In this week’s Behind The Goals Podcast, we speak to Foundation of Heart Board Member Louise Strutt about fan ownership at Gorgie and the incredible achievements of the Foundation since their establishment.
The Foundation of Hearts (FoH) is the largest supporters’ movement in Scottish footballing history with a membership of around 8,000 individuals, all of whom contribute financially to the organisation. This financial contribution is used to provide working capital for the club.
A not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation was created in 2010 by a group of local businesspeople (Alex Mackie, Jamie Bryant, Brian Cormack, Donald Ford, Garry Halliday), all of whom are lifelong Hearts fans. They had a shared vision for the future which is based on bringing Heart of Midlothian back to the people who are truly passionate about this club – the fans.
In 2013, the Foundation was joined by all the Hearts supporters’ organisations – the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders Association, the Heart of Midlothian Supporters’ Trust, Hearts Youth Development Committee (HYDC), and Save Our Hearts. Under the chairmanship of Ian Murray MP, this united group worked under the Foundation of Hearts ‘banner’ to take forward the vision of fan ownership.
In 2014, one of the Foundation’s own team, Ann Budge (through her specially created company, Bidco), successfully acquired the majority shareholding of the club. A legally binding agreement was put in place between Bidco and the Foundation which will deliver ultimate fan ownership – via the Foundation – over an anticipated five-year period of time. Doing so allows the club’s finances to be stabilised, and for there to be an orderly transition to supporter ownership. Bidco’s sole purpose is to deliver fan ownership and it will therefore not seek to make any personal gain through the process.
The position that Ann Budge/Bidco inherited was one of a club with no money in the bank, and the contribution from the Foundation has provided essential working capital at this difficult time. The Foundation signed up to providing £1.4 million in year 1 and £1.4 million in year 2. Monies raised over and above this will be accrued over the next years to repay the loan provided by Ann Budge of £2.5 million; the loan that effectively saved the club. This means that the total that the Foundation will require to raise in the five years since its inception will be £6.3 million.
In this podcast, we speak to Louise about the incredible achievements of the Foundation including looking at the steps that led to the Foundation’s formation, the new Tynecastle Development Fund and how the Foundation have successfully amassed and attained such a strong membership.
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