Hearts fans groups quit Foundation

Ann Budge. Pic: SNS
Ann Budge. Pic: SNS
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Four key Hearts supporter groups today resigned from Foundation of Hearts following the recent regime change at Tynecastle.

Stressing that they want the Foundation to evolve, representatives from the Hearts Supporters’ Trust, the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders’ Association and the Hearts Youth Development Committee stood down from the Foundation board.

Ann Budge became the club’s majority shareholder last Friday and has a contract to transfer ownership to the Foundation within five years to facilitate fan ownership. The Evening News has learned that agreement stipulates only four people should be on the Foundation board going forward – existing directors Ian Murray MP, Brian Cormack and Garry Halliday, plus Alastair Bruce who is not currently involved.

Until now there had been nine board members but the four main groups have stepped back along with Dougie Masterton of Save Our Hearts. The fan groups can nominate one figure to represent them all on the Foundation board up until the first AGM, which is due to take place within the next three months. Foundation of Hearts currently has over 8000 members contributing money through monthly direct debits.

Henry Snedden, vice-chairman of the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, said: “It’s important to stress this has always been our plan. We’ve never been involved for ourselves, but for Hearts. We’re supporters first and always. We believe that the future composition of the Foundation of Hearts board must include our collective constituency of several thousand supporters, but that must happen through transparent democracy and be the will of the wider support. It is also absolutely imperative that the future Foundation of Hearts board has the right mix of talent and relevant experience. It needs to evolve quickly because the task of the last year is very different to the future. We hope Foundation of Hearts contributors will look very carefully at these matters as we move towards the first AGM.”

Bill Alves, chairman of the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders’ Association, said: “Hearts supporters are making the most significant group investment in Scottish football history, with £6m expected over the next five years. I’ve no doubt they will rise to the challenge and the Shareholders’ Association will support them in every way. We’ll also continue to represent the six per cent or so of ‘ordinary’ fans who have shares in Hearts.”

Calum Robertson, chairman of the Hearts Youth Development Committee (HYDC), said: “Our role has always been to support the work of what we feel is the best Academy in Scotland, a mission established by Joe Jordan in 1991. We’ve raised over half a million pounds in that time, and will continue to seek to support this vital work.

“We hope to have a productive relationship with the club as we’ve enjoyed – perhaps not a trend experienced by everyone else – in the last 20 years. Like my fellow supporter colleagues, we believe in the will of the fans. They’ve saved this club – nobody else. Individuals at all levels have come and gone and this will continue to happen. The one constant is not individuals, but Heart of Midlothian.”

Jane Lewis, secretary of the Hearts Supporters’ Trust, said: “We fundamentally believe in supporter ownership and it is extremely exciting to see this process now underway for Hearts. Having championed the concept for a decade we know the potential, and also the pitfalls, and so we urge supporters to play a meaningful part in the future of the Foundation. This happens now – not later. We all share great hope for a future as illustrious as our past.”

Ian Murray MP, Foundation of Hearts chairman, said: “I’ve always been aware that the groups wanted to act in the highest and best possible faith. They have acted professionally and with one purpose – to save their beloved Hearts.

“The decision was to have a smaller Foundation board but it is important to ensure that there is a clear link with the board and the constituted fans groups who do so much to support the club and represent the supporters.

“I look forward to them, once again, coming together to nominate a Foundation director to represent them all on the Foundation board.

“The bond, unity of purpose, and selflessness they’ve showed in helping unite the Foundation of Hearts campaign means, as far as I am concerned, Henry, Bill, Calum, Jane, and Dougie have taken their place in history. They are colleagues, they are friends, and their respective organisations are stronger for it. I, personally, cannot thank them enough for all the support.”