Hearts owner Ann Budge issues rallying call to supporters regarding on and off the pitch improvements

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Hearts owner Ann Budge has stressed that the supporters have a huge part to play in helping deliver major improvements on and off the park.

Despite admitting that the club are on course to increase turnover by £1 million and break even for the current financial year, Budge admits a series of costly projects are lined up.

A new £15 million main stand is the centre piece of recent ground improvements and as internal work continues on the new 7,000 capacity seater structure, manager Craig Levein is planning a major squad overhaul this summer.

The club will also shell out for a new pitch during the close-season, with a £1 million hybrid surface the preferred choice, while an estimated £500,000 must be found to replace a nursery that was knocked down as part of the stadium redevelopment.

Hearts launched season tickets earlier than usual on Wednesday and Budge insists money generated from the fans would play a key part in the planning of the projects.

She said: “The new main stand developments continue apace, we need the new pitch and of course, we have to continue to invest in both our first team squad and our youth players.

“We need to know now that we have your continued financial backing in order to enable us to instruct the next phase of developments and improvements.

“Like many businesses which are expanding and developing, we must ensure we manage cashflow carefully.  

“In other words, we often have to fund the developments before we reap the rewards.  That is why we are launching our season tickets early.”

Finances

In an update to fans on the club’s website, Budge reported that the club’s finances remain in a healthy state despite the main stand, which was initially due to cost around £12 million, being well over budget.

She added: “We are three quarters of the way through our financial year and have a reasonably sound picture of how the year will end in financial terms.  

“We set out this year (as we did last year) to grow our turnover (income) and to break-even in performance terms.  

“I am pleased to say that we anticipate growing our turnover, once again, by approximately £1 million.  

“We also anticipate achieving a break-even position, which is no mean achievement, given the challenges we have faced in the last year.  

“Yes, the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project has gone over-budget but we are managing this to ensure we do not over-stretch ourselves.

“So, in business terms we are doing well and I am confident that the future looks good.”

Top six

While Hearts look set to fall short on their target of qualifying for the Europa League, Budge concedes the disruption of building the new main stand, which included playing four ‘home’ games at neighbouring Murrayfield, has to be taken into account when gauging the side’s overall performance on the park.

She added: “The first team has, of course, suffered some disappointing results over recent weeks.  

“A tough run against Premiership sides took us to the quarter-final stage of the Scottish Cup; our first appearance there since 2012.

“Similarly, our league position is not where we would hope to be at this point in the season.  

“However, we should not under-estimate or forget the challenges of the early part of the season, when we had so many games away from Tynecastle.  

“Since returning ‘home’, the boys have indeed tried hard to make Tynecastle ‘the fortress’ of times gone by, as evidenced by the fact that we are still unbeaten since coming ‘home’.  I can assure you that everyone here is totally focussed on securing a top six finish.”

Youngsters

Budge also recognised the success of the club’s youth academy, with the likes of teenagers Harry Cochrane, Anthony McDonald, Lewis Moore and Andy Irvine all forcing their way into the first team this term.

She added: “Every Hearts supporter must be delighted at the now demonstrable success of our academy, proving beyond any doubt that our investments over the last three years into our youth programmes, our coaching methods and our scouting arrangements have been well worthwhile.  

“I’m sure it makes all of us immensely proud to see so many of our academy graduates running out regularly at Tynecastle as part of the first team.”

 
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