To: Hearts Supporters Everywhere
Good afternoon everyone.
I am conscious that you will all be very aware of what is happening “on-the-pitch”, with all the publicity that has surrounded our fantastic start to the season. However, it is some time since I updated you with what is going on “off-the-pitch”, hence this quick update. Sadly, there is nothing contained in this note that is as exciting as hearing about the footballing operations but I have promised to keep you informed so here is an update on a few things going on behind the scenes.
On the operational front we continue with our focus on improving the match-day experience as much as possible.This covers everything from implementing long overdue facilities improvements (e.g. providing hot running water in all the toilets; upgrading the emergency lighting; replacing the now very dated pitch-side matting; replacing broken seats) to launching our new hospitality offerings – the Gorgie Kids Club for the young ones and Gorgie Club for the not so young; and our latest, hugely popular initiative, Gorgie Live!
We want to keep improving things so do please keep on giving feedback – whether good or not so good - and don’t forget, every penny you spend in the stadium – whether for a pie, a pint or a full meal – benefits the club directly, since all of our catering is now in-house.
On a slightly different front, we have a full review of our IT and Communications infrastructure underway, with a view to making us more efficient in running the business and improving our communications with you, the supporters. The new, recently launched website has been well received as has the improved Hearts TV, where we can now offer live screening of all our home games to our overseas supporters. Again, please do keep the feedback coming.
We are embarking on an IT upgrade for our suites to provide modern business facilities for companies hiring them on non-match days. This will become an important revenue stream for the club.
Another interesting project that is now underway is a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of creating a museum within the stadium. Watch this space!
At a corporate level, too, we are making progress in “sorting out” some of the problems we inherited. While this is not the most exciting part of the business, it is essential that we “get our house in order”.
Our registrars are working hard to get the 2012 share certificates sent out. The certificates are currently being printed and should be available by the middle of next week at the latest, for posting out to subscribers. We still have a few data cleansing issues to resolve. For example, a number of supporters’ clubs and pubs subscribed for shares collectively. However, to be added to the Share Register we need the name of the person who will represent the collective shareholders. This person will be the individual who will be able to attend General Meetings and will act as signatory on behalf of the group of shareholders they represent. We are currently contacting the clubs and pubs in an effort to sort this out. However, this should not hold up the bulk of the certificates going out.
Our audited annual accounts for 2012/13 have been signed off and lodged with Companies House. Believe me, that was no small task. Nor is the job of finalising the 2013/14 accounts. However, this is now well underway.
The club has a legal obligation to send copies of audited accounts to all shareholders. The cost of doing this is estimated to be in excess of £10,000. We would ideally like to avoid incurring this cost, by making the information available electronically – on the club website – with hard copies only being sent out to shareholders who request them.
We are exploring options but it is looking increasingly unlikely that we will be able to avoid posting them out for legal reasons. So, if you receive copies of the last two years’ accounts in the post, please don’t ask: “Why is the club wasting so much money posting these out?” as it will only happen if we have no other choice.
At the October Board meeting, the Directors approved the following:
- An AGM will be held in December, prior to Christmas, in the Gorgie Suite. I will confirm the date once I have clarity on when the 2013/14 audited accounts are likely to be available.
Having reviewed the salary structure across all areas of the club, we propose to implement the nationally-approved Living Wage, across all staff, including part-time and contract workers. We have taken steps to register with the Living Wage Foundation thereby formalising our commitment.
We believe we will be the first football club in Scotland to sign up for this. We further believe it is entirely in keeping with the values we hold dear as a club.
The Board and senior executives at the club continue to work hard to support and develop ever-stronger relationships with all organisations and bodies closely linked with the club. This includes all supporter groups, including the Foundation of Hearts, with whom we have been working on a way to say “thank you” in a tangible way to all supporters and pledgers; it includes Big Hearts, with whom we have been discussing ways in which we can jointly give greater support to the community; and it includes the McCrae’s Battalion Trust, with whom we have been working to create a very special Remembrance Day commemoration. You will be hearing more about all of these initiatives in the very near future.
Plea for Support
Finally, I want to finish with a bit of a rant.
At a number of away games, most recently at Easter Road, some individuals in the Hearts end set off flares. On Saturday last, when we were privileged to host the women’s play-off for the World Cup between Scotland and Holland, flares were set off. On this occasion, these were set off in the Main Stand – a 100-year-old wooden structure, with over 2000 supporters, many of them children!
The people responsible seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that not only is this illegal, it is extremely dangerous… not just for them, but for everyone around them. The smoke itself can be harmful to anyone breathing it in… especially, for example, asthma sufferers; those flares eject material that can seriously burn anyone, or anything, it touches; and obviously, they can cause fires.
Please support the club in trying to stamp out such stupid, dangerous and inappropriate behaviour. Please also be assured that the club has an absolute zero tolerance policy and will issue a life-time ban to any and all individuals or groups of individuals who endanger fellow-supporters and clubs’ facilities in this way.
Thank you all for your continued support.