THE Foundation of Hearts, the fans-led group aiming to take the Tynecastle club out of administration, wants the focus to return to trying to save the club following a week of off-field distractions.
The imminent departure of assistant manager Billy Brown, the attempts by administrators BDO to have a registration embargo lifted, and the announcement that the chief executive David Southern and the director of football John Murray had agreed to wage cuts, have all dominated the agenda in the past week, prompting the Foundation, through chairman Ian Murray MP, to issue a reminder that the future of the club is yet to be secured.
The Foundation, who reached a conditional Company Voluntary Agreement with creditors last year, require the 50% shareholding held by UBIG to be signed over to them before they can assume ownership of the club, but, with the Lithuanian investment group also in administration, it has become a drawn-out process. With BDO in danger of running out of money before that deal can be concluded, Murray requested that all interested parties kept their "eyes on the prize" to ensure the club survives.
"The start of a new year brings optimism to Heart of Midlothian, but at the same time there is a reminder for all of us in events this week that there is much to be done before supporters can see our club exit administration and begin to build for the future," said Murray, who also announced that the Foundation have apppointed Dundas & Wilson as its legal advisor, and Scott-Moncrieff as their nominated corporate financial advisors and accountants.
"It is critically important that all eyes remain on the prize, securing Hearts' survival, and so I strongly encourage everyone involved in this process to remain highly focused. Some of the discussion of the last fortnight about the manager, his assistant, and player registrations are understandable, but we must remember why we are all here.
"We are all acutely aware of the need to see Hearts exit administration, and plan for the future. We know there is frustration from supporters, but I can assure them we are working every hour to expedite the process. We are ready to move extremely quickly, once matters in Lithuania can be resolved. Hopefully, that moment will be soon. Total focus can take us to where we need to be. We will continue to keep supporters fully informed as the process continues."
The Foundation's ownership model requires fans to make monthly payments and Murray was pleased to see many had committed to doing so. "I am also extremely heartened to report that January contributions via direct debit have held up as strongly as every month before," he added. "We continue to see over 7600 contributors and a 99% collection success rate."
Supporters were also commended by Paulo Sergio, the former manager. "During my time at Tynecastle, I came to love both the club [and all it stood for] and its passionate, dedicated fans," said the Portuguese. "Those emotions are still with me, and that is why I am delighted to pass on my gratitude to all Hearts supporters who have stood by the club through difficult times and are continuing to do so right now. Much has been achieved by you, the fans, and by the Foundation of Hearts, but much still has to be done to secure the future.
"I would simply ask you to stand firm with the Foundation, keep this amazing initiative going, spread the word among fellow fans, and do not rest until you win the day. Do not doubt that your commitment, your work, and your achievements so far have been an inspiration to football supporters around the world. Stay strong, and I wish you and this great club the very best for the future. I know that you can achieve your goal."