May 2015

Marching on

April was another huge month for the Foundation in which membership numbers reached an all-time high, we hosted the inaugural plot award ceremony at Tynecastle and we reached a significant milestone on our agreement with BIDCO. In this month’s blog we update on these successes and all other news from what was a busy month.

Inaugural Plot Ceremony

On Sunday 19th of April the Foundation was delighted to welcome the first group of pledgers to the inaugural commemorative pitch plot ceremony at Tynecastle. Some 50 committed supporters were awarded their own unique virtual plot of the hallowed turf, 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. Representatives from the club including Ann Budge, Robbie Neilson and Craig Levein were on hand to present the plot certificates and to show their appreciation for our pledger’s unstinting support. Pictures from this momentous occasion are available to view here.

As part of the occasion, the Foundation was proud to present Ann Budge with a special award in recognition of her devotion to the Club and support of the Foundation. Ann, the Queen of Hearts, was allocated the centre circle plot and was presented with a commemorative turf cube as a mark of our appreciation.

The feedback from attendees has been extremely positive and we will continue to host these ceremonies in coming months as the number of pledgers reaching the 1,000 points target rises. We look forward to welcoming you to Tynecastle and having the opportunity to thank you for the amazing support you continue to show the Foundation.

Another Milestone

Under the agreement with BIDCO we entered into last May, the Foundation undertook to meet certain financial conditions. The conditions, set out below, are effectively the hurdles we must pass on our path to fan ownership:

  1. £1m on completion of the agreement in May 2014 to HMFC;
  2. £1.4m in year 1 of the agreement to HMFC toward working capital;
  3. £1.4m in year 2 of the agreement to HMFC toward working capital; and
  4. £2.4m to BIDCO over the remainder of the agreement in order to buy the rights to the loan BIDCO made to HMFC at the start of the agreement and to acquire BIDCO’s shareholding in HMFC.

The first condition was achieved on the Club’s exit from administration and In April we successfully met the second condition in line with our financial plan. This is a huge achievement and is testament to the loyalty and commitment of every single member of the Foundation. We have been told over and over that our dream of owning and shaping the future of our Club is not possible. Every single month, when you pledge to the Foundation, we take another huge stride forward and you prove these cynics wrong.

However, we still have a long way to go. The Foundation of Hearts cannot rest on its laurels and we would therefore ask all supporters to take this simple message to your fellow fans who have not yet signed up to this vital cause on behalf of the club we love: we have achieved so much through the financial backing of 8,000 members; how much more can the club achieve in the Premiership with an even bigger membership delivering more financial resources? It is never too late to become a pledger and play a part in creating history.

On Board

Some of you may recall that part of our agreement with BIDCO requires that a second member of the Foundation Board join the main Club Board one year from the start of the agreement. With that landmark now upon us we are very pleased to announce that Brian Cormack will be joining the Hearts Board as Director in May. Brian was one of the original founders of FoH and has been a pivotal part of the Foundation’s early success. His business background is in construction and property and as part of his role he will assist the Club in this area. He joins the Heart’s board with the full backing and best wishes of the Foundation and the rest of the Board have no doubt that he will be a great asset to the Club.

Brian’s appointment further underlines the close links between the Foundation and the Club and our shared commitment to work together to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to fan ownership.

Governance Working Group Update

At the Foundation, we are constantly struck by two things – firstly, the amazing number of people who, simply because they love Hearts, are willing to help us with their time and talent, and secondly the enormous range of expertise which resides within our membership. Here is one illustration.

At our first AGM last December, our chairman Ian Murray said that one of the board’s priorities in 2015 would be to set up a working group to assist the board in developing a long-term fan ownership model and governance framework for the Foundation. Put simply, as we transition towards acquiring control of the Club, we are determined to create an enduring ownership model which will meet both our members’ expectations and the needs of the Club and will be the gold standard which others wish to emulate.

Within minutes of the meeting ending, two members – Andy Adams and Josh McLeod – came forward to ask if they could help the working group. Andy is a Professor of Finance at Heriot-Watt University and Josh is one of his post-graduate students. Andy has pursued a strong academic interest in fan-owned football clubs and Josh is currently researching this subject for his PhD. The growth of fan ownership of football clubs has attracted a lot of academic research in the UK and elsewhere and it was clear that Andy and Josh’s expertise would be valuable to the working group as it investigated best practice and considered what would be right for Hearts.

In March, the working group had a very useful brainstorming meeting with our two resident experts where we explored the strengths and challenges of supporter-ownership and discussed the particular priorities for a Foundation/Club structure. This has provided an excellent basis on which to proceed with our research and we will hopefully be able to continue to draw on Andy and Josh’s expertise and advice as the group continues its work.

It goes without saying that, further down the line, as the options for long-term ownership and governance become clearer, there will be open consultation with our members to help us gain a first-hand understanding of your priorities and concerns.

Strip Survey

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who responded to our survey about the fans tribute strip. We had an unbelievable response with more than half of FoH members answering the question. And of those replying, a healthy majority indicated that they are likely to buy the strip (either one or more). We’re very grateful to everyone who took time to do the survey which is a really helpful guide for the Club.

Leave a comment

As ever, we welcome your comments and feedback on this month’s Foundation blog. Do let us know if there is anything you would like to hear about in future blogs.

Thanks and have a great May!

29 thoughts on “May 2015”

  1. Would it be possible to post my benefit card as I live in Portsmouth yet have been contributing from the beginning.?

  2. Proud to have pledged since day one. Although I work overseas and can only watch my beloved Hearts on rare occasions, I am so proud to be part of the continued growth of our great club and look forward to the coming years with my family of fellow Jambos. Well done to the FOH.

  3. I have pledged from the beginning because I believed the supporters bought in to FOH and what they were trying to achieve. Keep up the great work you are doing.

  4. well done great season lets keep it going FOH member looking forward to new strip coming out

  5. Keep up the fantastic work everyone. This club will go from strength to strength with support of our brilliant fans

  6. Like many of us, I contributed through both 500 clubs to the building of 2 stands at Tynecastle. A similar scheme could be put in place to fund the new main stand. The opportunity to be part of the club’s revival through FOH has been fantastic, providing like minded people who want to contribute something to the cause, with a way to take the club forward. I am so proud of what all FOH members have achieved and grateful to Ann for her massive contribution.

  7. Another great month for hearts So many people working to rebuilt our team Even when we achieve fan ownership Ann Budge and her team should be asked to stay on

  8. Thank you. Is there an apitite amongst fans to increase subscriptions by £10 each to help fund new main stand.

  9. I am a pledger living abroad. My grandson, naturally, is also a HoM fan but a student living in England, who cannot as yet afford to pledge himself. Instead of increasing my own pledge, could it be possible to pledge from my account in his name and have all the correspondence forwarded to him as a Foundation member? I know that being a member would further his love for a club he has yet to visit.

  10. Fantastic news, so proud to be part of saving this magnificent club and relieved it will be in safe hands to pass down to another generation of donaldsons.
    My father in law thought he would convert my son to support rangers if we ever went bust and I’m delighted to say ‘not on my watch pal’.

  11. Josh’s research work for his PhD would no doubt make an interesting read for all of us who share an interest in fan ownership. I’m sure other clubs who operate under a similar ownership would benefit greatly from sharing best practice and this is a great opportunity for the FoH to glean ideas from as many sources as possible.

  12. Like many here, not only do I feel great about being part of such a positive movement supporting the club we love, I think we are very fortunate to have so many talented people in the driving seat in FoH guiding the way. Many thanks all.

  13. Well done everyone .another goal achieved towards owning our great club. KEEP PLEDGING

  14. Been a fan of this amazing club since birth. 36 years on with all the ups and downs we’ve had. It amazes me that this is the first time I can really think of that everyone, from the fans, staff, players, board members are all pulling in same direction. I can’t think of any other club in Scotland that has that mentallity The future is maroon.

  15. I’ve pledge from the very begining and i’m so proud of what our team (HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN) has done this season, it just goes to show what we can achieve if we all pull together. Hugh Thank you to Anne and her team, HHGH.

  16. £2.4m plus the income from the excellent support every home game is certainly building a strong foundation for the future. The very strong team Ann Budge has running our club is managing the investment from fans with great diligence are care. When we do take the reigns it would be great if these people were still involved so the club will be stable and safe for the future.
    Big thanks to FoH, the Boards and the Fans.

  17. So proud at what is being acheived by FoH, this last couple of years have been quite depressing and scary, but now the ship has been steadied and after a wonderful season we look forward to next season back where we belong, but it will be tough!

  18. First time I have commented and I thought it time that I did so. I’ve just read the update on the blog and I continue to be amazed and impressed by everything that is being done at the club by so many committed and talented people. Yes, we help with funding but there is so much more going on. I’m immensely proud of what is happening and look forward to the future of our great club.

  19. Congratulations to all involved. Keep up the good work and remember, we’re behind you!

  20. Brilliant to be part of a strong movement with drive, focus and a common purpose.
    ..

    #CreateHistory

  21. Volunteering
    I am an architect and consultant on designing buildings for people with dementia at the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling – http://www.dementia.stir.ac.uk – . I note the the Club are supporting initiatives towards ensuring inclusion for people with dementia and would like to offer my own personal support in this regard if this would be of any help.

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