SBD Global/November 16, 2012/Franchises

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  • Scottish Businesswoman Backs Bid To Turn Hearts Into Fan-Owned Club

    One of Scotland’s top businesswomen has "joined the consortium bidding to rescue" Scottish Premier League Heart of Midlothian and "turn it into a fan-owned club," according to David McCann of the SCOTSMAN. Multi-millionaire IT guru Ann Budge has teamed up with former Hearts striker Donald Ford and others as part of the Foundation of Hearts’ attempt to buy the Tynecastle club from Hearts' Owner Vladimir Romanov. The group "vowed to come back with a fresh bid," after Romanov rejected their initial offer. A fresh bid by Foundation of Hearts may now include "a lump sum payment to Romanov to assume control of the club," but supporter involvement would "remain central to its strategy going forward." Hearts’ owners dismissed the initial offer, claiming it presented a “staggering misjudgment of the value of the club” and demonstrated a “worrying lack of understanding of the situation.” The Hearts board rejected the bid -- which offered to pay off £450,000 ($713,000) in unpaid tax bills in return for control over a debt-free Hearts -- but reiterated its intention to "consider a supporter-led takeover" (SCOTSMAN, 11/14).

    FANS PLEA WITH ROMANOV: In Edinburgh, Barry Anderson reported Romanov was "urged to hand over control of Hearts to supporters" in an open letter from the Save Our Hearts fans’ group. They are asking the Russian businessman to "give his majority shareholding" to the Foundation of Hearts consortium. Save Our Hearts has "endorsed the plan" in its open letter to Romanov. The group was "heavily involved" in ousting former Hearts Chair Chris Robinson in '04 and now want his successor to choose a “dignified exit” and give the club to its supporters (SCOTSMAN, 11/15).

    PLAYERS FUTURE IN DOUBT: The BBC reported Hearts Manager John McGlynn "would not be surprised" if the club parted with players in January. McGlynn: "The wage bill was halved in the summer, but it is still an issue and a problem. It may well be that players get interest and we get bids. It would be very good to keep every player until the end of the season, but the most important thing is that the club survives" (BBC, 11/15).

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  • Supporters' Trust Poised To Take Over League One Club Portsmouth FC

    The Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust Wednesday said it could "see light at the end of the tunnel" after it signed a conditional deal to buy the League One club Portsmouth FC from administrator Trevor Birch, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The sale to the supporter-led consortium "is dependent on a successful court application to force Portpin, the investment vehicle for Balram Chainrai, the former owner, to sell Fratton Park." Portpin, the club’s largest creditor, "has previously rejected a £2.75M ($4.4M) offer from the trust, which is said to be based on an independent valuation." Chainrai is thought to "value the ground in the region of £10M ($15.9M)" (LONDON TIMES, 11/15).

    BEGINNING OF THE END: In London, Owen Gibson wrote PST Chair Ashley Brown said he was "thrilled and proud" that it had reached an agreement with accounting firm PKF, while Birch said he was hopeful that it marked "the beginning of the end of the process." It will be for a court to decide "whether the administrator can take control of the sale process and to decide whether PTS' offer represents fair value." Birch is hopeful a court date can be set before Dec. 21, "allowing the club to go into the new year in the hands of the supporters trust" (GUARDIAN, 11/15). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported Portpin is "owed £17M ($27M) by the club, secured against the stadium." The PST "is believed to have offered around £2.75M for the ground." PST spokesperson Colin Farmery said that about 2,000 Portsmouth fans "had pledged £2M ($3.2M) to help fund the takeover." He added that the trust "would now start to collect funds and look to other fans to back the deal." Portpin said that "it was still interested in buying the club should the PST bid fail for any reason" (REUTERS, 11/15).

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