BY ALAN TEMPLE – CAPITAL CITY PRESS
Foundation of Hearts (FoH) chairman Brian Cormack has marked the one-year anniversary of Hearts’ exit from administration by hailing supporters – and vowing that the fans’ group will not succumb to complacency.
Today represents exactly 365 days since Ann Budge was officially handed full control of the capital club, purchasing the 141-year-old institution for £2.5 million to stave off the threat of liquidation.
Her ascension to power prompted a complete restructuring of the club, from the boardroom to the bootroom, with the appointment of director of football Craig Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson proving particularly inspired.
Hearts claimed Championship title at a canter, finishing 21 points ahead of city rivals Hibs, allowing Cormack to reflect on a memorable 12 months since the club’s survival was assured.
He said: “The club’s exit from administration was officially confirmed on this day exactly a year ago.
“The relief we felt from that chapter closing quickly turned to the excitement and optimism of a new era both on and off the park. And what a year it has been. The team is heading back to the Premiership and, off the park, we continue to grow stronger.
“As Hearts chair Ann Budge said at the end of the season, we couldn’t have done it without the fans. Never underestimate the role that they have played in saving this proud club.”
While Budge’s immediate capital was ultimately required to purchase the club last summer, FoH’s membership drives, fundraising and negotiations with administrators played a key part in ensuring Hearts remained a going concern during the dark days of administration.
With more than 8,100 members providing around £1.5 of annual income, FoH remain on course to take over the club by 2019.
And Cormack, who has replaced Ian Murray MP as the group’s figurehead, is determined to ensure the momentum continues.
He added: “At the Foundation, we constantly remind ourselves that this is just the start and, heading into the second year of the five year plan, the one thing we will not do is become complacent.
“We have two main objectives moving forward. The first is to maintain and even increase the existing Foundation of Hearts membership.
“The other is to work with the club to create a governance model for fan ownership for when the Foundation of Hearts takes control.”