BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Hearts owner Ann Budge insists the public fall-out with the SPFL will not put her off standing for election to the league board next summer.
Budge’s criticisms over the lack of consultation regarding the new League Cup format were countered by a SPFL board statement on Tuesday that claimed Hearts were involved in the revamp every step of the way.
The IT guru then released a detailed response of her own on Thursday afternoon that rejected several points made by the SPFL.
After transforming Hearts off the field, Budge is keen to play a hands-on role in overhauling Scottish football and she insists she will once again stand for election to the SPFL Board after missing out last summer.
Budge, who admitted she was ‘surprised’ that SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster had still not tried to resolve the issue over the phone, said: “Will I stand again for election? Probably.
“I haven’t taken soundings or thought about it. Last year I was absolutely new to the game, I didn’t know very many people and they didn’t know me. And people will either think my style can be helpful or a hindrance and vote accordingly.
“I still believe there’s an appetite for change, I really do. Change can take a long time, particularly if it’s – I hesitate to say – a culture you’re trying to change, it doesn’t change overnight.”
Reflecting on the last week, Budge, who officially opened the Forever in our Hearts Memorial Garden at Tynecastle yesterday, added: “We’re all busy people, we’ve got other things to be doing. So dealing with the fallout of what, in my view, was a relatively straight-forward and honest comment was frustrating.
“Some things need to be said. That’s my view. I don’t think it’s appropriate that people should complain about things in private or between themselves, but not be prepared to say ‘I think this is wrong’.
“Some things need to be said. They don’t necessarily need to be treated as a major issue.
“A phone call saying ‘Ann, I really didn’t like the fact that you said that’ or words to that effect could have put paid to it very quickly.
“I don’t quite understand, if I’m being honest, why the particular approach was taken.
“People said that. ‘Oh boy, you’ve had your wrist slapped’. I said, ‘no I haven’t’.”
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, meanwhile, is in no doubt that Budge would have a lot to offer the SPFL.
He said: “If I was making the decisions, I’d be doing everything to get her on the board.
“She would add value to the game. We have been through a difficult time and we are starting to move in the right direction.
“Any advice we could get to do that would be welcome.
“She’s coming in and asking: ‘Why have we been doing this for the last 20 or 30 years?’
“Her experience and business acumen means she sees a way to do things differently, in a way that will progress not just Hearts but the league as a whole.
“She understands that it’s not just another business, too.”