THE Foundation of Hearts have turned down an offer from a group led by Gordon McKie to submit a joint bid for the Tynecastle club, revealing instead a preference to either work with another backer or to go it alone.
Herald Sport revealed yesterday that McKie, a former chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union, would only prolong his interest in taking the club out of administration alongside the Foundation. The fans-led body, however, have instead elected to go down a different route, effectively ending McKie's involvement.
McKie's consortium were confident Hearts could exit administration via a Company Voluntary Agreement and offered to meet that cost – thought to be in the region of £3m – if the Foundation could fund the requisite working capital. The Foundation will now turn to an alternative funding source to help with their bid, with businesswoman Ann Budge among those quoted as possible investors.
Administrator Trevor Birch had spoken of "three or four" parties showing credible interest but with McKie out of the running and others yet to show their hand, there is a growing feeling that the Foundation's bid may be the only one on the table come Friday's deadline, something that may influence their offer.
A statement from McKie yesterday effectively confirmed his group would be walking away. "Whilst obviously disappointed as a group of investors who have invested a lot of time and effort into putting forward a credible bid, we are delighted for Ian Murray [MP, the Foundation chairman] and all concerned at FoH for all the hard work they've have been doing," it read. "The loyal Hearts fans who have dug deep into their own pockets are a credit to their club.
"Our investor group have been consistent in their desire to fund the front-end capital associated with a successful CVA but the absence of any significant 2013/14 season ticket revenues will inevitably mean an additional funding requirement which was not foreseen. We did, however, identify a solution whereby FoH could fund that working capital shortfall in return for an equity shareholding and we would finance the front-end capital requirements, thus creating a real partnership for the good of Hearts. Today's news from FoH of significant capital backing from another source is to be welcomed and we hope they can now proceed, conclude matters swiftly, and finalise a CVA with the administrators.
"What we have learned is that there is a tremendous amount of goodwill towards Hearts. It has been shown Hearts are extremely important for Edinburgh and for Scottish football. Edinburgh needs Hearts to be building a future in this community which involves top-flight European football. This will take some time, a massive amount of support and hard work and the appropriate levels of investment and we wish Ian Murray and FoH every success in achieving these objectives."
Murray thanked McKie for his offer. "We welcome Gordon's honesty that his own consortium is not in a position to go it alone and thank him for his proposal," he said. "Our bid will combine capital funding support alongside the fantastic efforts of fans in setting up thousands of direct debits to the Foundation to provide a stable ongoing financial platform.
"We are very confident the route we pick will be right both now and in the future, given the strong options available to us. The response yesterday from supporters was, yet again, fantastic from the first email to drop at 8am to the last tweet of the night. Thousands of fans want to own a part of their club, and ensure we can shape a future as illustrious as the past."