The Annual General meeting of the Association was held on the 27th January 2011 in the Gorgie Suite in front of 90 members.
In a surprise addition to the published agenda we were delighted to welcome Mr Romanov, who had only stepped off the aeroplane an hour previously on a 48 hour visit to Edinburgh. He immediately took to the stage and spoke openly for half an hour on his experiences since taking over the club. He was also happy to take questions from the members and fully answered questions on a range of subjects including players, football agents and of course the club’s stadium redevelopment plans. He seems keen to welcome additional investment into the club from other parties. It has always been an ambition of the Association to welcome Mr Romanov to one of our meetings and the members present were delighted at the time he gave us in a very busy schedule and the openness with which he answered our questions.
Following the AGM business (of which more later) we welcomed Vitalijus Vasiliauskas, a Main Board Director, and David Southern, Managing Director, on to the stage to face the member’s questions. Again a number of topics were covered. Perhaps the most topical item was SPL reconstruction and David, who has been involved in meetings with the other clubs with the SPL as well as accompanying Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPL, to a meeting with Mr Romanov in Lithuania was the right man to update us on the latest developments. While it would appear that most football fans are in favour of an SPL of 14 or 16 teams, the SPL continue to favour two leagues of 10 teams, and their announcement recently that there was broad agreement for this structure seems to be premature as several clubs, including Hearts, would prefer a larger League. There is unlikely to be a vote on this until at least March as, apart from the League structure, there still requires to be decisions on cash allocations to the SPL Clubs (at the moment this considerably favours the Old Firm) and TV rights.
Vitalijus gave an update on the progress of the development of the new Stand. Planning permissions are ongoing . Although the price of land required has reduced considerably, there is an issue of the nearby Distillery which was thought to be relocating but there some doubt about this and as there is no written agreement , this has become a complication. Discussions on the purchase of the land to build the new Stand are going ahead and Vitalijus expects there to be a clearer picture by the end of the season.
Disappointment was expressed at our early exit from the Scottish Cup and the closing of the Wheatfield Stand for the game against St Johnstone. David explained that it was impossible to come to an agreement with St Johnstone regarding ticket prices for the match and as a result the Club was forced to charge over £30 for fans to sit in the Wheatfield Stand. David felt that for a Scottish Cup tie this was too much for fans to pay and the decision was made to close the Wheatfield Stand for the match. The resultant savings on staffing and security meant that Hearts broke even financially on the match. The crowd for the tie was just over 6000 which was what was anticipated.
There was some questions about the time it takes to buy match tickets, particularly for away matches, by telephone, some members complaining about having to wait before being connected to an operator. David took notes on the complaints and promised to look into the matter.
To sum up, for the Association to have the Majority Shareholder, Vladimir Romanov, Main Board Director Vitaijus Vasiliauskas and Managing Director David Southern all attending our AGM was a fantastic compliment to the Association. All of them played their part by answering our questions fully and clearly which made for a most entertaining and informative evening for those attending .
Following the AGM the Committee going forward will be as follows:
Chairman Bill Alves
Vice Chairman Derek Ormston
Secretary Rab Currie
Treasurer Sandra Alves
Committee Members: Cheryl Currie, Lisa Paterson, Graham Shaw, Ron Smart and Craig Stewart.
It was agreed at the AGM to make the following donations. Firstly, a donation of £4500 to Hearts Youth Development to purchase an Endzone Video System. This allows for filming matches and training sessions from a camera on a tripod with a height of up to 10 metres and will compliment the video analysis equipment already in use, purchased by the Shareholders Association. John Murray, Youth Academy Director is very keen to have this equipment which can be used by all youth teams as well as the first team squad. Secondly a donation of £500 to the Erskine Home in Edinburgh to be used to develop the gardens at their Gilmerton Residential Home. Erskine, of course is the current chosen charity of Hearts.
The Committee has decided that unfortunately it will be necessary to increase the cost of the meal to our members and guests at the monthly dinners to £15 for members and £17 for their guests. This is due to the increase in VAT and general administration costs. This is the first increase in the dinner charges since January 2007.
Members will be pleased to hear that the annual subscription is to remain at £12 for members and £8 for those aged 60 and over. Subscriptions are due now.
Income from the raffle at the AGM was £195 which was an excellent result from the 90 members attending. Thank you to those who bought tickets and also to those who donated prizes. The winner of the Director’s Box Raffle was Andy Grant. Well done Andy!!
The club has kindly donated the Poppy Jersey worn by Callum Elliott to the Association which we are going to raffle in the coming months. This will be drawn at the Player of the Year dinner in April. Tickets will go on sale from the February dinner.