Hearts fans mixed emotions over Tynecastle finances

Alan Wallace is anxious for a fresh start at the club. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Alan Wallace is anxious for a fresh start at the club. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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TWEETS from shell-shocked fans summed up the mixed emotions of desperation and optimism sweeping around Tynecastle.

Using the hashtag #SaveOurHearts. Kevin Hood pleaded: “Whether it’s a season ticket or a car airfreshener you need you need to get along to Tynie and spend some cash.” And a defiant Blair Messer said: “Grim statement from #Hearts today doesn’t change a single thing, #wellsupportyouevermore #saveourhearts.”

These messages were typical of the reaction of many fans, who urged fellow supporters to dig deep once more.

However, with the club making a fresh appeal for assistance on the back of the shock news all of the clubs’ players are available for sale because not enough supporters have renewed their season tickets, other lifelong Jambos are becoming jaded, and somewhat distrustful of those holding the reins of power in Gorgie.

Yesterday , as if to illustrate this, there was little sign of activity at the club’s ticket office.

The handful that were there turned up not to renew their season tickets but to ensure they got their hands on briefs for tonight’s Foundations of Hearts meeting, where a question-and-answer session on the fans’ buyout of the club will be held.

There was a sense of gloom and misery around the ground.

Alan Wallace, who works in air traffic control at Prestwick Airport, drove to the Capital from Troon to make sure he had a ticket for the meeting. The 49-year-old said: “Naturally, I’m very concerned. Even that threat of going to the first division – I wasn’t horrified by that. It would have made a change from the premier league, which – with or without Rangers – is just the same old same old.”

Mr Wallace has renewed his season ticket for the past 18 years, even during a three-year period in which he lived in Manchester. He held his wedding reception in the Gorgie suite.

He said: “I’ve always done my bit for them over the years. But some people are reticent about buying season tickets at the moment because they don’t know what will happen to the money – money is tight these days.

“You don’t want to hand your money over when it could just disappear into a Lithuanian vault.”

Self-employed Kevin Picken, 54, from Leith, also went to pick up tickets to tonight’s meeting – one where fans will learn how their pledges are to be transformed into hard cash. Speaking about the club’s fire sale bombshell, he said: “The whole thing is a mess.

“Anybody with a serious amount of money will be waiting to see what happens before they buy their season ticket – they’re not going to spend money for it to be sent over to some bank in Lithuania.” In the twists and turns of one of Scottish football’s most dramatic soap operas fans have so far stuck by their club through thick and thin.

Just six months ago, diehard Hearts fans helped see off
oblivion by raising more than £1.05 million in less than eight weeks through a share scheme initiative.

Their rousing Tynecastle bailout was a high water mark for the family club, one which sparked incredible camaraderie and a feeling the terraces could just about save this most famous of clubs.

Another fan, Keith Marsh, 49, has bought a season ticket for the past 25 years but is now, for the first time, refusing to put his hand in his pocket and renew it.

Born and bred in Gorgie, he discussed the club’s position at the Tynecastle Arms.

“It’s as if they’re trying to panic people into handing their money over when Romanov and company are still there,” he said. “It’s a cry for help.

“The reason people are holding back from buying season tickets is because they don’t want to give money to him, they want to give it to people they trust and they don’t trust him any more.

“It’s about trust. If someone I trusted came in tomorrow and said I had to buy a season ticket to save the club, then of course I would.”

In an attempt to battle through its financial crisis, the club has announced all players are for sale in an effort to generate cash needed to see it through the summer.

In a strongly-worded club statement that has sparked widespread anger, “hesitation and inaction” was cited as the reason for cashflow problems: a rich assertion given this week’s announcement that Vladimir Romanov’s Ukio Bankas is to be liquidated.

The club faces uncertainty with a debt of £25m, £10m of which is due to its parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group. We revealed this week how administrators will not immediately call in the £15 million Hearts owe the bank even though it has been liquidated.

For Vicki Kinnear, it’s a testing time. The 37-year-old, a medical secretary from Gilmerton, comes from generations of Hearts supporters. Next week, she and her husband to be, Mark Mitchell, 35, will tie the knot at the football stadium which has played an integral part in their lives.

Yesterday’s harsh announcement by Hearts came on the day of her wedding rehearsal.

Vicki said: “My club is more important than anything.

“I’ve always been a season ticket holder. We go abroad to watch them play in Europe.

“I was shocked when I heard the announcement, especially when I heard about the players being out up for sale.

“To be honest, this situation is absolutely gut-wrenching. “You’ve just got to try and not let it get to you, but there’s so much speculation.”

Rab Hay bought his season ticket in March. Like Vicki, he comes from a family that has long supported the Tynecastle club – his dad taking him to his first match when he was two years old.

But he said: “When I read the statement this morning, it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

“I’ve already got my season ticket and I’ve just been out and brought in some season ticket brochures for people.

“The fans have done enough, there’s only so far we can dig deep, and a lot of people are suspicious that the club just want to get more money. We will do what we can,

Vivian Cameron, 54, from Oxgangs, attends matches with her partner Douglas Weddel, 60 and son Paul Cameron, 29.

She said: “I hope the club doesn’t go under, I’ve been a Hearts supporter for many years. It’s sad. It’s an Edinburgh club, but I just don’t know where they are going to from here – it would sad to see it all disappear.”