FOUNDATION of Hearts chairman Brian Cormack has revealed how supporters of other clubs are asking his group for advice on fan ownership.
The fans’ organisation generates £1.4million a year for the Tynecastle club and aims to break new ground in Scottish football by taking sole charge by 2019. Other supporters’ bodies are now looking to FoH for inspiration.
Saturday will see the Foundation join forces with The Well Society at Fir Park to champion fan ownership in football. Hearts will wear their iconic new third kit in the match against Motherwell for the first time - featuring a shirt which contains the names of all 8000 supporters who have pledged money to FoH.
The Well Society have formed a close bond with the Foundation and hope to become the majority shareholders at Motherwell by 2020. To do so, they need more fans to join up and pledge cash like Foundation members do.
Cormack explained that talks between FoH and fellow fan organisations at Rangers, St Mirren and Raith Rovers have also taken place. He outlined his pride at seeing many supporters look to Hearts as something of a benchmark after fans fought to help their club out of administration in 2014.
“Everybody can see it’s starting to work at Hearts. We’re one and a half years into a five-year agreement and the funds are coming in. We’re meeting the agreement that we signed,” said Cormack.
“Other clubs are looking at Foundation of Hearts as a model. For the past few months we’ve been very close to The Well Society. We’ve also talked to Rangers First, a St Mirren fans’ group, people at Raith Rovers. Anyone who wants to ask us questions, we’re willing to help.
“Clubs have contacted us asking to meet us. We’ve met all of these groups and tried to show what we’re doing. We’re sharing ideas but we’ve also taken some ideas from Motherwell as well.”
Cormack has also offered to help Hibernian Supporters Limited with ideas as they try to gain control at Easter Road on behalf of Hibs fans. “I was at a Supporters Direct event at Hampden and I spoke to HSL. I said they’d be welcome to come and talk to us. They haven’t yet but we’d be willing to speak to them, of course.”
Foundation of Hearts continue to operate with just over 8000 members, although Cormack would ideally like to see numbers grow if possible. Even with 8000 fans pledging cash every month, FoH are well on course to take control of the Edinburgh club from current owner Ann Budge inside the next three and a half years.
“We’ve been round about the 8000 mark for two years now,” said Cormack. “We’ve had maybe one per cent drop off, then one per cent rise the following month. It’s been incredible. We’ve been raising £1.4m a year and passing it to the club.
“I said when I became chairman that it would be great to reach 10,000. What we’ve also tried to do is get people to increase their pledge. Even with 8000 pledgers, we are on target to fulfil our agreement and more.
“Hearts weren’t lucky but we had that [administration] crisis and the fans put their money in. I think Motherwell are doing great. The size of their fanbase is less than Hearts, they’re trying to target 2000 and they’re on the way to doing that.”