Hearts buyout: Foundation calls in pledges

Ian Murray MP. Picture: Joey Kelly
Ian Murray MP. Picture: Joey Kelly
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GOAL heroes who led Hearts to Scottish Cup glory have joined 4000 supporters in pledging cash to a fans’ consortium as it prepares a bid to take over the club.

Rudi Skacel, Danny Grainger, Darren Barr and Ryan McGowan – who all scored against Hibs in the final last year – have thrown their weight behind Foundation of Hearts’ bid to succeed Vladimir Romanov at Tynecastle.

The consortium is now set to convert 4000 pledges of 
support into cash by asking backers to donate between £10 and £100 a month.

This would give the group a war chest of anything between £480,000 and £4.8 million as it attempts to take the reins, with the money being used for the takeover bid, and to provide running funds for the club.

It comes as Hearts wait to learn today whether the club has fought off another winding-up order from Her 
Majesty’s Revenue & Customs over a £100,000 tax bill.

Tynecastle sources said they were confident the demand would be met, but if the 5pm deadline passes without the cash being handed over, a court would be asked to wind up the club.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, who represents six key Hearts supporters’ groups, said he was “reluctant” to reveal how much the consortium expected to gather in pledges ahead of talks with Romanov.

He said: “If we say we have the maximum amount then people stop pledging and if we say we have the minimum amount then supporters think what’s the point.”

Foundation of Hearts will hold an open meeting at the club on Friday to address fans’ questions and explain the next steps in its takeover bid.

Mr Murray said Hearts fans from across the world had offered their backing, with many pledges also coming from supporters of other clubs who believe in the concept of fan-led ownership in football.

And he thanked the cup final goalscorers for their efforts, despite none of them remaining on Hearts’ books.

He said: “The momentum is growing, and this latest milestone provides a real sense that we’re preparing to enter a crucial phase in terms of converting pledges to cash, and beginning the process of making a formal offer to the board.

“I’m absolutely delighted that iconic figures are backing our ambitions to have Heart of Midlothian Football Club owned by the people who love and cherish it best – the fans. I can’t thank them and all the pledgers enough for their 
support.”

Hearts’ recent money woes include staving off a winding-up order in December after supporters raised more than £1m to help pay tax debts.

A £450,000 bill was paid off while Hearts agreed to settle a separate demand by paying £1.5m over three years.

The Evening News told last week how Romanov was understood to have fled to Moscow as investigators seek a European arrest warrant over allegations of embezzlement of £12m of assets from his bank, Ukio Bankas.