Club News

Summary of AGM questions

19th December 2014

Further coverage from the latest Hearts annual general meeting.

As per the previous website article regarding the club’s latest Annual General Meeting, the following is a summary of questions asked at the AGM.

 

Q1

Receiving the 2014 Accounts two days before the AGM is unacceptable – can we please ensure that in future these are available well in advance of the AGM?

A1

Ann Budge

Agreed - logistically it was difficult to get the 2014 accounts signed off, printed and distributed within the required notice period this year, largely because we were dealing with a backlog of both the 2013 and 2014 accounts.

Totally agree, however, that going forward the accounts will be delivered more timeously and within the required notice period.

 

 

Q2

Formal thank you given to Ann Budge personally and to the Board for the work they are doing with the Club.

Clarification sought from auditors Johnston Carmichael regarding the ‘going concern’ emphasis of matter in the 2014 Accounts – does this relate to the position at 30 June 2014 and will the same concerns likely exist in 2015?

A2

Scott Holmes – Johnston Carmichael

Considerable discussion has taken place about this ‘emphasis of matter’ – it really relates to the reliance of the company on the FOH monies (£1.4m in Years 1 and 2). The company requires this financing to break even within the next 12 months. The position will be reviewed again at the end of June 2015.

Ann Budge

Confirmed the importance of the continuation of monies from FOH.

 

 

Q3

Further congratulations to the Board on the progress made thus far.

What are the plans regarding the development of the stadium?

A3

Ann Budge

An investigative process will commence in 2015 to look at the various options available.  The Board will ensure that shareholders are kept up to date with progress.

 

 

Q4

Following recent issues over the behaviour of the Celtic support, how do the Board plan to deal with this going forward, on the assumption that Hearts will be in the Premiership next season and therefore be involved in more matches of this nature? Will we limit the number of tickets available to Celtic?

A4

Ann Budge

Behaviour at home requires to be improved also – recent events did not just involve Celtic fans.

This is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. We may consider limiting ticket availability to travelling fans if demand from our own fans merits this.

 

 

Q5

Can we limit the numbers of away supporters?

A5

Scot Gardiner

We have to offer away support a ‘reasonable’ number of tickets for league matches (Cup matches are more defined) - so we do have some latitude in this area.

 

 

Q6

Thanks to the Board from the Shareholders’ Association regarding the sorting out of the 2012 Share Issue.

Are we now financially stable? Will it be possible to invest in new players in the transfer window in January?

 

A6

Ann Budge

We are financially stable with a continued reliance on FOH monies as stated before. Should Craig and Robbie identify someone they feel would make a difference and he is available at the right price, we will be very supportive.

Craig Levein

Agreed with AB – we will establish any ‘need’ at that stage and endeavour to get the right players for the right price.

 

 

Q7

Would you consider bringing in new equity to fund the stadium plans?

A7

Ann Budge

Not immediately planning to do this. The situation will be evaluated and actions taken in full consultation with the fans and FOH in due course.

 

 

Q8

Has the board built in any contingencies within the accounts to deal with things should the team not progress as expected?

 

Ann Budge

Yes it is good business practice to do this. Once again FOH money is essential – it may not be required for working capital as such but will be reinvested in the club.

 

 

Q9

Bringing Hearts hospitality in-house has been a success - are you planning to do the same with the shop?

A9

Ann Budge

The franchise agreement re the shop ends in 2016 – we will review the position well in advance of this date, with any decision taken, being based on what is best for the club.

 

 

Q10

Big Hearts is important for the ongoing development of the Club – is the Club prepared to support them financially?

A10

Ann Budge

Discussions with Jim Panton, Chief Executive of Big Hearts, has indicated that Big Hearts does not expect Hearts to support them financially.

Alan White, previously with Big Hearts, will be joining Craig’s team in January and the club will be funding the community-based footballing activities. We expect these to be self-funded through grant income as at present.

 

 

Q11

The Museum is an excellent idea – will this be self-financing?

A11

Ann Budge

The museum is intended to be self-financing.

Eric Hogg

A feasibility study has commenced with 3 options being costed out. We have also received support from various Hearts supporters’ associations to help us with this project.

 

 

Q12

Are you planning to revert the company to ‘Limited’ status as ‘plc’ status seems most inappropriate?

A12

Ann Budge

Yes – at some stage. This will involve discussions with the Takeover Panel and will be a complicated process, not without cost. However, it does need to be done pre transfer of shares in order to avoid the cost of another public offer.

 

 

 

Q13

Has there been any interest in any of our players re the forthcoming January transfer window?

A13

Craig Levein

No interest expressed at present. If there is any interest, in due course we will give it our full consideration.

 

 

Q14

Can you get Lottery Income for the museum?

A14

Ann Park

Yes we should qualify for ‘Heritage Status’ and we will be investigating this further.

 

 

Q15

Any developments on Jason Holt’s contract?

A15

Craig Levein

It’s not appropriate to discuss individual player’s contracts but suffice to say we need to ensure appropriate coverage on the pitch and appropriate player / agent discussions will be had as required. There will be player movement and this will be done after full consideration and in the best interests of the club.

 

 

Q16

Request from FOH representative to encourage fans to subscribe. Maintaining FOH income is key.

A16

No answer required.

 

 

Q17

Does Robbie Neilson use the aspirations of other clubs as his motivation?

A17

Craig Levein

Robbie is one of the most hard-working and professional managers in Scotland – highly motivated, he prefers to focus on what is going on at our own club rather than on the commentary of others.

 

 

Q18

Ann – how have you been treated by other clubs?

A18

Ann Budge

On the whole well - other clubs are generally very polite.

 

 

Q19

Do Hearts have any aspirations to play in Europe?

A19

Ann Budge / Craig Levein

Yes we should be striving to do this.

 

 

Q20

Written Question Received: Can you explain how the FOH income will be spent?

A20

Ann Budge

No! All sources of income (season tickets, hospitality, retail, etc) are utilised to provide working capital in accordance with the business plan and needs of the club.       

I believe this has been covered by this morning’s presentations.

 

 

Q21

Written Question Received: How much will it cost FOH to buy Hearts?

A21

Ann Budge

In my opinion, the appropriate way to view this is that the cost of purchase is £2.5m (i.e. what Bidco paid for the club) plus interest on the capital loan. It is important to understand that the first 2 years of FOH monies are working capital contributions and not part of any purchase agreement.

 

 

Q22

Written Question Received: When will the backlog of Annual Returns be up to date?

A22

Jacqui Duncan

The Annual Return will be completed this week – we had to wait to obtain an up-to-date Share Register position following the sorting out of the 2012 share issue. (Post-meeting note: this has now been completed).

 

Answers to questions submitted electronically and not discussed at the AGM will follow soon.