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SBD Global/November 16, 2012/Franchises

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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