FOURTEEN backroom staff at Heart of Midlothian have been made redundant – nine full-time and five part-time.
• Fourteen staffhave been made redundant at Hearts
• Unconfirmed reports suggest John Sutton, Jamie MacDonald, Ryan Stevenson and Jamie Hamill most at risk
The jobs of four unnamed players – two seniors and two from the youth team – are also “likely” to go, according to administrators BDO. Unconfirmed reports suggest that John Sutton, Jamie MacDonald, Ryan Stevenson and Jamie Hamill could be most at risk.
They insisted, however, that their aim was to get the club back on its feet and said they would succeed provided around 3,000 more supporters bought season tickets in the coming fortnight.
Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch, jointly in charge of the salvage operation along with BDO colleague James Stephen, admitted the situation at Tynecastle was “desperate” because there was no cash at present. But the two also said they were confident that the fan base was large enough to get the club back on its feet – and insisted that they would not take a fee for their work until it was sold. “It is never easy to make people redundant, but the choices were stark,” Jackson said. “Without some immediate job losses the club would be unable to operate in the coming weeks. Even with these cuts the club can only be saved if the fans become involved.
“The truth is that there is no cash and no money is due to the club. But I believe that if the fans rally round and support the club then we should be able to prevent any further redundancies and keep the team together.
“There were 10,000 season tickets sold last year and 7,000 already sold (which will be honoured by the administrators) for the coming season. If we can match last year’s season-ticket sales and sell a further 3,000 season tickets within the next 14 days then we will have sufficient funds to last the next four months and retain the remainder of the playing squad. I believe that by keeping the squad together the fans will retain confidence in the club and it will make the team a more attractive proposition for any potential buyers.”
Jackson, who is also currently trying to take Dunfermline Athletic out of administration, said he was aware of the efforts already made by the Hearts support to keep their club afloat. More than £1 million was
raised late last year through a share issue and related ventures, and many of those who have bought season tickets in recent days did so after a last appeal by the old management for more funds.
He said he would understand if supporters were unable or unwilling to put more money in, but emphasised the importance of their role in reviving the club. “We’ve got to be honest, it’s as desperate as anything I’ve seen. To arrive in June, with no income anyway, and you also have 7,000 season tickets already sold – it doesn’t get much worse than that. But the positive side of it is we all know there’s a huge fanbase here. However, if fans don’t support their club in the next week, then it sends a strong signal they have had enough, or don’t physically have the money. That’s why we’re also suggesting to those fans who have already bought a season ticket that, if they can afford it, buy another and give it to a friend.
“If fans want to donate, organise a fundraising event, or contribute financially in any other way to the club then, be assured, that this will also help fund the club in the coming months. I appreciate that this is a lot to ask, but there has already been widespread support from the fans and from the community and we need to translate this into action to raise funds. I guarantee that this money will be used solely to fund wages and for the continued running of the club. This gives the fans, who I know have given repeatedly to the club over the last few years, the chance to be directly involved in saving their club.”
If enough money is forthcoming to keep the club afloat over the summer, BDO foresee reaching a Company Voluntary Arrangement within three or four months. For that to happen there would need to be an offer on the table to them, which they could then persuade Hearts’ two main creditors to accept. Ukio Bankas, itself now in administration, is owed £15million; UBIG, which is likely to follow, is owed £10m.
BDO have already spoken to two interested parties. One is the Foundation of Hearts, the united supporters’ group. The identity of the other has not been revealed.
“The cost-cutting and the fundraising from the season-ticket sales will provide sufficient cashflow to provide enough time for interested parties to approach us to prepare for the implementation of a CVA,” Jackson added. “I believe that this club, which has such a proud and famous past, is now facing the most difficult fight of its life. We need the community and the city to get involved in keeping Hearts alive as time is not on our side. The appointment of an administrator is only the start of the process to keep Hearts football team going and that without the fans support the future hangs in the balance.”