Hearts have launched a share initiative which could ultimately lead to supporter ownership.
The club has endured cashflow problems leading to the widely-publicised late payment of salaries on several occasions, but the share offer, which opens tomorrow morning, could see the club benefit to the tune of £1.79million if fully subscribed. Each share costs 11 pence and if they are all sold, it would see supporters taking control of ten per cent of the club’s shares.
Given majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov’s continued desire to offload the club, the share issue, while aimed at raising funds in the short term, could pave the way for fan ownership of the club, according to Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas.
“It is a very important moment in Hearts’ history where supporters are invited to express their interest and secure the future of the club,” Fedotovas told the Hearts website.
“Now Hearts needs its supporters more than ever and we count on this appeal being heard and supported.
“If this first share offer is successful we believe that future proposals could be considered that may eventually allow for Hearts supporters to take over the club entirely.
“Every pound raised by supporters, after costs, will be reinvested into the club.”
Revenue raised by the share scheme will be used “in meeting general working capital requirements”.
In a statement, Hearts said: “UBIG, the Lithuanian conglomerate chaired by Vladimir Romanov, has approved the offer by the 2012 William Hill Scottish Cup winners that could see the supporters of the club control over ten per cent of the total shares.
“The share offer is the first that provides supporters at Hearts with a chance to invest in the club since the takeover by UBIG in 2005.
“One of the key areas for the funding will be to meet the club’s continued focus on developing the best young players to reach the highest levels in the game. Revenue raised will also go, as required, in meeting general working capital requirements.”
The offer will close on December 19, with Hearts suggesting shareholders could benefit from free tickets, discounted season tickets, priority bookings, event discounts, signed merchandise and hospitality offers.
The club currently has 4000 ordinary shareholders.