GARY LOCKE today urged any new owners to restore Hearts’ battered pride as Foundation of Hearts became the first group to submit a takeover bid for the Edinburgh club.
The Foundation lodged their offer with adminstrators BDO yesterday ahead of this afternoon’s 5pm deadline. Locke, the club’s manager, admitted he would be delighted to see the fan-led organisation gain control. Ultimately, he wants whoever is in charge to return Hearts to a position of respect within Scottish football after the onset of administration at Tynecastle.
“I would love to see the fans own the club, I really would,” Locke told the Evening News. “I’d also like to see a businessman with a bit of money own the club and run the club properly. The most important thing is that Heart of Midlothian get back to the club it was when I played here. It was well run, players got paid, the fans backed the team as always. If we get back to that, I’ll be over the moon.
“It was difficult these last two years but you have to remember the good times as well. I try to look at the positives. Obviously, it wasn’t ideal when we weren’t getting paid. Myself and all the players have mortgages to pay and families to look after. It wasn’t easy. I’m not going to sit here and slag anyone off. The situation wasn’t ideal but you learned to deal with it.
“I’m trying to look forward now and I want to get back to good ownership of the club, good players in the team and challenging at the right end of the table.”
As of this morning, BDO had yet to receive any other bids for Hearts. American-based Club 9 Sports were said to be preparing an offer, although other interested parties from Scandinavia and the UK have decided against bidding.
The Foundation’s offer aims to help Hearts exit administration through a Company Voluntary Arrangement to pay off creditors. The club owes Lithuanian companies Ukio Bankas and Ukio Bankas Investment Group £15million and £10m respectively.
Hearts will begin the new season minus 15 points as a result of entering administration, and Locke is currently trying to rally his players for the challenge of avoiding
“We are up against it trying to overhaul the 15 points, but we’ve got a better chance if we’re all together,” he continued. “The morale has been great. One thing I pride myself on is having a happy dressing-room with players enjoying coming to their work. Since we restarted training, the players are coming in with smiles on their faces. That’s something I feel is really important.”