Bye Pie to Chris after fans’ coup

HeadLine: Football: Bye Pie to Chris after fans’ coup

The Mirror, 13/02/2004, p80
by ROBERT MARTIN & SHAUN MILNE

HEARTS supporters are on the verge of driving chief executive Chris
Robinson from the club after a consortium agreed to buy out major
shareholders SMG.
That would bring a halt to the plans of Robinson – dubbed “The Pieman”
by Jambos fans – to relocate to Murrayfield, and also force the board
to resign.
Representatives from media group SMG and the Hearts Supporters’ Trust
met at a secret location last night to agree a buyout of the club.
The meeting ran for several hours and there was an agreement in
principle from SMG to sell their controlling interest.
The Trust, who number around 700, are now also understood to have in
place pledges in excess of £2million.
And their shares – along with those of former chairman Leslie Deans and
Robert McGrail, who both want Robinson out – would be enough to give
them a majority in the club.
That would give them the power to veto the move to Murrayfield at an
EGM and to pass a vote of no confidence on the board and Robinson. They
would be forced to resign and the unpopular chief could even jump
before he is pushed by the fans’ coup.
One source close to the consortium said last night: “If all goes well
we hope that the take-over could be all but complete by the weekend.
“SMG want out of this. They’ve been embarrassed by the way Robinson’s
played his cards.
“But if he tries to push through a deal for Murrayfield, and calls an
EGM himself to try and scupper this, then he has basically signed his
own P45.
“The Trust will hold that 20 per cent share SMG have and will be
entitled to a seat on the board.
“They will sell the shares, sell their entitlement to the £4.5m debt,
and the supporters will own that debt – but as they are fans they won’t
cash it in.
“Robinson will be out and the club will be back in the hands of the
supporters who are the lifeblood of it.”
The most likely candidates to help bankroll the deal are the
Co-operative Bank who already back fans’ group Supporters Direct, and
could prove crucial to any deal going through.
However, Mirror Sport can reveal HBoS and the Royal Bank of Scotland
are also interested in helping the group win a controlling share of the
club.
The deal, which could be rubber-stamped in days, would see SMG sell
their interest in the club, along with somewhere in the region of £4m
worth of debt. But what to do with that debt would be up to the Trust,
in effect writing it off, winning vital breathing space for the
debt-laden Edinburgh side.
Should the sale go ahead, a number of options would then be looked at
for the club.
McGrail has already made an offer to the current board to buy
Tynecastle and lease it back to the club, and that move will now go
ahead.
Edinburgh City Council is also believed to be on the verge of
submitting plans to redevelop the whole area.
That will include plans to demolish and rebuild Tynecastle High School
and McLeod Street nursery, and the sale of the road department depot at
Russell Road.
And that would allow the club to examine the possibility of eventually
building a new 20,000 seater stadium just yards from the current site,
which few Hearts fans want to leave.

**



Categories: Daily Mirror articles

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