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SBD Global/November 22, 2012/Franchises

Hearts Fans Reach $957,000 In Shares, Club To Protect From Those With 'Ulterior Motives'

Supporters of Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian FC have bought £100,000 ($159,000) worth of club shares in just three days, bringing the total raised from share sales to more than £600,000 ($957,000), according to Barry Anderson of the SCOTSMAN. Club officials "thanked fans for their loyal backing and criticised those they claim have tried to capitalise on the club's financial troubles." In a "thinly-veiled jibe" at Italian businessman Angelo Massone and Foundation of Hearts Chair Alex Mackie, Hearts said that they remained committed to securing their long-term future and would not be distracted by "self-publicists and dreamers who value themselves more than the club." Massone and Mackie both had takeover bids dismissed as "undervaluing the club." Hearts are "encouraged that supporters continue ploughing money into the share issue." The £600,000 barrier was broken Tuesday, just 72 hours after it was announced that the £500,000 ($797,000) mark had been reached (SCOTSMAN, 11/21).

A HEARTS-FILLED MESSAGE: In Edinburgh, Anderson added that Hearts board message to fans on the club's website read: "Hearts would today like to thank every supporter who has contributed to an excellent start to the club's fundraising efforts as the club's share offer reaches the halfway mark" (SCOTSMAN, 11/21). The Scotland DAILY RECORD noted Hearts board members vowed to resist any move that would see the club "fall into the hands of people who may have ulterior motives." The Hearts message continued: "Your commitment so far is all the more impressive given the stern barriers that we have had to overcome along the way, whether that is demands from tax authorities, opportunism from those interested in making a quick profit for themselves. Our message to them is step aside, we have work to do and this work is for the club and thing but the club. Anything else is simply an unnecessary distraction" (DAILY RECORD, 11/21).

FAN PLANS: STV noted Paul Goodwin, head of Supporters Direct, a government-backed body charged with helping more clubs become fan-owned, "met with the Tynecastle hierarchy again." They discussed "various different models of bringing Hearts fans on board to help own and fund the club, but he warned that results will not come overnight." Goodwin said, "It's a bit like building a house, you have to start off with the planning permission, get the foundations laid and then build it. It's going to be a staged process, and it is moving in the right direction" (STV, 11/21).

BAR TALK: In Edinburgh, David McCann wrote "Hue dunnit?" In a city divided by football allegiances -- "where almost all nail their colours to a maroon or green mast -- the patrons at one Leith pub are crying foul after management painted its facade Hibernian green." The Port O’ Leith Pub, "once renowned for its blood-red exterior, changed its exterior this week prompting some Jambo-leaning regulars to talk of a boycott." But they "need not have feared as the pub -- which has a long-held neutrality when it comes to footballing rivalry -- has merely been temporarily redecorated as it's set to form one of the backdrops to new film Sunshine On Leith." Pub Manager Norrie Stewart admitted that some regulars "have been sniffy about the overnight colour change." Stewart said, "The people from Sunshine On Leith told me it was going to be painted yellow or else I would have told the punters in advance" (EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS, 11/21).
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