HEARTS managing director David Southern has issued an open letter to supporters urging them to seize their moment and back the Foundation of Hearts’ bid for control.
Having pledged monthly money to the fans’ umbrella group himself back at the start of July, Southern is imploring Hearts followers to do likewise and help ensure the club’s future belongs to its public.
Southern could find himself a casualty of any new regime at Tynecastle but that has not stopped him asking fans to do what he feels is right. Foundation of Hearts were named preferred bidder for the Edinburgh club earlier this month and remain hopeful of agreeing a CVA, which would bring the administration period to an end.In a letter published today for the first time by the Evening News, Southern called on Hearts fans to get behind the Foundation’s plan to run the club through a monthly membership scheme. He labelled the current opportunity for fan ownership as “another defining moment in the history of the club”.
Pledges have risen since Saturday’s win over Aberdeen, during which the Foundation chairman Ian Murray addressed supporters and thanked them for their efforts. There are now well over 7000 pledges via www.foundationofhearts.org.
Plans are in place to begin direct debit drawdowns next Monday, September 2, and Southern wants everyone who values Hearts’ future to show their support.
His letter read: “Dear Supporter, as managing director of Heart of Midlothian Football Club, I believe that we as supporters now have a golden opportunity to secure the future of the club for many generations to come.
“With the announcement that the Foundation of Hearts in association with every key independent supporter organisation has secured preferred bidder status and broken through the 7000 member mark, we are on the verge of creating another defining moment in the history of the club. This year is the eve of the 100th anniversary of the greatest team ever to wear maroon and I can think of no better tribute to that team than for us all to have secured the future of Hearts by the time we celebrate such a significant anniversary.
“The magnitude of our 1914 team’s commitment and ultimate sacrifice can never be over stated. They stepped forward when the risk was greatest and because of them – and thousands of other brave men and women including many Hearts supporters and shareholders – we have the luxury of watching Heart of Midlothian play football today.
“I have said before that while we may not have the sporting success of the Real Madrids, Barcelonas and Manchester Uniteds of this world, we do have a history every bit as rich.
“Every one of us has enjoyed the highs of the Scottish Cup wins, Champions League qualification, regular European competition, the associated big nights at Tynecastle, and that unforgettable record-equalling league win run. That hugely successful chapter has closed and we are now opening a new chapter in the club’s history.
“The departure of the former owner and board presents an opportunity to establish certainty and stabilise the club for future generations. We are now being asked to step forward when our club needs us most. There is a ‘cost’ but, in my own view, it is negligible when compared to the cost of not securing the club now.
“This is our moment. If we hesitate, it may not just be the moment that is gone.
“Hearts is a club of the people, it always has been. If anyone ever needed proof of that it has been demonstrated time and time again particularly in recent months, and not simply in financial terms. As Hearts supporters you can rightly take pride in how you do things, not just what you do.
“I know I speak on behalf of the staff at Tynecastle when I thank you for your on-going efforts to secure a more stable future for the club. The dignity shown throughout such trying times is as valuable as any sum of money that has been raised.
“For this reason, it is only right that you are now in pole position to take ownership of the club.
“Most of you reading this will have been amongst the 100,000 people who celebrated Hearts’ historic Scottish Cup final victory on the streets of Edinburgh in May last year, that’s more than welcomed Chelsea back from their Champions League final success. Imagine harnessing even ten per cent of that support within an ownership model that has as its overriding priority safeguarding the very future of our club.
“Ownership of Heart of Midlothian Football Club brings significant responsibility. It is not something to be treated lightly and the Foundation of Hearts recognises this. They put this at the top of their agenda. For that reason and the other principles laid out in their vision, I would encourage any supporter of this club who can, but may not have already done so, to pledge your support at www.foundationofhearts.org.
“And I can assure those who are committed to the club that even within the tough operating environment of Scottish football, the new owners of Heart of Midlothian Football Club will benefit from excellent work that has been done by the staff here to ensure the business can operate sustainably. The underlying business fundamentals are good and, under the right ownership, there is no reason why Hearts should not remain as one of the biggest and potentially most successful clubs in Scottish football.
“Forever Hearts. Yours sincerely, David Southern, managing director.”