot Ceremony

On Sunday 31st of January saw another successful plot ceremony with another 50 loyal pledgers receiving a commemorative plot on the Tynecastle pitch. A number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation. As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. The next ceremony is scheduled for Sunday 13th March at 1pm and invitations are currently being circulated. If you have reached the points total and have not yet received an invite, please do be patient and rest assured that we will be in touch.


If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

January 2016

Happy New Year! We hope that all of our members enjoyed a happy and restful end to 2015. In this, our first blog of 2016, we reflect on the year gone by and share some of our plans for the coming year.

Creating history

As well as delivering a Championship trophy, 2015 saw the Club make several announcements that made us extremely proud. The launch of the Forever in our Hearts memorial garden, the unique philanthropic shirt arrangement with Save the Children, the launch of Big Hearts Kinship Care and the announcement that we will be remaining at our beloved home, Tynecastle Stadium. These are all hugely significant markers in the Club’s rejuvenation, centred on values of community and integrity.

Our members have played a significant part in allowing the club to make such strides. This progress would not have been possible without a united and strong Foundation of Hearts. We asked you to create history. You may not realise it, but in 2015 you did.

In 2016, we must not rest on our laurels. There are challenges ahead which, with your continued support, we can face head on. The stronger the Foundation, the stronger the Club.

Our aims for 2016

At the AGM in December our Chairman, Brian Cormack, set out two key objectives for the FoH Board in 2016:

  1. To drive initiatives aimed at increasing the FoH membership; and
  2. To continue actively working with the Club on future governance.

We will report against our progress on both of these objectives in the coming year.

More details on our marketing plans are included in the section below.

In respect of governance, we are hosting another meeting on the subject with the club on the 25th of January. Representatives from HMFC will include newly appointed Head of Strategic Developments Martin Jesper whose remit includes working closely with FoH and planning the clubs future strategy for growth. Martin has very relevant recent experience having served as CEO of Darlington FC during their transition to fan ownership. We welcome his appointment and very much look forward to working with him going forward.

It’s never too late..

We launched our ‘it’s never too late’ marketing campaign this month and we hope our members will join us in spreading the message. The central idea is that it is never too late to pledge to the Foundation and play your part in securing the club’s future. We have designed a series of flyers and posters of iconic images from late Heart’s goals to underline the message; it’s never too late. Can you remember these famous goals?


January_16_2 January_16_1


Fortunately we have a multitude of memorable late goals to choose from (most of them against one team!). Why not get in touch and let us know your favourite last minute Heart’s goal and we may feature it on future designs. Wayne Foster anyone!?

As well as using these materials to get our message across we also plan to coordinate an increased presence on match days. Watch out for us in the Wheatfield stand and outside the Tynecastle reception before home games and why not bring along that friend who says he/she wants to sign up but hasn’t got round to it yet! We are moving quickly with this initiative on the back of feedback we received at the recent AGM and we are hopeful it will encourage those still on the fence to join our existing 8,000 loyal pledgers.

We are also currently in the process of identifying members who pledged to the FoH at one time but have left us along the way. Over the next month we plan to contact each of them with the hope of reinvigorating their belief in the Foundation and its role in the future of Heart of Midlothian. Whilst we may not convince them all, we also hope to gain insight and feedback on why members have decided to leave the FoH which will help us frame our future member strategy.

Financial update

Looking at previous trends, the months of December and January tend to be when our membership drops to its lowest level in the year. We attribute this, based on historical data, to the fact that Christmas is an expensive time of year for everyone and that members opt to pause their contributions during this time. It is heartening to look back at 2015 when, after a low month in January we seen a resurgence in members. This was thanks to the launch of fan rewards and also a number of members returning to the FoH.

In December we observed a similar trend as member numbers decreased to slightly below the 8,000 for the first time in 2015 (except January). Despite this, total contributions remained consistent with November at approximately £130,000. This was owing to one off contributions for pin badges as well as a small number of members who increased their pledge during the month. We are confident that our plans for the year ahead will see member numbers increase beyond the 8,000 mark again as they did in 2015 and we remain well on plan with the BIDCO agreement.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Better yet, why not come and see us in person at the next home game. You will find us at the Tynecastle reception on McLeod Street and we are always happy to take your questions.

December 2015

The Board hosted the second Foundation of Hearts Annual General Meeting at Tynecastle stadium on Thursday 3rd of December. Chairman Brian Cormack updated attendees on the Foundation’s year and this month’s blog is a transcript of his speech.

Chairman’s speech

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Foundation of Hearts. My name is Brian Cormack and I am the chair of the Foundation. For those of you who don’t know me and expected Ian Murray to be here, so did we! We thought Ian would have plenty of time on his hands after the election in May. Apparently we don’t just save football clubs, we also save Labour MPs.

During the day we need to conduct some formalities and the first one is to check that we have a quorum for the AGM. The quorum as per our articles has to be 51 members…that’s 5-1. I can clearly see that we have sufficient numbers so, I can officially declare the AGM open.

Ian Murray
Before I introduce my fellow Directors, I would like to thank Ian Murray for his service to the Foundation of Hearts. Ian stepped down as chair of the FoH and as a Director of the club due to his commitments in Parliament in June this year. Ian joined the FoH in 2013 at a particularly difficult time for the club just before administration. He helped bring the fans’ groups together under the FoH banner and guided the FoH through the period of the club administration. He was a very good speaker, a public face for the FoH and was always very professional. We wish him all the best in the future.

Thank Directors
I would like to thank the Directors of the Foundation for the tremendous amount of work they put in throughout the year. It is all done in their own time and for the love of the club.

Donald Cumming
Donald is a lawyer with CMS in Edinburgh. Donald led the FOH legal team as part of our bid to take the club out of administration with Bidco and Ann Budge. Donald joined the Board in October last year.

Garry Halliday
Garry was one of the founding members of FOH back in 2010. Garry is actively involved in all the marketing and is responsible for most of the fan reward ideas and Pitch Plot ceremonies, which some of you may already have enjoyed.

Alastair Bruce
Alastair has been part of FoH since nearly its inception. Alastair is our marketing expert who maintains the website and all of our social media activities.

Barry McGonagle
Barry is an accountant. He joined the board last year at the first AGM and was the first member to be elected from the wider membership. Barry has been an excellent find and he now presents all the financial information to the board on a monthly basis.

Marcia Campbell
I would also like to thank Marcia Campbell who has been a special advisor to the board for two years now. Marcia cannot attend today due to other business commitments.

Darren Johnstone
And finally to Darren Johnstone, a journalist, who has been helping us a lot with media and marketing issues.

FOH Report
As Chair of the Foundation of Hearts, I will give you the Annual Report. I have been involved in the FoH since 2010 and was one of the founding Directors. It is quite incredible how far we have come. The way everyone has worked together over this period has been exceptional. The backing from fans to buy season tickets, sell out home games, take monthly contributions to the FoH to an all-time high is the reason Ann felt confident to invest in the club in 2014. We must continue though as we are only one and a half years in to our five year plan. The support and trust you have shown to the Foundation has been fantastic and from the Board – I sincerely thank you for that.

Last year Ian said it had been a long tough 12 months for the club to come through administration off the park and to endure relegation from the top division and start in the championship. This year, by contrast, has flown by!!
One year ago, nearly to the day, we beat Rangers 2-0 here at Tynecastle, 14 games into our 20 game unbeaten run. The club went onto romp the league by 21 points from our nearest rivals to secure promotion back to the premiership where we belong. This season has continued in the same positive way with season tickets sales up on last year, home game sell outs and sitting 3rd in the league.

The Foundation has also had a positive year. Membership reached just over 8100 during the financial year. The average monthly pledge amount is also up from £15.50 to over £16.00. We have complied with the legal agreement with Bidco, have paid £2.4M to May 2015 and are on course to pay another £1.4M by May 2016. We have passed over 96% of all donations received which is also a stipulation of the agreement.

We said last year at the AGM that the issues we would be dealing with were member engagement, The Fan Reward scheme and working with the Club on the model for the transition to fans ownership. On the member engagement, we have progressed with quite a few initiatives. We send out a monthly newsletter detailing exactly what is going on with financial information, levels of pledge amounts and other issues we are working on to keep everyone informed. This was one of Barry’s commitments to the members when he became a director last year and it has been very well received. Thanks to the Club, we have also set up a stall at the reception area which is open before every home game. The directors are available to answer any questions, sign up new pledgers and generally be accessible to you – the members. I think this is one of the most important aspects of fan engagement, making the fans and the community feel that they are an integral, if not, the most important part of the club.

We are also engaging with members on social media in a positive way. We are very close to the club and to Big Hearts so we are constantly forging a stronger link as a community club. A Facebook post recently by the Foundation about the tribute kit had over 70,000 likes and over 2,000 comments from all over the world. Comments such as “this is how fans SHOULD be treated by their club”.

On a communication basis by email, we try to respond within a few hours to any requests/questions to our info@foundation email address. Again by making the effort to be accessible there have been some amazing stories. One gentlemen emailed in to say he was reducing his £20 to £10 and his wife would continue the payment as he didn’t have much time left on this earth. He sadly passed away the week after sending the email and I have since met his two sons, who are carrying on the Hearts tradition. We also had 13 year old Daniel Morrison who emailed in to say he would like to make a top up payment, Daniel had done some extra chores around the house and saved up £900 and wanted to donate it to the FoH. This is the young team that we want to be talking about as future Hearts fans.

Another couple of fan engagement initiatives that are ongoing are the FoH pin badges and the overseas ambassadors. We launched the Pin Badges a few months ago and the generosity shown by the fans has again been incredible. We have raised over £3,000 from the badges and a limited amount are still available. The overseas ambassador role is still evolving but we have around 25 members from around the world who have come forward to be part of this. We plan to get this information out in the coming months.

Last year, a lifelong Hearts supporter passed away at the age of 93. He had not been able to attend matches at Tynecastle for a number of years, but his affection for the club was undiminished. In his will, he directed his executors to give part of his estate to a body which promotes the aims and objectives of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

The executors gave careful consideration as to how they should implement these instructions, and they decided that payment should be made to the Foundation. The Foundation received a cheque for over £108,000 from the executors.
This bequest meant so much to us and the Club, and we can only express our deepest appreciation for the kindness and generosity of our benefactor. His gift reminds us yet again of how, in a quiet, unsung way, so many people are giving a helping hand to the club they hold dear. We had discussions with the Club and decided that assisting with the funding of the memorial garden at Tynecastle was a fitting way of putting the legacy to use.

Fan Rewards
We launched the Fans Rewards scheme back in January this year. The purpose of the reward scheme was to give acknowledgement to fans who were donating to the FoH and encourage members to continue to be involved for the full period of the agreement.

We tied the Fan Rewards to our 5 year plan where if you pledge £10 a month over that period you will receive a souvenir plot on the Tynecastle pitch behind you. Many members have already reached that total by pledging more each month and we have had 4 pitch plot ceremonies to date. We invite around 50 members plus guests to each ceremony and you receive your certificate from a player, the manager or even Ann herself. You have time to wander on to the pitch, get photographs taken on your plot and enjoy the experience. It is a joy to see all the members receiving this acknowledgement from the FoH and the Club. The feedback we have received has been excellent and every member will receive their plot certificate once the points total has been reached.

Our analysis to date shows in 2015 the cost to the Foundation of running the Fan Reward Scheme was 55p per member and we estimate that it has raised approximately £7.40 per member in increased contributions; which is over 1200% return on investment.

Throughout the period there are also other acknowledgements, notably the FoH Tribute shirt. This was launched officially 2 weeks ago and worn by the team against Motherwell last week. This has really grasped the imagination of everyone. The initial sales have been fantastic with the original order of 4000 shirts being close to sold out and a new order has been already been placed. It has been such a success and a great honour to think that the Hearts players ran out with 8,000 fans names of members who helped save the club. The Tribute Shirt came from an idea from a past FoH director Dougie Masterton and our marketing team worked with the Club to take this through to completion. The Club fully supported the initiative, especially at a time when the kit manufacturer was changing and is an example of our close working relationship.

Governance Update
In the final section of my report, I’d like to update you on the work we have been carrying out on future governance arrangements.

During this year, a working group, set up by the board and assisted by Professor Andy Adams of Heriot-Watt University, and with representation from the Club, has been examining different governance options. At this stage, this is clearly work in progress, but I’ll briefly describe some of the areas we have been looking at.

Appropriate governance arrangements need to be in place at both the Foundation level and at the Club level. At Foundation level, we believe our current constitution gives us a solid starting-point for our long-term arrangements. It already incorporates best practice from a wide array of resources, and we do not anticipate carrying out a fundamental redesign of it. But we are exploring a number of specific long-term design issues. For example, we are looking at whether we might introduce a membership forum or council to act as a consultative body to engage with the Foundation board.

We believe it is important that the Foundation board should have an appropriate mix of specific competencies, so we are examining whether a nominations committee should be established to evaluate the skills and experience of applicants for board membership. Another topic we are looking at is, what form the long-term fan funding though the Foundation might take. Work on these matters is continuing, and no final conclusions have been reached yet.
In relation to governance arrangements at Club level, it is clearly a matter for the Club to ensure proper governance is in place. At present, the Club is managed and run by an executive team, accountable to the Club board. The supporters’ interests are represented by the two FOH Board Members who sit on the Club Board. Those representatives are there to provide a blend of support and challenge and to contribute at the highest level to the strategic development of the Club.

In looking to the future, we are having an ongoing dialogue with, and listening closely to, Ann and her management team. We very much welcome the Club’s appointment of Martin Jesper as head of strategic developments. The Club has made this appointment specifically to ensure that senior resource is available to assist FoH and to provide a direct conduit into the Club at a senior level on a day-to-day basis. We very much look forward to working with Martin over the coming months.

I would sum up by saying that, at Foundation level, we want to encourage effective engagement and participation across the whole membership of the Foundation, by creating governance arrangements which are practical, simple and clear, and command the confidence of our members. At Club level, governance arrangements must respect the role and responsibilities of the management team, help to maintain long-term financial viability and provide a platform for constant and sustainable football success.

I know not every member has a deep interest in studying organisational structures, but designing our future governance arrangements is important. If we get it right, we’ll go a long way to ensuring that the Club can never again be controlled by any one individual.

The Coming Year
So during the coming year we will continue with increased fan engagement and the rewards scheme. We have two main issues to focus on, maintain and increase the membership so that we fulfil the agreement and work on the governance model. We have done fantastically well over the past 18 months but we still have 3 and a half years to go to complete the 5 year plan. It is a challenge to continue to meet the targets set out in the agreement but if we work together this can be achieved.

What do we want as Hearts fans at the end of the 5 year period and beyond? A Club that is never again put in danger of going out of business. A Club that is managed to the highest standards with financial stability and sustainability at the core. A Club that is playing at the top of the Scottish game and challenging for trophies. A Club that invests in youth and is at the heart of the community.
I believe that is the goal and if we continue supporting the club as we have, how far can we go? Could it be that the club continues to receive additional revenue through the FoH from the fan base for life? That is a decision to be made as we move forward.

It has been a fantastic year for the Foundation, the loyalty and support of the fans has been incredible and everyone in the room should feel very proud.
Brian then proceeded to introduce Ann Budge who presented on behalf of the Club. He then laid the annual accounts before the meeting for member’s questions.

Two questions were raised on the day and one subsequently. These, together with the Foundation’s response, are listed below:

1. It was suggested that the FoH could be doing more in terms of marketing, specifically having more of a presence on match days across the stadium. We have considered this previously and welcome the suggestion. We are looking into the possibility of having volunteers around the stadium on match day rather than only using the match day stall.

2. It was suggested that the FoH should consider allowing pledgers to increase their pledge by small 10% increments. We are in discussions with GoCardless to explore the possibility of adding a simple button to the website and are currently working though the technological steps required to bring this to fruition.

3. I was queried whether we should be pushing to accelerate purchase of the shares from Ann. The FoH Board has always been clear in its view that acquiring a controlling interest in the Club is a five year process. This is central to our agreement with BIDCO. The timeframe allows Ann and her executive team to rebuild the Club back to the institution we all want it to be. It also affords the Club and the FoH sufficient time to forge an ever closer working relationship such that when the five years come to an end the transition of ownership is seamless and the Club can continue to flourish. We are therefore of a view that we should stick to our five year plan and that any steps to alter this timeframe would not be in the best interests of the Club or the Foundation.

New Director
We now move on to the final formal part of the AGM.

Over the past few weeks the members have been voting to elect a new Director to the FoH Board. We ensured the independence, management and efficiency of the whole election process – and it’s reporting – by commissioning the Electoral Reform Services to run this professionally on our behalf. We have had 4 nominations and all were of a very high calibre. Thank you to Andrew Burton, Scott Culbertson, Keith Sorbie and Louise Strutt for putting themselves forward and conducting a well fought election. All candidates have been canvassing through the ERS website, social media and fan forums. The vote closed at 12 noon on Monday 30 November.

There were 8037 members eligible to vote and we had 1210 votes cast.
The new director received 46.5% of the votes cast
I would like to welcome the new Director up to the stage to have a brief interview with our host Willie Hunter
Ladies and Gentleman, the new elected director of the Foundation of Hearts is Louise Strutt.
Thank you very much and we are looking forward to working with Louise over the next few years.
That is the formal part of the AGM complete.

Brian concluded by thanking the following people:
• Thank you to Ann Budge for her contribution.
• Thanks to the staff today in the Gorgie Suite.
• Thank you to Willie Hunter for hosting today.
• Thank you to the pupils of Tynecastle High for enrolling everyone.
• Thanks to Steven Campbell of Scott Moncrieff.
• Thank you to all the members for coming along today and see you all next year.

We hope you enjoyed reading our December blog and welcome any comments.

On behalf of all the Directors have a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year!

November 2015

In a month where the Jambos went from strength to strength on the pitch, moving up to 2nd place in the SPL table, FoH has been busy preparing for our second AGM. In this month’s blog we confirm AGM arrangements, provide news of our fan ownership away day and also share notes from our Governance committee on the “50+1” German ownership model.

AGM and election arrangements

Members should now have received confirmation of the arrangements for the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting to be held at 2pm on Thursday 3rd December. Documents included in the recent correspondence include notice of the AGM, proxy form attendance card as well as the signed annual accounts for the year ending 30 June 2015. These documents are now available for member’s inspection at this link: http://www.foundationofhearts.org/elections/. The accounts show that during that period the Foundation provided £1,472,000 of working capital funding to Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

While the formal business of the meeting is to consider the Company’s financial accounts for the year ended 30 June 2015 (together with the Directors’ Report) we will also report on the Foundation’s activities in 2015 as well as announce the result of the ballot to elect our new Director. Four members have stepped forward commencing what will be the Foundation’s first competitive election process. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Andrew Burton
  • Scott Culbertson
  • Keith Sorbie
  • Louise Strutt

We are grateful to each of them for stepping forward. You can find out more about them and their vision for the future at the link below. Please take time to consider their election addresses, ask any questions you may have and cast your vote. This is a significant landmark our journey toward fan ownership and every vote will count.


Financial update

Contributions to the Foundation increased in October despite member numbers remaining broadly consistent with the previous month. This was thanks in part to an immensely generous £1,800 top up payment from father and son, Alan and Daniel Morrison. Daniel, a 13 year-old fan, saved up an incredible £900 of pocket money by doing extra chores with Dad Alan agreeing to match the amount he raised. It was wonderful to hear Alan and Daniel speak about what the Club means to them and their family and was yet another reminder of the importance of ensuring the longevity of our beloved Club for generations to come. Thank you to all who are part of making that happen.

Fan Ownership Away Day

Hearts travel to Fir Park on 28th November to play Motherwell and we have teamed up with the Well Society to mark this occasion as a celebration of fan ownership. The FoH Board will be in attendance and we will be on hand to answer your questions and sign up new pledgers at our first ever match day stall in the away end. Earlier this month we offered members the chance to nominate match day mascots and were delighted to receive over 200 responses. The 15 lucky winners were randomly selected and announced on our Facebook page last week. We hope they have a fantastic day out.

As well as having Foundation and Well Society mascots there will also be a half time penalty shootout and a few other surprises. The Club also announced last week that the team will be wearing the new FoH tribute kit at Fir Park. For the first time in their history, Heart of Midlothian Football Club will take to the pitch for a League match with the names of thousands of supporters who saved the Club on their strip. It promises to be a great occasion and we hope to see you there. Further announcements will be made in due course so please stay tuned to our social media channels…….

50+1: The German Model

This section of the blog looks in more detail at the fan ownership structure adopted by many clubs in Germany known as the “50+1” model. The information provided is a factual summary and is not in any way an avocation of the 50+1 model nor a suggestion that we intend to adopt this model or any element thereof. The intention is purely to share our ongoing research with members for consideration and comment.

Until 2000 Bundesliga regulation required that all participating teams operated as not for profit member associations. The rule was predicated on the principal that clubs play a crucial part in their local communities and on the belief that such a model of governance promotes economic stability and long termism in decision making, thus preserving the integrity of the league competition.

The league’s governing body (The German Football Association) came under increasing pressure to change its model as other European leagues appeared to thrive under much less restrictive rules. The Association finally relented in 2000 when a new system was introduced allowing clubs to choose from three potential governance structures: membership body, public company or private company. Whilst this may have appeared a dramatic change in direction for German football the governing body retained much of the spirit of the previous rules by mandating that where one of the new models were adopted by a club, 51% or more of the voting shares must still be retained by a membership body. It should be noted that two exceptions were made in the case of VW Wolfsburg and Bayer Laverkusen owing to the fact that two German behemoths (Volkswagen and Bayer respectively) had substantially funded the clubs for more than 20 years preceding the change in rules. Both entities were allowed to hold a controlling stake in the clubs they had traditionally funded.

Under the 50+1 model various different governance structures have emerged. One of the most common arrangements is a structure under which the club is operated by an Executive Board with the interests of the membership body represented by a Supervisory Board of 6-12 individuals. The Executive Board is fully responsible for the day to day operations and running of the club with a constitution determining how it interacts with the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board will typically have the remit of hiring (and firing) the Chief Executive and may also have certain matters reserved for their approval. The Supervisory Board typically contains at least 1 individual elected from the membership association and will have an overarching goal of acting in best interests of the membership and the club at all times.

Since the change in rules the Bundesliga has continued to operate as one of the most successful leagues in the world and is sometimes held up a shining example of how financial stability is achievable within modern football. FC Bayern, for example, are the 3rd richest football club in the world by revenue according to Deloitte (Deloitte Football Money League 2015) and have maintained profitability despite high running costs. They also do not appear to be an exception; in the 2013/14 season two thirds of German football clubs reported a profit. Whilst there is evidence to suggest this is partly as a result of the 50+1 principal it should be noted that German clubs undeniably benefit from operating within the largest economy in Europe. Corporate sponsorship levels in particular are significantly higher than most European comparators (292m euros or 60% of FC Bayern’s 2014 revenue came from corporate sponsorship, compared to 232m at Real Madrid or 226m at Manchester United; the two richest clubs in the world). That said, the 50+1 model is undeniably an illustration of how a form of fan ownership is currently operating and breeding success at the highest level in football.

A reminder if you have not yet seen our ‘Keeping the Hearts Beating’ video mentioned in previous blogs this can now be viewed here. The video tells the story of how the fans of HMFC saved the Club and we hope all members view it with pride.

We hope you enjoyed reading our November blog and welcome any comments.

October 2015

In a month in which the wee Jambos lifted the East of Scotland shield the FoH Board have been working hard on your behalf. In this month’s member blog we provide an update on the AGM, FoH finances and also take a look at how a version of fan ownership currently operates at FC Barcelona.

AGM confirmed

Members should have now received confirmation that the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting will take place at 2pm on Thursday 3rd December at Tynecastle Stadium. All formal papers will be sent to members at least 14 days in advance. Among other things, the confirmation of our AGM date also begins the election process for the next FoH member to join the Board following Ian Murray’s departure in the summer. The nomination period is now closed (further details and the process are available here)and we looking forward to a successful and exciting election process. We will update members on this very soon.

Tribute strip

Last month we launched the first ever Heart of Midlothian fan tribute strip in association with the Club. Almost 2,000 strips have already been pre-ordered and both the Club and the Foundation have been absolutely delighted with the response it has received. Here are just a few of the comments received on the FoH Facebook page in the last month:

“What an honor to have our name beside club legends! Well done every pledger. We kept the heart beating” – Ross Warner

“Another amazing idea and gesture from the best run club in the world!! Proud to be a Jambo” – John Crossan

“I love this!! What an amazing piece of memorabilia to show your grandkids one day.” – Lorraine Wiseman

The shirts will be in-store from 15th November 2015 and can be pre-ordered online at www.heartsdirect.co.uk or in person at the Hearts Club Store on McLeod Street.

Plot Ceremony

On Sunday 11th October we hosted another successful member plot ceremony at Tynecastle Stadium. The event was attended by members of the Hearts squad and Ann Budge as well an excited group of FoH pledgers. Over 300 plot certificates have now been issued to members and we will be sending out 150 invites per month going forward, with ceremonies arranged based on acceptances. As mentioned in last month’s blog, if you have reached the 1,000 point level you can expect to hear from us soon but please do be patient. Members will be invited in the order in which they hit the required level of points.


FoH October Plot Ceremony

Financial update

Contributions continued at a level consistent with previous months in September, with a few one off payments (including pin badge donations) increasing average donation per member to over £16.20. With member numbers continuing to hold above 8,000 this means we remain well on track to deliver the BIDCO agreement on time and in line with plan. The Board will continue to look at initiatives aimed at growing the membership in the coming months. You can also play your part in the push for pledges by encouraging fellow supporters to join our movement and become part of creating history.

Match day stall

We’ve been in our usual location at the Tynecastle reception this month at the Aberdeen and Kilmarnock games. More fans than ever before have popped in to pledge, pick up a pin badge or just simply to chat directly about anything Foundation or Hearts FC related. It is never a chore to field your questions and we’ve also received useful suggestions and feedback. Last month one fan insisted on paying £70 for one pin badge, re-emphasising how much he loved his club and point blank refusing to take any change. An amazing gesture. We will never take such trust and commitment for granted.

Total donations from pin badges at our stall has now exceeded £2.5k. Thanks to all who have bought one so far. A limited number still remain and will be available before the Ross Country game.

FC Barcelona: A fan ownership case study

We mentioned in our August blog that a key task for the Foundation’s Governance committee is to research successful fan ownership models. FC Barcelona is widely regarded in the football world as the poster-child for the fan ownership/non-profit governance model. Its affairs have been in the spotlight recently, with the election in July of a new club president. This section of the blog looks in more detail at the club’s structure. The information provided is a factual summary and is not in any way an avocation of the model adopted by FC Barcelona or a suggestion that we intend to adopt this model or any element thereof. We will include a look at models operated by other clubs in future blogs in order that members can share in and comment on our ongoing research.

Like Hearts FC and the Foundation, FC Barcelona is a legal entity, separate and distinct from its members. It has over 175,000 registered members (socios), including around 24,000 who live outside Catalonia. The annual adult membership fee is currently €177. This entitles the member to benefits such as a free tour of the stadium, discounts in the club shop, a copy of the club’s bi-monthly newsletter and eligibility for season tickets (which are historically cheaper than in the UK). All profits and surpluses stay within the club.

With such a large membership, the club’s constitution does not provide for annual and other general meetings of members. Instead, there is a members’ representative body called the “general assembly”. This is made up of approximately 3,000 members. Most of these are drawn at random from the full membership, but a small number of places are also reserved for veteran members and members chosen by the board of directors of the club. The term of office as a member of the general assembly is two years.

General assemblies meet annually and are able to vote on a range of issues. These include (i) approval of the annual accounts, (ii) approval of the annual expenditure budget, (iii) setting the membership fee, (iv) proposals to incur significant borrowing commitments or enter into certain material transactions, (v) changes to the constitution, and (vi) first team shirt sponsorship.

The main democratic right of the full membership is to elect the club president and board of directors. The board is made up of a minimum of 14, and a maximum of 21, directors. A system of block nominations is used, whereby each of the candidates standing for election as president must put forward their own list of board candidates, who automatically join the board if their candidate is successful. Under Spanish law, the directors may have to provide a bank guarantee against financial mismanagement. This makes it potentially difficult for rank-and-file members to stand as candidates. Voting to elect the president and board is by secret ballot, with members of the club voting in person at a designated polling station.

Directors (including the president) have a six-year term of office, and the maximum continuous term is 12 years. At any time, 5% or more of the club members, or 50% of the assembly delegates, may call for a vote of no confidence against all or some of the board members. To be effective, the vote of no confidence must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast. If the vote is passed, the censured directors must stand down.

Presidential elections at FC Barcelona are very high-profile affairs. Candidates participate in televised debates and woo supporters with big promises to sign superstar players. In the recent 2015 presidential election, voting took place at Camp Nou, and, on election day, the club went to great lengths to create a party-like atmosphere at the stadium for members, friends and family. Over 47,000 members voted, and flashbulbs popped as players, ex-players and famous fans posed in front of the ballot boxes. The winning candidate, Josep Maria Bartomeu, stood for election on a platform which included plans for a stadium redevelopment which would increase capacity to 105,000.

It has to be said that, as a model of fan democracy, the FC Barcelona structure is not without flaws. The main shortcoming is an over-concentration of power in the president. Although the president is democratically elected, there is insufficient transparency and accountability to members once he or she is in office. The general assembly of members has no formal influence over many areas of club policy, and, at board level, there is no independent oversight of the president’s activities, as the other directors are beholden to him for their seats on the board. Consequently, most recent presidents have tended to exercise a high level of personal control over the club’s management.

Nevertheless, the model is largely effective in practice. Members do exercise real influence. The club’s affairs are widely debated and candidly discussed, and members are not slow to make their dissatisfaction with a president known. The model consistently delivers a successful football team on the field, and it has enabled the club to develop into the fourth largest football club in the world.

As ever, all feedback and comments on this month’s blog are welcomed. Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

A reminder if you have not yet seen our ‘Keeping the Hearts Beating’ video mentioned in previous blogs this can now be viewed here. The video tells the story of how the fans of HMFC saved the Club and we hope all members view it with pride.

September 2015


Welcome to the September edition of the FoH blog with news on what has been another extremely busy and productive month.

Foundation of Hearts tribute kit

Last week the Foundation, in association with the Club, was delighted to announce the launch of the new Hearts third kit featuring the names of some 8,000 pledgers. Those that reached the required FoH fan reward threshold in February now have their name displayed on the unique top.

jamiewalkerheartsstrip_6 Jamie Walker with the Foundation of Hearts tribute Kit

A delighted FoH chairman Brian Cormack made the following statement on launch day: “This is an immensely proud and emotional moment for everyone associated with the Foundation of Hearts, and we are absolutely delighted to see this project come to fruition. The shirt does not just feature a list of fans’ names; it pays fitting tribute to the 8000 and more supporters who have together saved this great club. Their extraordinary achievement – and the legacy that they are passing on – is to have kept the Hearts beating, and the jersey is a very appropriate way to mark their accomplishment.

“We would like to make special mention of Dougie Masterton, a former director of the Foundation, whose idea this was. Above all, we’d like to thank the club for turning this idea into reality and for making this the official third strip for the team. Players and fans can now wear this very special jersey with real pride.”

The kit and the story behind it has already captured the imagination of thousands of football fans across the world after being featured in a story in The Sport Bible which received over 70,000 likes and 1,900 comments on Facebook in the space of a week.

The shirts will be in-store from 15 November 2015 and can be ordered online at www.heartsdirect.co.uk or in person at the Hearts Club Store on McLeod Street. You can also now view the shirt in all its glory at the Club Store if you want to join the hundreds of pledgers who have already found their name. Please share your thoughts and pictures and don’t forget to use the twitter #FoundMyName.

Plot ceremony

The Foundation hosted the second commemorative pitch plot ceremony at Tynecastle on Sunday 23rd of August. A further 40 committed supporters were awarded their own unique virtual plot of the Tynecastle pitch, including a certificate of ownership, after being among the first pledgers to reach the 1,000 points milestone as part of the Foundation’s Fan Rewards scheme. Attendees had the special privilege of seeing the premier of the Foundation’s new “Keeping the Hearts Beating” video as well as getting the opportunity to meet with players and club officials.

The feedback received has been extremely positive so far and we will be hosting further ceremonies in the coming months. If you have reached the 1,000 point level you can expect to hear from us soon but please do be patient. Members will be invited in the order in which they hit the required points and in the event that the proposed date is not suitable you will be invited to the next ceremony. Please note that if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. We very much look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to Tynecastle in the coming months to say thank you for your unstinting support.

Keeping the Hearts Beating

We are delighted to have launched our new video, “Keeping the Hearts Beating”, at the most recent plotholders’ award ceremony. The video was created and produced by a small team, all of whom donated their time and expertise to put this together. FoH would like to thank Nick Alexander, John Ferguson, Prentice Robertson and Darren Johnstone for their efforts in creating the video as well as all those who agreed to be interviewed. We hope you enjoy it and that it might inspire people to support the Foundation and continue to create history on behalf of our Club. The video has been viewed over 7,500 times in the space of two weeks and we hope members and fans alike will continue to watch, comment and share. It can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fYnmx5rPy0

FoH director election

Members will likely be aware of the current vacancy on the Foundation Board in light of Ian Murray’s decision to step down over the summer. The Foundation will be holding an election for the position at our next AGM (date to be confirmed). Any member aged 16 or over, with the support of 25 other current FoH members, will be entitled to stand for the position and the Board has opted on this occasion not to require that the role be filled by an individual with any specific skillset or level of experience. We would encourage any member who believes he or she has the capabilities to be an effective and engaged board member, to consider standing for election. Among other things, the election process presents an opportunity to address gender diversity on the Board and we would therefore particularly encourage our female members to consider standing for the position.

It is our expectation at this stage that the process will operate as follows:

Step 1: FoH issue nomination forms and instructions to all members
Step 2: Submission of nomination forms by those wishing to stand and verification of nominations by FoH
Step 3: Announcement of candidates, followed by period of campaigning
Step 4: Ballot papers distributed to members
Step 5: Voting to take place over a period of 14 days, each member having one vote
Step 6: Counting of votes and announcement of the result at the FoH AGM

Further details, including specific dates, will be made available in due course,

As ever, all feedback and comments on this month’s blog are welcomed.
Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts.