In his debut piece, Hearts fan Matt Ward looks at the Tynecastle side as they try to put their financial issues behind them and get back to matters on the pitch.
The financial predicament of Heart of Midlothian FC has been the talk of the town for many a year, with matters finally coming to ahead in the last few months. In a short space of time we’ve witnessed the club going into administration, 15 point deduction, staff cuts, wage cuts, three preferred bidders for the club, and a fantastic effort yet again from the fans in helping to raise much-needed funds. Now with pre-season in full swing, the staff and fans are trying and turn their attention to football matters, rather than money matters.
The summer months can be a time of change for a lot of football clubs across the globe. Whether you’re wheeling and dealing on a budget, or trying to splash the cash that’s burning a hole in your chairman’s pocket, the summer months can be a challenge. But for this summer’s transfer window, buying players is something Hearts won’t be able to do. Part of their punishment for slipping into administration is an extended transfer embargo that prevents them from being able to buy or register any new players. The only transfer activity available to the club in this window is that of selling anyone of the current playing staff.
Nottingham Forest reportedly put in two offers for young midfielder Jason Holt in the last week. The first offer of 75k was knocked back, as was the apparent improved follow up offer of 100k. This has provoked a mixed response from some supporters in terms of the message it’s giving out regarding being in administration. It was only a few weeks ago that it was announced that the entire squad was made available for transfer as the club frantically tried to generate any sort of money they could to help keep the club alive. And now a few weeks on and a 100k offer for a player has been turned down.
This is a really tough call and I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, Hearts need any money they can get at present to try to keep the club going until a new owner can be found, not to mention the £25 million debt that still hangs over the club. Staff members have been made redundant, along with striker John Sutton, and 4 first team players agreed to wage cuts to help the club out. If I was one of the staff members who was laid off by the administrators, BDO, I would be within my rights to be a bit miffed as to why any sort of money is being knocked back by a club in administration when jobs are being cut.
But on the other hand, if the club sells their best players, for what could be classed as peanuts, and can’t look to replace them, then for me this would all but see them relegated. The 15 point deduction is going to be a hard one to claw back with the current squad of 22, let alone a possible depleted one. A point to make is that when the staff members sadly lost their jobs, this was before the fans rallied with fundraising, merchandise and ticket sales. That money has enabled the club to keep going for the next 4-5 months, which didn’t look likely at the start of the admin process. I believe that BDO were right to knock back that offer, but if Forest come back with a vastly improved offer, then I would be sad to see the player leave, but understand if it helps to keep the club going in the long-term.
The most important thing in this whole situation is that Heart of Midlothian FC survives. From the point of view of any prospective owners, they must be encouraged by the fan base and the way they all come together when times are testing. The Foundation of Hearts, who are one of the preferred bidders, have the backing of ex players and managers alike and I believe they have the clubs best interest at heart. This can only be a good thing as Hearts move into a new dawn.