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!

April 2015

Glorious Hearts

What a month we had in March! The Championship trophy ribbons are now officially maroon and white! Thanks to the outstanding work of Robbie, Craig, the players and everyone associated with the Club we are now back where we belong. From the brink of liquidation to plotting our Premiership come back in the space of 12 months; what a journey we have been on together. You joined the revival. You made everything possible.

We hope our pledgers shared the pride we felt watching the scenes of celebration at a packed Tynecastle on Saturday against Queen of the South: pride in the team which has performed so fantastically throughout the season; pride in the Board that has worked tirelessly to put us back on a sound footing; and, above all, pride in the knowledge that we, as members of the Foundation, played a part in making it all happen.

In between the title celebrations, the Foundation has been hard at work on your behalf in March. In this month’s blog we give an update on finances, up and coming plot ceremonies and feedback on the Foundation’s new working groups.

Keeping up the momentum

March was another positive month for the Foundation with contributions holding steady against last month’s record high. This was despite a number of one off contributions in February which were replaced in March by more members signing up to monthly pledges. The match day inquiry desk has seen a number of fans sign up to become Foundation members in the last month. We hope to see many more coming through the door over the rest of the season and beyond.

Your continued support means we continue to be on track on our agreement with BIDCO. The funds we have provided to date have directly supported the fantastic progress we have seen at Tynecastle both on and off the field. The Foundation cannot rest on its laurels, however. We have achieved so much through the financial backing of 8,000 members and can achieve so much more in the future if we grow from this base. This is the message we want you as members to help spread to those supporters who have not yet joined our movement. We need to carry our momentum into the Premier League and beyond. Now is the time to Pledge for the Premiership.

Win Win Win

Continuing the good news story, the Club announced last Wednesday that Save the Children will be the name on our shirt next season. This ground breaking partnership is the first of its kind in the UK and will see the charity and the Club working together over the next three years. The move underlines the values of responsibility and community now central to our Club’s philosophy. I am sure we speak for all members and supporters when we say that we are immensely proud of this announcement and can’t wait to pull on next season’s strip.

Plot Ceremonies

Arrangements are now in place for the first Fan Reward plot ceremony which is due to take place at Tynecastle on Sunday 19th April. The souvenir plot scheme gives members who have achieved over 1,000 Maroon Points ownership of a virtual plot on the hallowed Tynecastle pitch. We can’t wait for the opportunity to shake hands with members who have hit this level of points and thank them for the massive contribution they have made to the Foundation. Plot certificates will be presented by a club legend and it promises to be a special day for everyone involved.

Invitations have now been sent to the first 50 members to have reached the required level of points and will continue in groups of 50 thereafter. If you have achieved this level of points and have not been contacted yet, watch this space.

A model for the future

In last month’s blog we reported that we were in the process of establishing a series of working groups to assist the Board in driving forward specific Foundation objectives. The working groups are now established, with members of the Foundation Board participating in each. The groups are:

  • The Governance working group – set up with the objective of working closely with Ann Budge and the Club to ensure the many different models for fan ownership are fully researched and understood such that the chosen Hearts model can be implemented smoothly, seamlessly and successfully when ownership of the club is transitioned to the fans.
  • The Marketing and Members group – set up with the aim of growing the Foundation’s membership as well as engaging with and involving members in the Foundation’s activities; and
  • The Audit and Risk group – put in place with the remit of ensuring the Foundation maintains the highest possible standards of financial control and fully adheres to the agreement with BIDCO.

These groups will ensure that matters central to the future success of the Foundation are given due attention and will report to the Foundation Board on a monthly basis.

Look out for updates on the progress of our working groups in future blogs. In next month’s blog we will feature more on the Governance working group. If any member has any matter they wish to bring to the attention of a working group please contact us at info@foundationofhearts.org.

 

Match day information desk

Thanks to those of you that have popped into the match day information desk over the last month. We have signed up a number of new members at the desk but it has been just as encouraging to hear the positivity and commitment among our existing members.

We be available at Tynecastle reception from 1.30 at the Raith Rovers and Rangers home games before the end of the season. Look out for the FOH pop ups which will be displayed at the reception door (weather permitting after we almost lost them both on Saturday!).

Your Blog

The blog received over 2,000 visits last month. The comments and messages of support you left were nothing short of inspirational. Reading of what the Club’s survival and stability mean to so many of you underlined the importance of our cause.

This is your blog and we hope you continue to find these update useful and informative. Please feel free to use the comments section below for feedback and to let us know of anything you would like to hear about in future blogs.

March 2015 Blog

From strength to strength

After an astonishing February which saw a 10-0 victory at Tynecastle, a three minute hat trick, and a record contribution month for the Foundation, we thought it would be the perfect time to launch the official Foundation of Hearts blog!

The aim of this blog will be to keep members up to date with the goings-on at the Foundation as we continue our journey towards fan ownership.

In this month’s post we share news on February’s financial results, Fan Rewards, how to find us on match days and our plans for March and beyond.

Record contributions

Following the successful launch of Fan Rewards in collaboration with the club, we were absolutely delighted to see contributions reach record levels of over £130,000 for the month of February. This was due to an increase in membership as well as an increase in average member contributions. This fantastic response from our members means we remain well on track with our contributions to HMFC.

Ann Budge has continually stressed the importance of these contributions to the continued financial stability of Hearts and we are delighted to see our members pulling together behind the cause. Thank you for your continued support.

Fan Rewards update

We launched Fan Rewards in collaboration with the club in January and we have been really pleased with the response this initiative has received from members to date.

The fans tribute kit has certainly captured people’s imagination and the deadline for reaching enough Maroon Points to get your name on the strip passed on 28 February. All members who achieved the required 180 points by that date will automatically be included on the 3rd kit next season. The list of member names will be provided to the kit manufacturer this month and the name used will be your name per our member database.

Premium Benefit and Premium Benefit Plus cards provided by the club are also now available for collection from the club shop so make sure you get down there to take advantage of some fantastic discounts on meals, hotel stays, spa treatments and much more.

Foundation website

Our shiny new website was launched mid-January to coincide with the launch of Fan Rewards and we are really pleased with the final product. The site has been in development for a number of months and since its launch has received over 24,000 visits.

We hope members are as proud of it as we are and use it to continue to stay in touch with the Foundation over the crucial weeks and months ahead. If you do have any comments or feedback on the new website, please let us know using the comments section below or the “contact us” section of the website. Most recently, we added some Foundation FAQs to the site to provide help and support for issues such as logging on, changing your password and increasing your pledge.

Reception on match days

The club has kindly given us an area in reception for use on match days and you may have seen our pop up stands (or massive “pledge now” arrow!) in and around the main stand before kick-off. Our aim is to be available for all home games going forward to give members the opportunity to ask questions and keep in touch throughout the season. We were delighted to see a number of fans popping into the reception before the Livingston and Cowdenbeath games in February to pledge to the Foundation and play their part in creating history. It is heartwarming and humbling at times to hear how much the club and its history mean to so many.

Whether you want to increase your pledge, catch up on Foundation activities or even just steal a bit of Hearts rhubarb rock, our door is always open.

Looking forward

This blog is just the start of our plan for increasing interaction and engagement between the Foundation board and members. We are in the process of establishing a series of working groups and a support network of volunteers to assist the board in driving forward specific Foundation objectives. There will be scope for members to get involved in this new structure and we will keep you updated on our progress.

Feel free to use the comments box below to leave feedback and questions on this month’s blog. If there is anything specific you would like to hear about in future posts, let us know.

With a bit of luck by the time we issue the next blog the Championship title will be in the bag….