Hearts will not officially exit administration for another month, but owner Ann Budge last night heralded a new era when she assumed control after the club's protracted takeover was finally sealed.
With the funds available to administrators BDO running out, the crucial Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) was struck yesterday following weeks of intricate negotiations involving lawyers acting for BDO and Budge and their counterparts at UBIG and Ukio Bankas in Lithuania.
The SPA, transferring UBIG's near 50% shareholding and Ukio Bankas's almost 30% stake in the club, allowed Budge's BIDCO vehicle to complete the already-agreed £2.5m Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with the successful transfer of money yesterday afternoon. That was quickly followed by the completion of a management deal that allowed Budge to take the reins of the club and work in tandem with BDO before a complete takeover during the close season.
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The Foundation of Hearts, the supporter-led umbrella group, yesterday provided Budge with an initial £1m of funds and will add at least £1.4m per year, thanks to direct debits from more than 8000 fans, to allow the IT millionaire to begin running the club and planning for next season. That will include sorting out the future of manager Gary Locke, as well as the contracts of a host of players.
The formalities of the club's exit from administration are expected to take a minimum of four weeks but joint administrator Bryan Jackson is intent on completing the legal paperwork by June 19, the date that marks a year since the club was plunged into uncertainty with debts of around £28.5m. He said: "BDO will continue behind the scenes for a few more weeks and will exit from office before the start of the 2014-15 football season, with Hearts being managed by the new board of directors for the remaining duration of the administration."