Ann Budge insists Hearts will have sufficient funds to pay for Tynecastle’s redevelopment after the cost of the new main stand rose to £15 million.
A group of anonymous benefactors have given the club owner an extra £1.5m towards the project. They had initially donated £3m but will now contribute £4.5m in total by the time work is finished at Tynecastle in summer 2018.
The rebuild was initially expected to cost £12m, a figure later revised to £14m, but Budge told shareholders at yesterday’s annual general meeting that the total will reach £15m.
She plans to use extra revenue generated by Hearts to make up the extra £1m and moved to reassure anyone concerned about the rising cost.
“I think the stand is now going to cost £15 million. The funding is secured,” stated Budge. “I had a number of different funding sources identified at the beginning of the project.
“Our benefactors have been fantastic and increased their donations.
“Because the club has had a good year, our contributions make up some of that. We have a funding gap at the moment of about a million. Can the club contribute half a million? Yes, we can. Can we raise half a million with some initiatives going on? I genuinely believe we can.”
Budge thanked the benefactors for their generosity and praised fans who continue to pledge monthly cash to the club through Foundation of Hearts, which amounts to almost £1.5m per season.
“The benefactors’ contributions through to the end of the project are already in the bank account,” said the Edinburgh businesswoman. “The FoH contributions are as guaranteed as they can be. Those are the two main bits. I have absolutely no doubt the club can contribute and the supporters will continue to back us.
“The benefactors are a group of private people who just happen to love the club and love what’s going on here. They’ve been incredible.”
Budge told the AGM that the new stand will earn Hearts around an extra £1m income per year. She added that the board have the use of a £1.75m loan facility to help with costs and are intending to use at least some of those funds over the winter months.
There are no plans at the moment to rename the new stand through sponsorship but that could happen in future.
Hearts hope to replace the Tynecastle pitch next summer with a hybrid surface like Murrayfield. Budge explained that the price for this will be between £850,000 and £1m.
Manager Craig Levein also addressed the AGM and said he expects another six or eight youth academy players to sign professional contracts with the Edinburgh club next summer. That follows the progress of 16-year-olds Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald into the first team this season.