The Foundation of Hearts has revealed donations to the fan ownership organisation have surpassed £15million.

Chairman Gerry Mallon paid tribute to the dedication of 8700 pledgers as he revealed the figure to FoH members at Tynecastle on Sunday. Mallon was joined by chairman Ann Budge, sporting director Joe Savage, manager Robbie Neilson and several first-team stars to a celebrate a significant milestone.

In August 2021, Hearts became the largest fan-owned football club in the UK, with FoH becoming majority shareholders. Members’ monthly donations are then used to provide funds for the club.

Mallon was concerned pledges would suffer amid the onset of the cost of living crisis, but admits being blown away by how members’ commitment has held up in tough times.

"It's a massive milestone,” he said. “I haven't been in the role for a year yet and I have to say that, with the way the economy was going, I was seriously worried about whether the pledges level was going to hold up.

“You could see all the pressures on people's pockets, the cost of living crisis that everyone was absolutely petrified about. The cost of following Hearts this season has been expensive, although brilliant occasions. We have been blown away that there have been little or no budging in the continual level of donations.

“We are constantly around 8,700 pledgers and the £142,000 a month mark coming in. The feedback we get from pledgers is that, if they are cutting back, the last thing they will cut back on is their FoH donation.

"In our mind was whether there is a risk that pledgers view it as mission accomplished for the Foundation. They saved the club and got it into fan ownership, so what's next? Is it time to think about something else?

“Everybody has more or less flipped into: 'Now it's about ensuring the success of the club and making sure we do really well on the pitch by giving them a head start against their rivals.'”

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Mallon, also chief-executive at Tesco Bank, joined the FoH board in 2022. Its initial inception was to safeguard against a repeat of the financial turbulence of the Vladimir Romanov era, and the model has also attracted interest from fan groups at clubs such as Falkirk, Newcastle, Raith Rovers, Swindon, Charlton, Hartlepool, Darlington and Newport County.

Mallon says the Foundation’s role now is aid in ensuring a sustainable long-term future for Hearts.

“It’s really difficult, if you’re a passionate fan, to not think constantly short-term about this week’s results or next week’s results,” he said. “There’s a real risk you knee jerk in response to a particular set of circumstances, instead of thinking longer term.

“The other temptation in football is always to invest short-term to achieve success and think you’ll get financial reward, and that it’ll be sustainable. Our job is to make sure the club thinks long-term.

“It’s not necessarily about winning the next match, it’s about making sure what happened to Hearts under Romanov doesn’t happen again, that there always will be a club here that is constantly financially viable and the right decisions are made for the long term that will achieve success.

“So that’s why we very much push the separation between the club board and the Foundation - one is responsible for the long term, as a fan group we run the risk of getting excited on the short term.”