HEARTS legends Gary Mackay and Scott Crabbe today launched a fighting fund aimed at saving their beloved club from extinction.
Fans are being encouraged to donate whatever monies they can to the “1874 Fighting Fund”, which Mackay hopes will work in tandem with Hearts’ own efforts to remain in business.
Mackay and Crabbe are signatories for the fund and already former Tynecastle players Paul Hartley, Gilles Rousset, Stephane Adam, Tosh McKinlay, Steven Pressley and George Cowie have vowed to donate. All money raised will be accounted for and held as emergency backing for Hearts now and in the future.
Both Mackay and Crabbe were startled to hear of their old club being threatened with closure last week after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs lodged a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill of £450,000. That has prompted them to initiate their own efforts to raise cash.
“I have spoken to a lot of people and a lot of people don’t know what to do in terms of backing the club financially. Allied to a few ex-team-mates of mine at Hearts, I am starting a fighting fund,” said Mackay. “We are not working against the club in any way, shape or form. The fighting fund will be looked after by the group and if the club needed money, we would work with them to pay bills or whatever.
“The key thing is that any supporters who back the fighting fund will know exactly where the money is going. I think there are a few supporters a bit perturbed by the fact that, just a day after John Robertson had told us all the club had vowed to be more transparent in relation to the share issue, they came out with news of the tax bill.
“Everybody has their own thoughts about how best to help the club, and our fighting fund would be looking to galvanise those fans who want to help the club but are unsure exactly where to hand their money. We want to raise funds to help the club both short-term and long-term and give them whatever help we can.
“It is probably aimed at those who are sceptical about donating straight to the club. It wouldn’t matter how much people want to donate, whether it’s £1 or £100, but what I will guarantee is that we will be 100 per cent transparent about where every penny goes.
“It might be that these funds aren’t needed by the club right now, it may be that they are used if the worst-case scenario were to come to pass further down the line. But as long as the money is going to do something positive for the club, then we will make the funds available.
“For example, if we heard that there was a bill to be paid to Newtongrange Star for the use of their ground for under-20 games, then that might be the kind of thing we would use the fund to go and pay. Hearts would just tell us what they needed the money for and, as long as it was being done in an open and transparent manner, we would oblige.”
Meanwhile, Hearts have rejected an offer of £500,000 from Rangers to clear the outstanding £800,000 owed by the Ibrox club for the transfers of Lee Wallace and David Templeton.
Rangers are due to pay £300,000 to Hearts by the end of this month as part of the deal which took Templeton to Glasgow in August this year. A further £500,000 is due next July, which is the final instalment of Wallace’s £1.5 million transfer in August 2011.
Hearts view the offer as “opportunism” by the Rangers chief executive Charles Green following the Edinburgh club’s urgent need for a cash injection to pay the aforementioned tax bill.