FOUNDATION of Hearts chairman Ian Murray has resigned from the fan group and the Tynecastle board due to his political commitments.
The Foundation will name Brian Cormack chairman in his place and a new fan representative will be chosen to fill the void in the Hearts boardroom.
Murray’s work schedule has intensified after he became the only Labour MP to win his seat in Scotland at the recent general election. He has since been named as the party’s shadow Scottish secretary. He decided to stand down from the Foundation to allow for new leadership, admitting his busy political diary meant he could no longer do the role justice.
Cormack, the Foundation’s vice-chairman, joined the Hearts board earlier this month and will replace Murray as FoH chairman at the end of June. The change also means Hearts will seek another Foundation member to join their board and maintain the quota of two fan representatives in the club’s boardroom.
Murray stressed that his involvement with Foundation of Hearts has been “one of the greatest pleasures of my life”. The group intend to take control of Hearts from current owner Ann Budge by 2019 and are backed by cash pledges from more than 8000 supporters, which help fund Hearts on a monthly basis.
Murray explained his reasons for resigning: “Since my re-election I have taken on a number of senior responsibilities that will reduce the spare time I have available to dedicate to other interests,” he said in a statement.
“I have, after much soul-searching, taken the decision that the FoH requires a new chair and director that can give maximum attention to continuing to grow the membership and preparing the organisation for full supporter ownership. I’m very proud to have been part of a team who helped to own the history and shape the future. Generations of future Jambos who put their hard-earned money in to save the club will look back on these times and say ‘we did that’.”
Cormack, one of the founding members of FoH, commended Murray’s work as chairman. Murray was heavily involved in bringing the club out of administration last year and has helped Budge and the Foundation work together.
“I want to pay tribute to the work Ian has done as chair of the Foundation over the last two years,” said Cormack. “This has been a hugely challenging time and Ian’s diplomatic, strategic and oratory skills, as well as his leadership and his passion for the club, have been absolutely superb.
“He has been at the front of a mass movement which has, in partnership with Ann Budge, saved this great club and laid the foundations for the future. We understand why he is standing down at this time and thank him for his tireless commitment and the many skills he has brought to this cause.”
Cormack outlined the healthy position Hearts now find themselves in a year after emerging from administration and with fans playing a crucial part. “We have recently and successfully completed year one of a five-year plan to stabilise the club and pave the way for the transition to fan ownership,” he said.
“We will, of course, miss Ian’s skills but we have a strong and very energetic board which is working closely with Ann Budge and her team. Our priority in this next phase of our development will be to continue to build the Foundation membership in order to provide the vital financial support which underpins the club’s effective and excellent management, and to develop the strategy for how the club will be managed at the end of year five.”
Budge expressed regret that Murray has decided to sever ties with the Foundation and, in turn, with the Hearts board. “I fully understand why Ian has come to this decision and want to thank him for everything he has done for both the Foundation and the club,” she said. “He has made a valuable contribution to the Hearts board – from which he will, of course, also be standing down at the end of June. A second Foundation director will be appointed to the Hearts board to maintain the level of Foundation representation and ensure the terms of the agreement are met.”
The vacancy on the Foundation of Hearts board will be filled from the membership at the AGM later this year. “This is a time of change but we are, thanks to the supporters, in a fantastic position,” continued Cormack. “Together – from an unshakeably positive foundation – we move into a new phase with renewed vigour and commitment.”