The news emerging from my club yesterday has hit me like a sledgehammer.
I’m sure I’m not the only Hearts supporter who hardly slept a wink last night. I’m so angry and so worried about what’s happened and I’m tearing my hair out. It’s a total minefield and I wish I had all the answers but unfortunately I don’t.
All I know is that this great club needs to pull through. The fans don’t know what way to turn. Some feel obliged to back the share issue, while others feels it’s a waste of time. That is a decision for each individual to make based on how they feel personally.
I’ve had my fears about the running of the club for some time, particularly after Campbell Ogilvie’s departure left us without a senior managerial figure who knows Scottish football, but now it’s reached genuine crisis point.
Hearts have been here before under other regimes and we’ve survived and I’m convinced we’ll find a way of doing so again this time. No matter who the owners are, the supporters have always been a constant and their loyalty can help ensure the club’s longevity one way or another.
There will be many fans now deliberating over whether it would be better for the club just to bite the bullet and go into administration – assuming that’s an option, of course – or to just keep milling along from one financial difficulty to the next. The concern is that, even if people back the share issue and we do pull through in the short term, how long will it be till we’re back in the same position?
You wonder if it would be best just to face up to the worst-case scenario now and then trying to bounce back, rather than just plodding along and trying to delay it for another few months. The club may be making welcome efforts to be more transparent, but in the share brochure, there was no mention of this new £450,000 tax bill, which suggests the club had no knowledge of it at the time. If that is the case, it could very well be that they have no awareness of one or two other situations hanging over the club and that we just lurch from one calamity to the next.
It is a hugely contentious issue, but there are plenty people better placed than I to decide what the best course of action is.
Either way, we need new ownership to prosper long term. We’ve had some successful times under the present regime, but, long-term, we need to be looking to get the Hearts community or the Edinburgh business community involved in the running of the club. That’s the way forward.
The problem is how we get someone to pay the club’s valuation when it is saddled with £24 million of debt and has average crowds of only 12-14,000. That’s why I feel administration might be the way to go.
Regardless of whether fans want to buy shares or not, what is not in doubt is that we need to try and get the ground filled for our next few home games. Everyone who cares for this great club needs to rally together and support the solid hardcore of fans who turn up every week, as well as the players who have somehow kept going throughout the difficult times over the past year and a bit.
It’s a huge time of indecision for the players and managers. They’re already used to getting paid late, but they’ll be wondering if they’re going to get paid at all now given that the latest developments have come at a time when we’re in the midst of a three-week period without the income of a home game.
My heart goes out to the players and my fellow supporters. And then there’s John McGlynn, who has been thrown in at the deep end probably not realising quite how grave things have been behind the scenes. Like Paulo Sergio before him, though, John is a safe pair of hands and hopefully the people round about him continue to support him through this difficult period.
Heart of Midlothian is a proud institution of Scottish football and a huge part of Edinburgh history. It is a proud, dignified and classy football club, but perhaps those last three features have been absent from the off-field side of things over the past few years.
We need to somehow get that class, dignity and pride back and prevent Scottish football being further dragged through the mud in the wake of the Rangers situation.
All we can concern ourselves with now is what is going to be a very tough period for anyone who cares about Hearts. We just have to hope that everyone rallies together and that the board and senior management are transparent with us, as they have promised.
Heart of Midlothian have played a massive part in my 48 years on this planet and I want it to remain a part of other peoples’ lives in future generations, so anything I can do to help – that I agree with, of course – I would do in a heartbeat.