Hearts were condemned to Premiership bottom spot after losing to St Mirren in the SPFL’s final fixture in MarchHearts owner Ann Budge says “philanthropists” have approached her offering millions of pounds to help lower-league clubs, but that the SPFL’s response was “not decisive enough”.And Budge admits her draft league reconstruction paper is doomed to fail.…
Hearts owner Ann Budge says “philanthropists” have approached her offering millions of pounds to help lower-league clubs, but that the SPFL’s response was “not decisive enough”.
And Budge admits her draft league reconstruction paper is doomed to fail.
On outside investment, Budge says the SPFL asked her to “put a paper in and they will discuss it next week”.
Chief executive Neil Doncaster says he believed Budge’s talks with potential investors were ongoing.
Doncaster added: “But if it is now appropriate for me to talk to them directly, I am very happy to do so.
“I have had a number of conversations with Ann this week, including one that also involved another club chairman. Clearly, any income for our game, especially at such a difficult time, is something we would all welcome.
“I am delighted to have heard Ann’s comments on the radio this afternoon that there are, in fact, no conditions attached to this money.
“I will be speaking again to Ann over the weekend and hope to be in a position to update our divisional meetings this week.”
Budge, speaking to BBC Scotland Sportsound, described the offer of help for Scotland’s lower-league clubs as “an amazing philanthropic gesture”, believed to be worth millions of pounds with no conditions.
The businesswoman continued: “They know me because of Hearts. What they’re saying is, ‘We would like to help Scottish football’, and I can’t even get that moving.
“It’s not quick enough, it’s not decisive enough. I’m offering them money! Not my money. I don’t think it should be for me to say, ‘Here’s a pot of money, this is how I think it should be spent’.”
As things stand, Hearts will be playing in the Championship next season, having been relegated in bottom spot when the Premiership was called with eight games remaining.
“The inherent unfairness of it is why I’m still talking about it,” said Budge, who reiterated that legal action is her least favoured option to address what she sees as the Tynecastle club being wronged by their relegation.
She accepts the reconstruction proposal – which five lower-league clubs have confirmed they do not support – will not go through because “a number of clubs won’t be able to play next season”.
“I put forward a paper which I want to be viewed as a discussion document,” Budge added.
“I’m not precious at all about 14-14-14. What I want to progress is the discussions. I feel like we have been treading water for weeks and nothing is happening.”
Responding to claims by the likes of Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor that her proposal is fuelled by self-interest, Budge said: “If it hadn’t been Hearts there, no, I might not have been fighting so hard but I can assure you I would have been voting for change.
“If I go right back to 15 March, I wrote to the SPFL and said we need to look at this so that clubs don’t suffer. What I got back was a letter that basically said, ‘Yes, if you would like to do the work and tell us what articles need changed, we’ll look at it’.
“That is not what I expect from the governing body. I expect them to take more leadership.
“I should not be the one who’s trying to come up with some solution. I and many others can see a tsunami coming towards us. Certain clubs cannot play behind closed doors. Other clubs don’t want to for business reasons.
“Everybody knows we have to make a change. Let’s make a change proactively rather than waiting for clubs getting into difficulty. It’s a nonsense.”
Budge says that manager Daniel Stendel now “technically does not have a contract,” but stopped short of confirming the German will leave the club.