Hearts AGM 'with a difference': James Anderson, Foundation of Hearts and Ann Budge's refusal to sing
“An AGM with a difference, a difference none of us really would have wanted” was how Hearts chairwoman Ann Budge described the 115th such event in the club’s history.
A smattering of shareholders spread across the upper sections of P and R in the Main Stand of Tynecastle Park, alongside the likes of club ambassador Gary Locke, board member and benefactor James Anderson and Foundation of Hearts chairman Stuart Wallace.
The meeting had been scaled back and moved from the Gorgie Suite at late notice due to the upturn in coronavirus cases with proof of vaccination checked on arrival.
Hearts had told shareholders the decision was taken following Nicola Sturgeon's announcement on Tuesday regarding the “rapid spread of the Omicron variant”.
Budge, who stood on the concourse facing up to the shareholders, said: “The board, myself, we all believe it is paramount we look after the wellbeing and safety of everybody. For that reason we are closely following the advice given by the First Minister.”
In turn, two key aspects of the normal AGM have been shelved until January, ideally in person but depending on the situation with the coronavirus it may have to be done virtually. That being the presentation reviewing the last 12 months and looking ahead to the future, plus “what can sometimes be quite an interactive Q&A” as Budge put it.
That meant the AGM was reduced to formal business with the agenda handed out featuring just four sections, two of which being the ‘chairman's welcome and closing remarks’. All in all, it lasted under ten minutes.
Yet, there was still important business to take care of, namely resolutions involving James Anderson and the Foundation of Hearts. Both helped the club turn a £2million profit with their donations.
The latter regarded the approval of the adoption of new articles of association of the company following the transfer of ownership to the Foundation earlier this year.
Budge said: “The changes effectively relate to changes required from the transfer of the controlling stake in the company from Bidco1874 to the Foundation of Hearts ltd. And in particular they dovetail in with contractual documentation that was agreed, put in place and signed on the 30th of August 2021 when we did the transfer.
“The changes have been worked on and provisionally agreed by the Foundation of Hearts already.”
Unsurprisingly it was approved and came into effect at the close of the meeting.
As for Anderson. The generous benefactor has supported the club financially over a number of years, as well as the game in Scotland in general. He joined the board in July and shareholders approved his appointment as director of Heart of Midlothian plc.
The approval prompted Budge to make a quip to Anderson.
She said: "Thank you, James. I’m sure you’re very relieved.”
The shareholders also backed the reappointments of Donald Cumming and Kevin Windram as directors of the company.
"All I can really do now is to thank those of you who have come along," Budge said in her closing remarks. “It’s probably a tough decision, life is difficult for everyone at the moment but thank you for making the effort.
“I was asked to sing a song to try lighten the whole thing but trust me you don't want to hear that.”