The former chairman of Hearts has urged fans to make one final push and buy the 3000 season tickets needed to keep the club afloat for the next four months.
George Foulkes has pleaded with supporters to dig deep after administrator BDO yesterday said it could sustain the finance-stricken Jambos if they achieved the target within 14 days.
The concession came as 14 administrative staff were axed yesterday on a sombre day at Tynecastle. A further four players, who are yet to be identified, will be made redundant as early as today.
Administrator Trevor Birch, who helped haul Portsmouth out of administration, said outside of voluntary donations there was nowhere else to go apart from the fans to generate as much as £750,000 needed for Hearts to survive to the start of the new season.
He said: “There is literally no cash in the bank at all. At least on day one at Portsmouth, there was cash in the bank. The plea has to be to the fans to come forward yet again – and I know they’ve been effectively milked time and time again – but this really is the last rallying call to save the club.”
Administrators said all the funds generated from the sale of 7000 season tickets were already gone. The firm has committed to honouring those tickets for next season.
Hearts have known debts of £25 million owed to Lithuanian firms Ukio Bankas and UBIG.
BDO partner Bryan Jackson said selling an extra 3000 tickets would prevent BDO being forced into a “fire sale” of the 36-man playing squad. He said he believed the squad left over from cuts could still be “competitive”.
Mr Foulkes said: “I feel sick and sorry for the people who are losing their jobs who have given a great service to the club. Sadly it’s one of the inevitabilities of administration.
“The fans have done a tremendous amount. We’ve subscribed to the share issue, which we really have nothing back for. But now there is real hope for the future.
“I think BDO and Bryan Jackson has indicated that he’s working to keep the club as a going concern and I’d therefore say those who can afford it – and I think there are quite a lot who can – should now make one further contribution to the club because this is the last push.”
Staff were addressed collectively during a brief 15-minute meeting yesterday before sitting through tense one-on-one interviews. Those who survived the cuts were told bluntly there were no guarantees on when they would be paid. Employees were given the option to walk away. Some left Tynecastle in tears. One axed pregnant worker said she would lose the mortgage she had applied for.
Mr Birch said of the employees: “There was no anger. They were just very upset, of course, and resigned to the fact because obviously it’s been ongoing for some time.”
No credible offers to buy the club had been put to BDO as of late yesterday.