Ann Budge reveals two big plans for Hearts as she prepares to stay at least two more years
Ann Budge will remain Hearts chairwoman for at least the next two years to complete Tynecastle Park’s main stand and help the club return to European competition.
The 73-year-old passed her 75.1 per cent majority shareholding to supporters via Foundation of Hearts on Monday, but she still has unfinished business in Gorgie.
She will continue to chair the board with two key aspirations in mind – firstly the £22million stadium redevelopment. “I’ve committed to two years and beyond that I think I can still add value and if the fans still want me, I’ll take it from there. But we all know how old I am so maybe in two years time it will be time for me to back out,” she said.
“I need to finish the main stand because it’s not quite finished. That’s high on my list, as are a number of improvements to the stadium.
“I also want to do our best to get to where we almost got to two years ago – repeatedly at the top of the Premiership and playing in Europe.
“In my tenure we’ve only been in Europe once and we were not particularly successful. I would like to have another bash and make it more successful.
“I think it’s essential but because of the changes within European football where there are more competitions, more opportunity, I think it’s effectively more doable. I absolutely want to change that, it’s what all the fans want. We all want to be in Europe. It’s what the players want and it’s a stamp of success.”
Reaching the group stage of even UEFA’s third-tier tournament, the new Europa Conference League, carries a guaranteed windfall of £2.75million.
“We’ve all got to fight for that because it makes such a big difference to any club. When we qualified for Europe a few years ago, at that level you lose money more than you make it because of the costs involved. You really have to be successful in Europe to hit the high notes and get the millions coming in.”
Budge expects manager Robbie Neilson to sign more players before Tuesday night’s transfer deadline. “I hope so. The trouble is every time I speak to Robbie it’s ‘maybe another one’. There will definitely be one but there might be two,” added Budge.