Foundation of Hearts today thanked over 7600 supporters for their backing as they prepare to gain control of Hearts and fund the club until the end of the season.
The fans’ umbrella group are expected to complete their takeover by the end of April at the latest. The club’s administrators, BDO, have finalised a deal for Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG) to transfer their 50 per cent stake in Hearts to the Foundation. Added to 29.9 per cent of shares from Ukio Bankas, that would give supporters almost 80 per cent control.
The deal with UBIG must be passed at a creditors’ meeting before going to a Lithuanian court. BDO will press for that process to be completed before the end of March, although it may be April before the Foundation takes full ownership at Tynecastle.
BDO predict that Hearts’ cash reserves will run dry before April but the Foundation – having taken cash pledges from over 7600 fans for the last six months – can meet any shortfall. From the summer, they will use season ticket sales, sponsorship, TV revenue and pledges to run the club.
The Evening News revealed two weeks ago that a price of around £50,000 had been agreed for UBIG’s shares. With the deal now finalised, the Foundation are keen to recognise the commitment of the Hearts fans.
A Foundation spokesperson said: “We’ve reached this critical milestone because of our supporters. The effort, drive and sheer will to save Hearts has been remarkable, even if we knew they would stand up and be counted.
“The battle is not over, and nobody should be under any illusions there is work to be done to complete the agreement, and then a great deal more to get Hearts back to a stable position. It will take time.
“Having said that, we acknowledge the supporters. We can turn this heartache into a triumph and this pain into something with purpose, and it is entirely because of them.
“We also thank the Evening News, who have stood steadfastly behind the campaign. Now we focus on yet more meetings and negotiations to get the sale and purchase agreement. In the meantime, we do still need more monthly contributors.
“Any supporter who has not signed up, and who is able to do so, is now encouraged as strongly as we possibly can to set up a direct debit at www.foundationofhearts.org”