A SCOTS consortium is set to launch their second bid for Hearts FC within weeks – amid claims it must offer to pay at least £4.5 million to stand any chance of purchasing the club.
Foundation of Hearts’ insiders (FOH) say they will pay “a fair price” to take the helm, having seen their initial £450,000 offer rejected by Hearts’ Lithuanian owners, who branded the valuation a “staggering misjudgment”.
But FOH – which aims to create a supporter-led boardroom – has vowed not to waste fans’ money by paying over the odds for the cash-strapped Gorgie club, thought to be shouldering debts of around £24m.
Despite shaky finances, which saw fans raise around £1m to secure the club’s future, Hearts have already dismissed a £4.5m bid from former Livingston owner Angelo Massone and it is understood FOH would have to better that price to turn the head of Vladimir Romanov. Alex Mackie, Foundation of Hearts chairman, said: “Although the Foundation has not been high-profile over the past couple of weeks, we are working extremely hard on the next phase of our fan ownership initiative.
“We can reassure supporters that we are still very much in the frame and remain focused on achieving the objective to which so many Hearts fans have responded so positively.
“We have received a limited amount of financial information recently and are progressing the preparation of our bid strategy, which we aim to have well developed around the end of this month.This will have at its heart a fair and realistic valuation of the club, as we all appreciate that, if the initiative progresses, we are talking about Hearts fans putting their hands in their pockets yet again – albeit that this is for a long-term strategy, not a short-term fix for the club.”
But an insider with knowledge of Hearts’ demands said FOH would have to exceed Massone’s multi-million pound proposal.
“You would assume if they are going to make a bid they will have to make it at least the same amount of money as Massone,” they said. “But how are they going to fund it, that is the question. How would it impact on the share issue is another problem – there are lots of questions.”
And it is understood that directional differences between Hearts and the would-be buyers may be a problem.
A source said: “Hearts want a solution within the G10 [Hearts supporters’ groups] and one they create.
“They don’t want someone coming along saying ‘this is how it’s going to work’. That could be the crux of the conflict [with FOH].
The Foundation includes Hearts’ striking legend Donald Ford and IT multi-millionaire Ann Budge.
A source close to the Foundation said: “There would be a fair price paid given the circumstances and financial context. The legacy for Mr Romanov would be passing on what he has done – some of which has been extremely positive – to fans.”