Club News

Update from Ann Budge

19th April 2014

A message to all pledgers and all Hearts supporters everywhere, from Hearts chairwoman designate Ann Budge.

BIDCO 1874 director and Heart of Midlothian FC chairwoman designate Ann Budge has issued the following message to Hearts supporters:

"Hi all,

"At the end of what has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for Hearts, I think it is important to try to spell out as clearly as possible what has actually happened and what it means for our "campaign" to save Hearts. I will also attempt to outline what happens next, although you will all appreciate that much of this is still outside of my control so please read it with that in mind.

"Firstly, where are we with regard to exiting administration? The news on Monday 7th April that we had agreement to the transfer of the 50% shareholding in the Club owned by UBIG was a significant step forward in getting Hearts out of Administration. However, the last major hurdle of the Ukio Bankas Creditors Committee meeting seemed to be running on forever. Therefore, we were all absolutely thrilled to receive news on Wednesday morning that Ukio had agreed to the CVA, to the transfer of the remaining 29.9% shareholding in Hearts and to the release of the security over the stadium.

"This was the highest hurdle to clear and takes us about 90% of the way to getting the club out of Administration. The last stage, in terms of the dealings with the current owners, is to complete the legal Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) - the formal contract, which will be signed between Bidco 1874 and UBIG, and which will trigger the £2.5million payment and the corresponding transfer of shares and assets to Bidco 1874. We have been working on this alongside everything else, and hopefully, this can be concluded soon. However, we have to remember that the cooling off period for the UBIG decision does not lapse until Sunday 27th April. This is the period when a creditor can still object to the decision. There is no cooling off period for the Ukio Bankas decision. However, the final step of signing the SPA cannot happen until after this date.

"When the SPA is signed, the club's ownership will pass from the current owners to Bidco 1874, the company set up by myself to take ownership of Hearts. I don't think I need to spell out to anyone that I am a fan and am only doing this as a fan, with the express intention of passing ownership over to the wider supporter base, via FOH, over the course of the next few years.

"While final negotiations with the current owners are being concluded, there are a number of other legal processes and documents to be finalized and agreed here in Scotland. Once again, we are working hard to ensure these are all completed as quickly as possible. This includes the main legal agreements between Hearts, Bidco 1874 and FOH, that will ensure ownership can ultimately pass to the supporters. Since we are all on the same side in this, then all of this work is being done in the spirit of cooperation. However, all parties interests must be protected - in particular, the fans who are putting up the cash to help stabilize the Club and thereafter, to buy the Hearts shares and Tynecastle Stadium, taking it out of private ownership and into fans ownership, hopefully for all time. This is a major undertaking and it is crucial that the legal work is completed to the highest standard. We cannot cut any corners in this, so please bear with us as we work to get this all done.

"So?what happens next?

"Something that some of you may not be aware of is that Bidco 1874 is obliged, due to stock market rules, to make a general offer to all shareholders for their shares. This means any of you who hold any shares in Hearts, will be written to, offering to buy your shares on the same terms as has been offered to UBIG. The whole process will be fully explained at the time. However, for legal reasons, this will delay the formal leaving of Administration for a few more weeks. During the period between the signature of the SPA and the formal end of Administration, there will be a Management Agreement put in place (another legal document being worked on!) to allow the new owner, Bidco 1874, to get involved in the running of the club.

"As you will have gathered from the above, we are all working very hard to get the final negotiations completed and the associated legal processes finalised. We are all very confident that this work will be completed well before the start of next season to avoid the possibility of any further football sanctions. I am also working with the current management team at Tynecastle, to ensure I have a clear understanding of the issues, to allow me to "hit the ground running" in terms of taking over control of the club, when legally allowed to do so.

"There has been and will continue to be a significant number of questions that you will wish to have answered. One that I do want to answer now is the question relating to those supporters who paid for shares in the last share issue and have never received their share certificates. This is something I am totally committed to rectifying and I will address it as soon as I am in a position to do so.

"I hope this has helped to clarify things somewhat and not added to the confusion that I know is out there. Please be assured that from this point onwards, I will work diligently to keep you informed at all times, on what is happening at the club.

"I will conclude for now by just saying a huge thank you. This week will go down in the history of Heart of Midlothian FC as one of the most important. We are within touching distance of bringing our club home. This has only been possible not because of me, not because of the Foundation of Hearts, not because of BDO or anyone else - it is because of you, the supporters of the Club who have stood by Hearts and the Foundation through a troubling and uncertain time. Your backing for the Foundation sowed the seeds that has made this deal possible. You turning up in large number to support the club and your fundraising efforts have kept it alive. Future generations of Hearts supporters will thank you and rightly so.

"All we have to do now is continue in the same vein. Fill the stadium for the last remaining games of the season and keep supporting the Foundation of Hearts. (www.foundationofhearts.org)"

Ann Budge

On HeartsTV today, Gary Locke and Ryan Stevenson looks ahead to today's Ross County game.