'At this particular stage, we are the only game in town' - Ian Murray MP

Ian Murray MP.
Ian Murray: Edinburgh MP is Independent Chair of the Foundation of Hearts.Deadline

The MP behind a fans group trying to buy Hearts has urged all of the club’s supporters to pledge whatever cash they can.

Ian Murray, Labour’s representative for the Edinburgh South constituency, said fans need to continue their support of the Foundation of Hearts as it emerged 4000 pledges have now been made to the group.

All four goal scorers at last year’s 5-1 Scottish Cup final triumph over Hibs - Rudi Skacel, Danny Grainger, Darren Barr and Ryan McGowan - have announced their support of the campaign.

A fans meeting will be held at Tynecastle on Friday night, with Vladimir Romanov's ownership of the club up for discussion.

Mr Murray, who is the Independent Chair of the Foundation, said: “We need people to continue to pledge as the more pledges we have got, the more we can bid for the club, or the more chance we have got of making the bid for the club successful.

“Any surplus will be given back to the fans or reinvested into the club itself. The bigger pot we have, it is easier to put a credible bid forward for the club.

“We have real momentum now. We have the Scottish Cup goal scorers pledges and we have other big names to release as the days go by.

“There is an unprecedented demand to find out what we are up to, and there is a great demand of people pledging. We will be putting in a system to convert this week.”

Mr Murray says it is hoped the pledges of fans will be changed into cash by the end of this coming weekend, with monies being transferred by direct debit on July 4th.

The politician would not reveal how much money has been promised so far by fans, but outlined each individual contribution was between £10 and £200 meaning the figure is a maximum of £800,000.

The Scotsman newspaper has reported that the Foundation could make a bid for the club by the end of this month..

The Labour MP said he had no fundraising total in mind, simply stating he hopes to bid “a pound more than the person who bids the second amount”.

He is now looking forward to a question and answer session with 300 fans at Tynecastle Stadium this Friday night, where the foundation’s plans will be discussed further. There are no tickets left for the event.

Mr Murray added: “We are not giving an exact figure as we don’t want to be giving our hand away in any negotiating we might be doing in terms of trying to purchase the club, and we don’t want people to think that we are almost there.

“People want to know what the money is being used for. People want to know what our vision going forward for the future of the football club.

“We are going to be asking the 300 people in the room if they like what we have got to say, and if their questions have been answered.

“The club will be owned by its members, the fans themselves. If we are successful in buying the club, we can determine the future and how the club is governed. All we are putting forward at the moment is the blueprint to work from.

“We just have to put the best bid possible we can. If that is successful, great. If not, hopefully some other owner will come in. We are saying to people who might be interested - come and speak to us.”

In April, the Foundation of Hearts outlined what it would do if it purchased the club.

Some of the plans include the right to nominate four fans’ representatives out of a nine-person board, and an assurance that any money committed by supporters will be returned if the deal does not come to fruition.

Hearts fans have suffered several off-field problems for months as the club’s financial situation deteriorates.

Last week, it emerged the club were in talks with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over an overdue tax bill of £100,000. Some media reports state the deadline for payment is 5pm on Tuesday.

Last year Hearts raised £1m through fans to help the club get through to the end of the season.

A winding up petition by HMRC for £450,000 was withdrawn after the sum was paid and the club settled a separate tax claim by agreeing to pay off £1.5m over three years.

The latest accounts from Tynecastle show the club is around £25m in debt, with no outside funding being received from parent company UBIG since February, 2012.

Mr Murray concluded: “At this particular stage, we are the only game in town. We have significant momentum. People are showing faith in the model we are trying to take forward.

“This is about them owning the club. It is about the person who sits in the Main Stand and the other stands owning the football club.

“If everything we want to do comes to fruition, the people who watch what is on the park will own the football club. I think that is a model that football in general should be starting to look at.”

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