As it happened: Foundation of Hearts leader Ian Murray webchat

Labour MP and Hearts supporters chief Ian Murray. Picture: SNS
Labour MP and Hearts supporters chief Ian Murray. Picture: SNS
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Labour MP Ian Murray, who is fronting the fan-led group hoping to gain control of Hearts, held a webchat following the club’s announcement that it is to enter administration.

The Tynecastle club released a statement late yesterday afternoon announcing their intention to appoint administrators KPMG following months of financial uncertainty triggered by the demised of owner Vladimir Romamanov’s network of businesses.

12:30

Comment From William

Is there any new news regarding the situation with Ubig and if not when can you see this becoming clearer?

12:35

No new news about UBIG but the Administration of the Club allows us to have conversations with a local administrator. The UBIG situation is very unclear to even the UKIO administrator. They have no Board, their assets have been frozen, they have applied to the Lithuanian authorities that they cannot meet their liabilities but no formal legal process has yet commenced.

12:35

Comment From Keith

Ian, today’s Edinburgh Evening News article states that you have had discussions with two consortiums about a joint venture with FoH. You stated yesterday that FoH are the only credible bid at this stage. Can you clarify the position please?

12:36

Keith, the position is that no other bidder has yet ome forward formally so it is difficult to determine. I have spoken with the Scandinavians and 2 other potential bidders but, at this stage, they are just potential. The FoH is not precious about how all this works out we just want Hearts to survive and anyone who has the best interests of the club at heart we would support.

12:36

Comment From Allan Reid

when Will first pledge payment be taken from bank accounts

12:37

Allan - we have set a date of 4 July but this can be altered with the permission of the pledger. The system should go live today. However, if we are unlikely to be in a position to do a deal come 4 July we will delay the date as there is no point in taking money that will ultimately have to be returned. This will all be via communications with pledgers.

12:37

Comment From Craig

I would like to ask Ian why he has said that the funds raised by FOH may be used for short term funding when fans have pledged money on the understanding it will be used to help fund new ownership,?

12:39

Craig - good questions. The funds will primarily be used to purchase the club but there is still an ongoing funding gap at the club and that has to be factored into any deal. If we pay £x for the club but also require £y to keep it running then we will need to ensure that it is part of the deal and that may mean pledges will have to be used to plug that gap but it will be about the memebrs owning the club.

12:39

Comment From George

Should a bid succeed how will this happen ? Will scheduled payments be made, the bid underwritten then paid back ? If the former what would happen in case of a default ?

12:41

We are working on all these aspects at the moment. A capital sum will be required (although the administration of the club makes this slightly less likely). We will have to capitalise the revenue pledges into a capital sum. In the case of default the normal processes would apply but we are buildin gin strong tolerances to our financial model to ensure it is robust. That is why we have continually said that it is important we ge tthe bid correct. We cannot bid more than we can afford or we will be in the same position than we are at the moment.

It must be about long term financial stability.

The mroe people that pledge the more financially stable we will be and the more we are lilkely to be able to bid.

12:41

Comment From Guest

How close are FOH to putting in a realistic bid for the club?

12:42

We were heading towards 30 June but it will now be dictated, partly, by the Administrator.

12:42

Comment From Eric

Can you clarify your position on Season Tickets already sold. Will they be honoured if FOH is successful or will you ask ST holders to make a further contribution?

12:43

We have factored into our financial planning that we will honour them but this is really going to be a decision that is made byt he Adminsitrator at the moment. The FoH said we would always be honest and that is the honest answer. At the moment we WILL honour them but that decision, at this stage, may be out of our control depending on when/if we can get control.

12:44

Comment From John

What would the significance be, if any, were Ukio to be successful in getting UAB as opposed to KPMG to be the Adminstrators?

12:44

Not sure if there will be any significance. Under the law the major creditor is entitled to object to the Directors choice and appoint if they so wish.

12:44

Comment From Kenny

Are there any plans for creating a new company if Hearts are liquidated? Have you thought that far ahead if this was to happen?

12:44

We have not thought that far ahead at this stage.

12:45

Comment From james

if the foh are successful in their bid to buy the club can i then donate money monthly

12:45

Yes, the system will go live shortly (hopefully today)

12:45

Comment From William

How many p,edges are there to date?

12:45

There were just over 4,000 on Friday and we burst 5,000 this morning

12:45

Comment From Robert

When do FOH expect to take first pledge payments

12:45

4 july but see previous answer

12:46

Comment From Neil.

If fans commit to a pledge, how long is the commitment for? What happens if fans wish to stop making a donation to the club? How is this budgeted for?

12:47

The commitment is open ended but we have built in tolerances of +/- 20% churn. We would hope that fans would conitnue to support this on a long term basis and make the club financially stable and the team successful.

12:47

Comment From Guest

When will foh have a paper form pledge that can be posted to an address for foh. Not everyone is online and you are missing out on hundreds of .plpledgespledgesanddirectdebits

12:48

Yes, we will have this in place alongside the online and it will be able to be posted back to us. Details will be available shortly.

12:48

Comment From Guest

From what you know about the SPL and SFA rules on administration, and given HMFCs previous indisgretions, what do you expect to be the most likely duration of a transfer ban for Hearts. And if the FoH became owners, how would you get around this?

12:48

The new amalgamated governing bodies rules have not yet been determoined but we would hope to negotiate with the authorities given the club would be under new ownership.

12:49

Comment From Rudi

Isn’t it going to take a fair few months to actually get a decent sum of money from the pledges? We don’t have time for this!

12:49

Its about having a stable revenue stream and this can be demonstrated by the direct debiot mandate being in place.

12:49

Comment From Andy

I know it’s early in the proceedings but do we know who will have the final say as to the clubs fate

12:50

The Hearts Adminstrators in conjunction with e UKIO adminstrator and UBIG when they have someone appointed.

12:50

Comment From Gorgie George

Is the time that you are spending on this affecting your role as an MP? Surely this must be impacting on your constituents?

12:51

I’m doing this in my own time and my role as an MP is unaffected. Thanks to all those who contacted me after the programme last night to say how tired I looked. Very much appreciated. I get more than 700 emails a day as an MP and they are all being dealt with as normal and my duties are being carried out as normal.

12:51

Comment From Stewart

In your point , what is the best to help the club in this hard time ?

12:52

Make a pledge to FoH if you can afford it and when the adminsitrator is appointed you will be able to purchase things from the club as the funds will be ring fenced.

12:52

Comment From Bobby

How many pledges can you CONFIRM are real? And not ones that Hibs/any other fan has made?

12:52

We have purged the system of all email addresses that do not exist and these are actual numbers. We removed 70 Rod Petries and 45 Albert Kidds!

12:52

Comment From Kalamazoo Jambo

Is there an opportunity to pledge a one-off lump sum as well as monthly payments?

12:53

The system that will go live today will be for monthly direct debits but it will be quickly followed by a lump sum option, a corporate pledging site and other methods of supporting the FoH

12:53

Comment From John C

5,000 pledges is less than half the average attendence at Tynecastle, are you happy or dissapointed by this number?

12:54

Very happy at this stage. It is a tough time for peoples budgets and it is also an uncertain time for the club so not everyone can afford to pledge and many of the average attendances include lots of children. We are looking to increase this sunstantially.

12:54

Comment From james

was there any effort from the FOH to avoid administration by bidding sooner?

12:55

We didn’t think Administration would happen that soon but the important thing from our persepctive was to get this right. It has to be in the interests of the Club and we will not take money from supporters if we are not able to do a deal. This is you money after all.

12:55

Comment From John

I know you cant reveal how much have been raised/pledged but do you genuinely believe that the FoH have a reasonable case to (A) buy the club (B) keep Tynecastle considering a £4.5M offer was turned down not that long ago

12:55

Yes is the simple answer

12:56

Comment From Steven

What have been your impressions of the Scandanavian consortium from your discussions? How serious do you gauge their interest?

12:56

I think they are genuine Hearts fans with a genuine interest but I don’t think they are serious enough.

12:56

Comment From William

Are you closer to gaining control of the club than you were this time last week?

12:57

I think the administration process can bring clarity and the number of pledges ramping up certianly helps so yes.

12:57

Comment From Stuart

If fan do pledge and the bid is unsuccessful, do the fans get their pledge back?

12:57

Yes and when the system goes live you will get all the information on governance etc before you pledge so it will all be available.

12:57

Comment From brian

what about us overseas supporters Ian when can we pledge.

12:58

This has to be a seperate system for audit, money laundering and costs purposes. We will be using merchant pay and this takes time to set up properly but should be live very soon. I know people talk about paypal etc but it does not gives us the ability to be completely transaprent and to be able to return the money easily.

12:59

Comment From Derek

Have former players and celebrity supporters been approached to contribute to the FOH fund ?

12:59

We have all the 2012 cup winning goals scorers, the french connection in Gilles Roussett and Stephan Adam and we will be releasing others as we go along. Donald Ford, of course, in on the FoH Board.

13:00

Comment From Angela

Is there any update on you being able to access the 71,000 names/email addresses in the HMFC database?

13:00

We are working on this with the Club but the events of the last few days have meant that this, for obvious reasons, is not at the top of their to do list. It would put us into a different stratosphere and allow a direct communication with all fans.

13:01

Comment From Radge21

There are not many 1st team players left.Can the player pool be cut by much more.Considering not too many off them are of the quality that will be needed. 2, will you consider joining up with other consortiums if things are not moving in the right direction quickly enough.

13:02

The squad and staff are already down to the bare bones so not sure there is much left to cut.

In terms of other bidders, we would work with them if they so wished. If not, then as long as they can secure the club and take it forward then that is also fine. However, there may be a strong case for bolting on fan ownership as part of any future owner.

13:02

Comment From Guest

Are you attempting to put anything in place in order to reach those Hearts fans who have not yet pledged or don’t know how to pledge in order to “promote” FoH?

13:03

We are doing all we can. We are on every TV station, in every newspaper, have done a large public meeting, have our website, facebook and twitter feeds, we have reuqests for meeting up and down the country and we are trying to get the message out as far and wide as we possible can. It is slightly more complicated by not have any matches of course.

13:03

Comment From Alex

Will the banks accept “pledges” as a stable means of funding a takeover ? Would the not be too many uncertainities ? Would their have to be a guarantor for the funds and has someone volunteered to do this ? Can you also confirm that the pledgers will not be personally liable for any business losses sustained if FOH do take control ?

13:05

Alex, lots of questions. Let me get through these as they are important.

Converted pledges are a revenue stream like any other and it is all part of a stable business model that would need to be presented.

The FoH is set up as a company limited by guarantee so the liability of a memebr is restricted to £1.

13:05

Comment From Andy

I understood the need in the past for the FoH to work away quietly up till now but do you intend to go on the front foot from today and “bang the drum” a bit more?

13:06

Andy - we are banging the drum as much as we can and we have put on 25% more pledgers in 2 days

13:06

Comment From Richard

Will there be any benefits for people who pledge other than helping the club out

13:08

You would actually own the Club, be able to be elected onto the Board of FoH and there will be other advantages. We cannot talk about benefits at this stage as there are implications for VAT etc and that would reduce the pledge amounts by 20%.

The important thing is though that the company is controlled by its members and that means you control what you want to do with the funds and how people should be “rewarded”. Its your club and your decision. It may make season tickets cheaper if I use you example. These are all things that the members are able to discuss and agree on at a future date.

13:08

Comment From Guest

Can you explain Ian how you would fund purchase of club thru FOH? You say now £5k subscribers Assuming average monthly payment of £20 this equates to £ 100k per month or £1.2m pa

13:09

£1.2m a year is a very large additional revenue stream that can be capitalised.

13:09

Comment From John Gillan

Appreciating all your hard work to date, is there not a case for former high progile players (Robo etc) to be seen more on tv, backing FOH

13:09

We have released a number of very high profile names and we will continue to work with people to increase this.

13:10

Apologies, There are so many questions coming in at the moment Im just having to pick through them as best as I can. Bear with me. If anyone wants to compliment me on my fast typing skills?

13:11

Comment From Mike

I don’t have much money - what else can i do to help?

13:11

Just keep spreeding the word. That would be a great help.

13:12

Comment From Alan

What about fake pledges using valid email addresses and names? I’ve asked this 3 times now and you’ve not listed it!!!!

13:13

We have sent emails out to all pledgers and the ones with proper emails addresses who are not genuine will not convert their pledges to cash. We have factored this into our calculations so 5,000 is the actual figure.

13:14

Comment From Alex

For fans, maybe of an older generation, who aren’t comfortable with the interweb, could a window at the Hearts shop/ticket office be made available for making pledges?

13:14

We will work on alternatives. It is difficult to use the Club as we are a bidder and there are very strict rules as to takeover legislation etcf.

13:15

Comment From BS

Can you confirm that this is a live webchat, and not pre-recorded as an advertising feature for FoH?

13:15

Its 13:15 and I’m replying to you live

13:16

Comment From Derek

Will the FoH have any clout with the administrators to say, for instance, that they would prefer the club’s training facilities at Riccarton to be retained as a pre-requisite for any bid?

13:16

Hearts do not own the training facilities but are merely a partner in the overall project with Heriot Watt and other parties.

13:16

Comment From Swavkav

Why has it taken so long for the FOH get get things up & running? When we knew the club was in trouble in October?

13:17

Ive only been involved for 6 weeks but the problem last year was that the FoH was about to launch and the share issue came in. That made it very difficult to run in tandem and it was important that the share issue, for the club, was a success.

13:18

Comment From Guest

i know its a theoretical, but were you to be successful in your bid, how would our budget for players compare to the rest of the SPL. Would we be able to compete on the current numbers or would you need a more cash rich bidder to come in with you?

13:19

Over the last few years Hearts have had a tunrover of between £6m and £10m. If you use the FIFA and UEFA rule of thumb in terms of wages being 60% of turnover then that gives you an annual wage bill of at least £3.6m. That will be the highest outside the old firm I suspect.

13:19

Comment From EdinburghYouth

Ian, how long do you envisage that pledges will need to continue before the club becomes self sustainable?

13:20

We want pledges to continue ad infinitum but the importnat hing would be to ensure we pay off any debt taken on to purchase the club and get it on a stable financial footing paying its own way.

13:20

Comment From jordan

can parents pledge money for there children ?

13:21

You can on the online system but anyone under the age of 16 will be honorary members as they would not be allowed to stand for election to the Board.

13:21

Comment From Chris

What about the stadium? The club do not own it, is that correct? Where will club play?

13:21

The stadium is techincally owned byb UKIO bankas as standard security on their £15m debt. It will need to be part of the overall deal.

13:22

Comment From AJG

I pledged when the website went live but after yesterday I want to increase the amount. Can you confirm whether you will allow fans to do this? Changed my name so you don’t think I am the other Alan!

13:22

You will have the oppotunity to change this when the conversion system goes live later.

13:23

Comment From EdinburghYouth

Ian, I will ask again what is the business plan for the club if you (we) are succesfull in the bidding from the administraitors

13:24

The business plan is to firstly get the club living within its means. When that has happened it will be about ensuring we have the best possible team on the park within that envelope. There is also the issues around the main stand and that will be a key bit of work for the FoH to undertake. The emphsis on youth development is critical and we are glad to have Claum Robertson of the HYDC on the board.

13:25

Comment From John

I think we need to draw a line in terms of why certain things did or did not happen in the past. We are where we are now, and in the absence of other verified and serious interest in the club, the question we all have to ask ourselves is what we will personally do now?

13:26

John, I agree and we will all be delighted if this is sorted for the benefit of the Club very soon. The FoH are being open about what we want to do and how we hope to achieve it and if there are other potential new owners out there then lets all welcome them with open arms. It is about the future of the Club, nothing else.

13:27

Comment From Stuart

I FoH are successful with the bid, what differences will we see at the club in terms of transparency and honest, regular communication?

13:27

The fans will own the Club so communciation will be better. A new start for the Club and getting it back to its rightful place in Scottish Football. The fans are the Club and communciations must and will be better.

13:28

Comment From Derek

Theres a lot of negativity and doubt on kickback about FOH’s ability to carry this through. What do say to these people to bring them on side ?

13:30

We are all doing this in the interests of the Club. If you do not like with the FoH are proposing then get on Board as a member and change it. It is your Club and it would be owned by you. THere is nothing set in stone.

I do accept the criticisms that marketing has not been as good as it should be but we are trying our best to get the message out.

We are doing these forums, having meetings with fans, and communciationg as best as we can.

We will not please everyone but all we ask is a chance to see what we can achieve.

It doesn’t cost the fan anything if we are not succssful so what is there to lose?

13:30

Comment From Henry

Who decides/has decided the make up of the FoH board? will this go to vote? how do we know any of you are up to the job??? you are asking us to fund your! plan, not the fans

13:31

The memebrs decide the make up fo the Board via a one person one vote structure of election. There will be 4 fans places and 4 functional officers places plis a chair. They will be elected every 3 years on a rolling annual basis of a third each year.

13:31

Comment From Graeme

Does the FOH have the captial resource to supplement the pledges which are converted. As much as the fans ownership model is a viable option running a football club is a very expensive business. As it stands we are struggling to field a team so there would be some adequate capital injected. What’s your thoughts? Thanks

13:32

We are exploring a number of avenues at the moment and have been progressing this. It is a little chicken and egg as we need the revenue requirement to capitalise but we need to convince people we have access to acapital befor ethey pledge.

We do have resources avenues available to us.;

13:32

Comment From Billy

I’m concerned that we will have, as you put it in an earlier reply, the highest wages outside the old firm. Should we not be looking at - dare I say it? The model employed at Hibs? Where they’ve managed to keep costs down and have their own training centre and stadium fit for the 21st century.?

13:33

I think every Club must live within their means in this era of the game and that is what we will do. Other clubs like Motherwell have been through this already and see where they are today.

13:33

Comment From HeartsFC5-1

Are you threatened by any other potential bids from outwith the FOH?

13:34

Comment From Sophie

For the main stand is it possible that FoH could charge extra for season tickets one year, to pay for the stand, then offer reduced season ticket prices once the main stand is built?

13:34

Not at all as any bid that is successful and in the interests of the Club we will wholeheartedly support and we may even be able to work together.

13:34

All these avenues will be explored when we know the financial situation at the Club. Important thing is to get the short term resolved.

13:35

Comment From Chris

Do Foh want to keep the stadium? Maintenance costs are high and the council will never let us redevelop (because the neighboring factory might explode). Could it be better do build a new place that will generate cash going forward?

13:35

These are importnat issues but also highlight why the real eastate value of the ground is much much lower than would normally be if there was full development potential for residential units.

13:37

Comment From Rambo the Jambo

There are quite a few questions being asked about FoH and their workings, this may very well be the best if not only ‘show in town’. To encourage even more pledges you need to tell us how in the first instance the bid will be funded. If we knew that one or more of the founder members or others were backing the bid probably more pledges would come for the ‘buy back’ scheme. Waht’s your thoughts

13:38

These are issues that I have addressed in terms of havinng a number of avenues we are looking at at the moment. These will take a little time to crystalise but they are not easily put into place, particularly given the Club are lurching from one disaster to another. The uncertainty does not help.

The bid will be funded through a capital sum and revenue funding.

This may mean a buy back or a normal term loan orother methods.

Discussions are ongoing and the final operation has not yet been concluded.

13:39

Comment From DyslexicBrian

I am from the SaltnSauce board and from the looks of things this webchat has generated a lot of interest. Is there a chance this could be a regular thing? Thanks

13:40

Happy to make it a more regular thing if time allows. We all have day jobs too but we have a good team who could answer questions.

13:40

Comment From Andy Morris

Ian, thank you for the sterling work carried out on our behalf with FOH, what single message would you like to give out that will galvanise the Hearts fans and get us all pulling in the same direction?

13:42

If there is a white knoght out there then we would welcome them with open arms. However, if there is not then the FoH are the only organisation that is attempting to buy the club. By pledging it costs you nothing and you will get your money back if we are unsuccessful.

Can youimagine starting next season, not just with hearts having a future, but by you, the fan, owning the Club and shaping its future direction.

That is the message and although there are always detailed questions to answer, and we will answer them in the best way we can, this is the reality of the situation.

Don’t wonder in a few years time if there was anything you can do as the foundation website is there now at www.foundationofhearts.org for making pledges.

13:42

Comment From Graeme

How quickly would you hope the ownership situation can be resolved realistically? I know how long is a piece of a string as very protracted but got to hope KPMG can force a sale of club as uncertainly and delays will only put genuine bidders off.

13:43

I would’ve thought quicker now given there will be an adminsrator appointed at Hearts.

13:43

Comment From Harv

Do you believe that there is any chance of Edinburgh Council would purchasing Tynecastle and leasing it back to Hearts?

13:43

Given the difficult state of public finances I’m not sure this is a credible option.

13:43

Comment From Stuart Ritchie

Surely the biggest danger to the club at present is cashflow. Are their any plans to raise cash to keep the club going until the administrator can sell the club?

13:44

Revenue funding is what we can access so that could be of beenfit to an administrator

13:44

Comment From Derrick

I pledged ages ago but still no email telling me what to do next to make pledge into cash ??

13:44

You will have it in 24 hours max.

13:44

Comment From David

Second request for clarification of this mornings Scotsman comment from Ian that FOH money may now be required “to keep the club going”. Please answer.

13:45

Purchasing from the administrator may mean that they require revenue funding to keep it from being liquidated. That would al be part of a deal package as part of purchasing the club. Not as a handout to keep it going but as part of a successful deal. The club has no money and it will have ongoing bills to pay so that is where the revenue funding will be required.

13:46

Comment From CARRICKVALE

UBIG HAVE KNOCKED BACK KPMG AS ADMINISTRATORS STV NEWS!!!.

13:46

This was always a danger and I have addressed this in an earlier response.

13:47

Comment From BS

Still no answer on contingency if Tynecastle can’t be bought and a newco Hearts starts in lower league?

13:48

IF administration fails the Club will be liquidated and the key to that will be retaining the ground. There is no contigency in that event as it would be a case of there being no club left and a newco would have to be created. THere is then a lengthy negotiation as to league memebrship etc, very much as happende to Rangers. If the ground is lost I can’t see an easy weay forward.

13:49

Comment From Guest

Ian, as other posters have said thank you for the work on behalf of our beloved club.I fully understand the chicken and egg situation around capital funding and pledges.

13:50

I’m sorry the time has flown by and the number of questions has been huge. I will see if we can arrange to so this again very soon.

Thanks t the Scotsman for setting it up and for all your questions.

I need to go now but thank you all and hope that you will all assist in trying to save our club.

If we are ultimately unsuccessful I hope we are able to persuade others to buy the club and I, and the rest of the FoH, will be delighted to just watch Hearts next season.

Thank you

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Hearts pay price for craziest years in their history

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Hearts confirm they will enter administration