Heart of Midlothian plc
Minutes of the 114th Annual General Meeting
Heritage Suite, Tynecastle Stadium – 11am
17 December 2020
(Closed AGM because of pandemic restrictions)
CLICK HERE to read the Chairman's AGM Statement
Ann Budge – Chair
Andrew McKinlay – Chief Executive
Jacqui Duncan – Director / Company Secretary
Kevin Windram – Director
Via Zoom Call:
Stuart Wallace – Director
Donald Cumming – Director
1. Welcome & Introduction
Chair & Chief Executive Ann Budge welcomed those present to the 114th Annual General Meeting and delivered her Chairman’s Statement.
The formal part of the AGM was then progressed.
2. Ordinary Resolutions
The Company Secretary noted that all proxy votes had been collated by the Company’s registrars, Equiniti and would form part of the final voting numbers. For all those present at the AGM, the vote was to be conducted by Poll Cards. This method of voting was seen as best practice. Equiniti, the Company’s registrars had been appointed to act as scrutineers.
Poll cards were duly completed for each resolution.
In accordance with the Notice of the AGM the following resolutions were considered and passed:
1. The Company’s annual accounts and directors’ and auditors’ reports for the year ended 30 June 2020 were approved.
2. Andrew John McKinlay was appointed as a director of the Company.
3. Ann Cochrane Cook Wallace Budge was reappointed as a director of the Company.
4. Stuart Robert Wallace was reappointed as a director of the Company.
5. Jacqueline Duncan was reappointed as a director of the Company.
6. Johnston Carmichael was reappointed as auditors of the Company.
7. The directors were given the authorisation to determine the remuneration of the auditors.
This concluded the formal part of the meeting.
3. Q & A Session
The following questions were received in advance of the AGM via the email set up specifically for this purpose. The Chair delivered the questions to those present. They, along with the answers provided are documented below:
Q1 - While there is still a long way to go before we are over the Covid 19 virus, the Board is to be congratulated, together with the support of our benefactors and supporters, particularly our season ticket holders, that the June 2020 Accounts show that the Club has indeed coped well during the extremely difficult and unique circumstances that 2020 has thrown at us.
Given the above, the effects of Covid 19 are still with us. What are the most serious issues that Hearts and Scottish football will face over the next twelve months?
A1 - Ann Budge: There are many serious issues impacting both Hearts and Scottish football as a whole. The most serious issue facing everyone is the lack of fans allowed in stadia. Ticket income is the lifeblood of Scottish Clubs and without that, the majority of Clubs face a challenging future.
Q2 - Following the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer, are there any plans to make more appointments to the Board. Ann has talked about appointing a Sporting Director or a Director of Football. Is that still work in progress?
A2 - Ann Budge: As explained in my Chairman’s Statement, our new Sporting Director was appointed earlier this week. We are delighted to have Joe Savage onboard. Joe will join the Executive Board of the Club and will report to the Main Board.
We will continue to strengthen the Main Board as needed as we further grow and develop the business.
Q3 - We have a wonderful new Stand now at Tynecastle giving us one of the great stadiums in the country. There is still a lot of unused space within the new stand, and we wonder if there are any plans to utilise this space, in particular to create an income stream. Is there a case for appointing a specialised person on the Board to manage this property space?
A3 - Ann Budge: It has always been the plan to develop the 2nd Floor in a manner that will generate income. As we have said in the past, the return on investment generated from the current Main Stand infrastructure is required to contribute to this development. Clearly the COVID situation has delayed our progress here. That said, the impact of the pandemic on other businesses have presented different possibilities for the use of this space. An appropriately skilled working party will be put together when the time is right to proceed further.
Q4 - Many of the Scottish football clubs in Scotland are, due to Covid 19, struggling financially more than ever, and therefore have had to make financial cuts to run their football academies due to all the regulations and problems with Covid 19. Given the importance of this part of the Club in developing future First Team Players and creating wealth for the Club has there been any radical changes in the structures in place at Hearts Academy?
A4 - Ann Budge: There have been no changes at the Academy other than those required to deal with furlough. We are totally committed to youth development and this continues to be a key part of our strategy. We are not planning to cut back in this area at all.
Q5 - A question for Robbie. You came back to the Club at a very difficult time. How happy are you with the progress made so far? Do you plan to make many more changes to the squad? How will it feel to lead Hearts out in a Scottish Cup Final? How will it feel to be a Scottish Cup winning Manager?
A5 - Robbie Neilson (responded post the AGM):
You came back to the Club at a very difficult time. How happy are you with the progress made so far? - I’m happy with the progress the squad has made since returning in August. We always aim for perfection but have to realise that there will be disappointments along the way that we have to recover from and continue to move forward as a club. Creating a winning mentality in the group has been our main objective and one that we are continually trying to develop. I believe we now have a group of players that expect to win every game and are fighting for the club and each other. We still have a long way to go but I believe we are heading in the right direction.
Do you plan to make many more changes to the squad? - January is always a difficult window to bring in the quality required to improve the squad however we are working hard to add a couple of players that will give the squad a boost going into the new year. A number of our younger players will go out on loan in the January window to give them competitive experience in preparation of joining the 1st team squad next season.
How will it feel to lead Hearts out in a Scottish Cup Final? - Leading Hearts out at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final will be the highlight of my coaching career to date. As a young player you dream of winning the Scottish Cup and it’s no different as a coach. Following in the footsteps of some great managers in leading Hearts out at Hampden Park will be a huge honour.
How will it feel to be a Scottish Cup winning Manager? - To be a cup winning manager would be great personally but the biggest feeling of achievement for myself will be playing a part in helping the players to become cup winners. They are the ones that will play the game and they are the ones that will be remembered in years to come as winners. There’s no better feeling as a coach than helping a player achieve success.
Q6 - The SPFL has hardly covered itself in glory in 2020 both in original thinking, finding fair and just solutions to issues they have had to face and, indeed, unsuccessful in raising finance from lucrative TV and commercial sponsorship deals. Is it time now to look at radical plans on how Scottish football is run by looking at the structures currently in place at the SFA and SPFL?
Given we have a fabulous stadium in one of Europe’s great cities, is it time to move away from Scotland and maybe look at playing in a Northern European League for example? UEFA, Scandinavian countries and Belgium, Netherlands etc may be interested. Playing successfully in the English Leagues could be very lucrative.
A6 - Ann Budge: In connection with the SFA & SPFL, yes - I think we have demonstrated over recent months that we believe change is required.
As we have previously said, we believe there will be a number of changes in the European football landscape. Indeed we have already seen this with the introduction of the Nations League. We will keep close to all developments in Europe.
Q7 - Hearts' ongoing efforts to develop their Women's Team are commendable. Would it be possible for the Club to encourage some additional parity between the Women's and Men's squads by making simple changes to the Club website that bring some more consistency to the way in which each squad is presented?
A7 - Ann Budge: Absolutely. We do want to give parity to the Women’s and Men’s squads and have already started that process, although as stated we have a long way to go. We know we have lots more to do on the Women’s front. Some of what is suggested by this question is already being addressed. Other elements will require additional resources. There are website changes planned for early in the New Year, which will give more exposure to Women’s football.
Q8 - Can you provide an update on when the level 2 area in the main stand will be finished and what is the current cost so far on the new main stand being built?
A8 - Ann Budge: The level 2 update has been covered in question 3 above.
The current cost of the Tynecastle Redevelopment project is fully disclosed in the 2020 statutory accounts at £20.9m. This includes all major capex undertaken from late 2016 through to June 2020.
Q9 - Any possibility of electronic scoreboards being installed at both ends of the ground. Gorgie Road end and Roseburn Stand (like the ones at Southampton FC)?
A9 - Ann Budge: Many of you will have heard me say before that this is a matter dear to my heart. Electronic scoreboards are very much on our ‘to-do’ list. However, in the current climate we have to manage all spend carefully and this is not at the top of our priority list.
Q10 - Is the Alloa result in the league cup the worst result since Hearts being putting out the Scottish Cup by Forfar Athletic in 1982 and do the players care?
A10 - Ann Budge: The Alloa result was disappointing, no question. I can absolutely assure you that the players do care very much. They are professionals and are committed to the success of the Club.
Q11 - When can football fans get back into the ground and see some live football in Scotland. As peoples wellbeing is being damaged here. I believe the SRU are looking of a 5000 crowd for the Edinburgh v Glasgow game, 10,000 for a Pro 14 game in January and 25,000 fans allowed for Scotland games v Wales, Ireland and Italy.
A11 - Ann Budge: Unfortunately, this is very much out of our control. We need to be guided by the Government on this one. We are very keen to get fans back into the stadium and are geared up to do so at the very earliest opportunity. However, health and safety must come first. We therefore have to await more Government guidance on this as indeed does Rugby.
Q12 - In terms of the tenement with the grey harling in McLeod Street. I thought this tenement was going to be painted with murals and act as focal point.
Is this going ahead or are there no plans for this.
A12 - Ann Budge: The building is undergoing major renovation works and is partly covered by scaffolding at present. These works need to be completed before any mural painting can begin. We have a design approved and ready to go but we cannot progress until we know the building is sound.
Q13 - Firstly, thank you to you and all the employees of the club for their hard work during this very difficult year.
Has the board considered signing up for the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework? What measures and process are being put in place to reduce the clubs environmental impact?
A13 - Ann Budge: We are always looking for ways to reduce the club’s environmental impact. A number of areas have been progressed through liaison with our waste management partners. This is an area we will continue to focus on in the future. We have not signed up for the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework but will investigate this further.
The meeting was formally closed at 1pm.