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FM16: Heart Of Midlothian - Building on a solid Foundation

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Heart of Midlothian Football Club, commonly known as Hearts, is a Scottish professional football club based in Gorgie in the west of Edinburgh. It is the only Scottish Premiership club in the city, with Edinburgh derby rivals Hibernian playing in the Scottish Championship. Hearts are the oldest football club in the Scottish capital, having formed in 1874 by a group of friends from the Heart of Midlothian Dancing Club. The modern club crest is based on the Heart of Midlothian mosaic on the city's Royal Mile and the team's colours are predominantly maroon and white.

Hearts have won the Scottish league championship four times, most recently in 1959–60, where they also retained the Scottish League Cup to complete a League and League Cup double – the only club outside of the Old Firm to achieve such a feat. The club's 1957–58 league winning side, led up front by Jimmy Wardhaugh, Willie Bauld and Alfie Conn, Sr., who were affectionately known as The Terrible Trio, set the record for the number of goals scored in a league campaign (132) and became the only side to finish a season with a goal difference exceeding 100 (+103). Hearts have won the Scottish Cup eight times, most recently in 2012 after a 5–1 win over city-rivals Hibernian and the Scottish League Cup a total of four times, most recently in 1962 after a 1–0 victory against Kilmarnock. The most recent Scottish League Cup Final appearance was in 2013, when they lost to St Mirren 3–2, despite a double from Ryan Stevenson.

In 1958, Heart of Midlothian became the third Scottish and fifth British team to compete in European competition at the time. The club reached the quarter-finals of the 1988–89 UEFA Cup, narrowly losing out to Bayern Munich 2–1 on aggregate. More recently, Hearts were the first non-Old Firm team to achieve qualification to the UEFA Champions League in 2006.

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Hearts initially played at The Meadows, Powburn and Powderhall before moving to the Gorgie area in 1881. They moved to their current Tynecastle site in 1886.

The all-seated 17,529-capacity Tynecastle Stadium in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh has been the club's home since 1886. Tynecastle Stadium has hosted nine full Scotland international matches, although only two of these games occurred after the Second World War

Many Hearts supporters ask why Hearts named their ground Tynecastle. The answer is after the Tynecastle Tollhouse at the entrance to the grounds of Merchiston.

Hearts' average attendance by supporters during the 2014–15 season was just short of 16,000, With the home support a sell out during the season. This was comfortably the third highest figure in the country, ahead of clubs like Aberdeen, Dundee United and city-rivals Hibernian, and only behind Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers. Important matches, particularly the Edinburgh derby, European fixtures and games against the Old Firm, always see Tynecastle at or very close to full capacity.

Owner Anne Budge has recently revealed details of a rebuild of the Old Main Stand, which would take the capacity to above 21,000. This is due to be started during 2016 at some point and should be completed by the summer of 2017.

A Brief History

Hearts and World War 1

In November 1914, Heart of Midlothian comfortably led the First Division, having started the 1914–15 season with eight straight victories, including a 2–0 defeat of reigning champions Celtic.

This streak coincided with the start of the First World War and the beginnings of a public debate upon the morality of continuing professional football while young soldiers were dying on the front-line. A motion was placed before the Scottish Football Association to postpone the season, with one of its backers, Airdrieonians chairman Thomas Forsyth declaring that "playing football while our men are fighting is repugnant". While this motion was defeated at the ballot box, with the SFA opting to wait for War Office advice, the noted East London philanthropist Frederick Charrington was orchestrating a public campaign to have professional football in Britain suspended, and achieving great popular support for his cause. The prime tactic of Charrington's campaign was to shame football players and officials into action through public and private denouncement. In response, sixteen players from Hearts enlisted in Sir George McCrae's new volunteer battalion, joining en masse on 25 November 1914. The battalion was to become the 16th Royal Scots and was the first to earn the "footballer's battalion" sobriquet. The group of volunteers also contained some 500 Hearts supporters and ticket-holders, 150 followers of Hibernian and a number of professionals footballers from Raith Rovers, Falkirk and Dunfermline. Military training was thus added to the Hearts players football training regime, and the side had a 20-game unbeaten run between October and February. However, exhaustion from their army exertions, twice including 10-hour nocturnal-marches the night before a league game, eventually led to a drop in form, as several enlisted players missed key games. Defeats to St Mirren and Morton allowed Celtic to usurp the Maroons and eventually claim the league title by 4 points.

The war claimed the lives of seven first team players: Duncan Currie, John Allan, James Boyd, Tom Gracie, Ernest Ellis, James Speedie and Harry Wattie.

There are two war memorials to mark this period. The McCrae's Battalion Great War Memorial in Contalmaison and the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial in Haymarket, Edinburgh donated to the city by the club in 1922. The latter was placed in storage due to the Edinburgh Trams work but has now been replaced a little to the east of its previous position. A further memorial commemorating the 1914 Hearts team has been proposed by the club. An annual pilgrimage is held by football supporters to Contalmaison every year, whilst Hearts hold their memorial services at Haymarket or, whilst it was in storage, at Tynecastle Stadium.

Romanov

In the midst of Hearts' financial difficulties in August 2004, Russian-Lithuanian multi-millionaire Vladimir Romanov entered into talks to take over Hearts in what was dubbed the "Romanov Revolution". Romanov had already made failed attempts to purchase Dundee United, Dundee and Dunfermline. Romanov offered the prospect of the club staying at a redeveloped Tynecastle, which was very attractive to Hearts supporters. At the end September 2004 Chris Robinson agreed to sell his 19.6% stake to Romanov. Romanov called an extraordinary general meeting in January 2005 so that the club could pass a motion to exercise the escape clause in the deal with Cala Homes. The backing of Leslie Deans and the McGrail brothers meant that the motion was passed with over 70% support. The sale of Robinson's shares was completed on 2 February 2005 after Romanov made financial guarantees that the club could continue to trade without selling Tynecastle. This sale increased Romanov's stake to 29.9%, giving him effective control of the club.Romanov's takeover was welcomed by a fans' representative. Romanov increased his shareholding in Hearts to 55.5% on 21 October 2005, and offered to buy the rest of the shares. Chairman George Foulkes sold his shares to Romanov and encouraged others to do likewise. Romanov eventually increased his majority share in Hearts to 82%.

Romanov's management of the club's debt became a cause for concern. During his takeover Romanov pledged to eradicate the club's debt. Soon after the takeover was completed, the debt was transferred from HBOS and SMG to the financial institutions controlled by Romanov, Ūkio bankas and UBIG. At the end of July 2007 the club were £36M in debt. On 7 July 2008, Hearts issued a statement that stated the club would issue debt for equity to reduce the debt by £12M. A further issue was completed in 2010. Since the takeover Hearts have failed to pay players wages on time on several occasions, and been threatened with administration twice due to failure to pay an outstanding tax bills with the bill finally being settled in August 2011. Results released for financial year ending 31 July 2010 showed that Hearts had made a small profit for the first time since 1999 although were still heavily in debt.

Hearts' first manager of the Romanov era was George Burley, who was appointed during close season by new chief executive Phil Anderton, who replaced Chris Robinson as chief executive. With their new manager and signings, Hearts got off to a tremendous start in the 2005–06 season. The team won their first eight league matches, equalling a club record set in 1914. Romanov shocked Scottish football by sacking George Burley on the following day whilst Hearts were sitting top of the SPL table, Hearts ultimately finished second. Hearts fans were led to expect a "top class manager" would replace Burley. Kevin Keegan, Bobby Robson, Claudio Ranieri and Ottmar Hitzfeld were all linked with the vacancy. Anderton, who had been making the approaches for these coaches, was sacked by Romanov on 31 October 2005. Foulkes, who had helped to bring Romanov to the club in the first place, resigned in protest at Anderton's dismissal. Romanov replaced both of them with his son, Roman Romanov. This has proved to be a feature of his time at the club with him going through nine permanent managers in seven years. The most recent managerial change came on 1 August 2011 when Jim Jefferies was sacked during his second spell at the club and replaced by former Sporting CP boss Paulo Sérgio.

Romanov stated that his ultimate aim is for Hearts to win the Champions League. Hearts competed in the Champions League during season 2006–07 but progressed only as far the second qualifying round before dropping down to the UEFA Cup. Since then Hearts have been unable to split the Old Firm for a second time to earn a Champions League place. In recent season Hearts target has been to finish third or above in the SPL.

Romanov also owned the Lithuanian club FBK Kaunas and Belarusian club FC Partizan Minsk. Several players have been loaned by FBK Kaunas to Hearts since Romanov acquired control of the club.

The club began experiencing severe financial problems in November 2011, which meant they were unable to pay the players' wages, and the club was put up for sale. The squad's October salaries were late and the November wages were paid twenty-nine days late, just one day before their December salaries were due. The December pay failed to arrive on time, and a complaint was lodged with the Scottish Premier League by the players' union. During this period the club advised fringe players they were free to leave the club. On 4 January 2012 the SPL ordered Hearts to pay all outstanding wages by 11 January 2012 and insisted that January's wages had to be paid on time on 16 January. Hearts paid all outstanding wages that day following the sale of Eggert Jónsson to Wolves. On 17 January, the day after Hearts' wages were due to be paid, it was revealed all players had been paid. Despite this, the SPL issued a statement saying Hearts had failed to pay all players on 16 January and an emergency board meeting had been called; Hearts refuted this, saying payment of the remuneration had been made to all players. On 7 November 2012, Hearts were issued with a winding-up order by the Court of Session in Edinburgh after failing to pay a tax bill on time.

In early June 2013, during the close season, a Hearts media statement stated that they would need to raise £500,000 in capital to keep the club up and running during the break between seasons. With no match day income coming in and a lack of finance from owner Romanov, the club have been left in a position where they have had to put their whole squad up for sale.

On 17 June 2013, Heart of Midlothian began the process of entering into administration with debts of £25 million, owing recently bankrupt Ukio bankas £15 million.

On 18 June 2013, a Scandinavian consortium offered to pay the club £500,000 immediately in return for a share of any future transfer income from up to 12 players but was rejected by Hearts. The process of entering administration began on 19 June 2013 when the club's parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG), filed papers at the Court of Session on Edinburgh for accountancy firm BDO to be named as administrators.

Administraion & The Foundation Of Hearts

On 17 June 2013 Hearts announced that they had lodged court papers stating their intention to enter administration, and on 19 June 2013 the administrators BDO were appointed to run the club. This meant that the club was unable to register players over 21 until February 2014 at the earliest. As long as they were still in administration they would not be able to bring in players of any age.

As well as the signing embargo, Hearts were to be deducted a third of the previous season's points tally which meant the club would start the 2013/2014 season with −15 points. During this period the BDO administrator Trevor Birch pleaded with Hearts fans to purchase season tickets and stated that they needed to sell at least another 3000 season tickets to raise another £800,000 to keep the club running and avoiding liquidation. The fans met this number and took total season ticket sales beyond the 10,000 mark, giving the club more survival time. A deadline of 12 July 2013 was set for interested parties to put in formal bids for the club, there were three bids entered for the club which were received from the supporters group "The Foundation of Hearts" the second was from a new company called "HMFC limited" which was backed by American firm Club Sports 9 and former Livingston FC owner Angelo Massone's through Five Star Football Limited.

On 15 August 2013, "The Foundation of Hearts" were given preferred bidders status to make a CVA with Hearts' creditors. The money that the foundation is using to purchase the club is coming from monthly donations from fans and it is likely that the foundation will receive an interest-free loan from a wealthy fan, which will be paid back using the monthly direct debts from the fans. On 2 December, Hearts' creditors agreed to the CVA deal proposed by "The Foundation of Hearts".

The club's relegation from the Scottish Premiership was confirmed on 5 April 2014. Hearts won 4–2 away to Partick Thistle, but St. Mirren beat Motherwell 3–2, making it impossible for Hearts to catch up.

On Monday 12 May 2014, The Ann Budge fronted Bidco 1874 took control of Heart of Midlothian Plc, Budge who fronted and financed the Bidco 1874 group which have taken over the reigns at the club became an unpaid executive chairwoman of the club. The Bidco group plan to hold the club for a possible five years before the fans backed Foundation of Hearts supporters group take control. The Foundation put in £1 million for the running of the club until the final legal exit of administration. The Foundation will then need to pay a further £2.6 million (£2.5m to cover the loan given by Bidco1874 Ltd to Hearts to finance the Creditors' Voluntary Agreement + £100,000 for the shares) to take 75% of the shares in the club and with that the running and decision making within the club. In addition, the Foundation has also committed itself to provide a further £2.8m (£1.4m per year for two years) working capital for the club. Funding for the deal comes from 8000+ people donating cash via a monthly direct debit.

The club officially exited administration on 11 June 2014 thus bringing an end to the reign of Vladimir Romanov who had been the majority shareholder since 2005.

Hearts earned an immediate return to the Scottish Premiership by clinching the 2014–15 Scottish Championship title with seven games remaining. Hearts remained undefeated for the first 20 league matches before a 3–2 home defeat to Falkirk ended that run. They won the title in impressive style winning 29 of 36 games, scoring 96 goals, conceding just 26 goals with a points total of 91. They finished the season 21 points ahead nearest challengers city-rivals Hibernian and 24 points ahead of third placed Rangers. The season included handing Cowdenbeath a joint club record defeat 10–0. At the PFA Scotland Awards, Hearts had six players named in Championship Team of the Year, two Young Player of the Year nominees, three Championship Player of the Year nominees, and Neilson shortlisted for Manager of the Year. Although the respective winners were Jason Denayer (Celtic), Scott Allan (Hibernian) and John Hughes (Inverness CT).

The Staff

The Squad

No. Position Player

1 Goalkeeper Neil Alexander

2 Defender Callum Paterson

4 Defender Blazej Augustyn

5 Defender Alim Öztürk

6 Midfielder Morgaro Gomis

7 Midfielder Jamie Walker

8 Midfielder Prince Buaben

9 Forward Soufian El Hassnaoui

10 Forward Osman Sow

11 Midfielder Sam Nicholson

12 Midfielder Billy King

13 Goalkeeper Jack Hamilton

14 Midfielder Miguel Pallardó

15 Goalkeeper Scott Gallacher

16 Midfielder Arnold Djuom

17 Defender Juwon Oshaniwa

18 Defender Igor Rossi Branco

19 Forward Juanma Delgado

20 Forward Gavin Reilly

21 Midfielder Kenny Anderson

22 Defender Jordan McGhee

23 Midfielder Danny Swanson

26 Midfielder Angus Beith

27 Forward Robbie Buchanan

28 Defender Liam Smith

30 Defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle

31 Midfielder Nathan Flanagan

35 Midfielder Sean McKirdy

38 Forward Russell McLean

41 Midfielder Callumn Morrison

44 Forward Dario Zanatta

77 Midfielder Ian Smith

Coaching Staff

Position Name

Head Coach Robbie Neilson

Ass. Coach Stevie Crawford

DOF. Craig Levein

Player/GK Coach Neil Alexander

U20 Coach Liam Fox

After winning promotion back into the SPFL Premiership, Hearts find themselves looking for a stable start in the top league. With the backing of the supporters and the FOH, they have a real chance of becoming a major team in the league, competing for the league trophy and both cups. With both Rangers and Hibernian languishing in the Championship it leaves them as easily the 2nd or 3rd biggest clib in the league behind Celtic and a well build Aberdeen squad.

The team has a great blend of youth and experience with the youth already playing a lot of first team football over the past couple years, due to the administration and transfer embargo. With the right transfers and tactics we can really push on and become the biggest team in Scotland and bring some glory to Tynecastle.

Players to watch

Alim Ozturk 22year old CB

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[video=youtube_share;3Ddw_eY87kM]

Callum Paterson 20year old DR/WB/M/AMR

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Sam Nicholson 20year old MRL/AMRL

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[video=youtube_share;XqQXSH7ILGY]https://youtu.be/XqQXSH7ILGY

Sam has recently been included in the top 100 young players to watch in the world this season

Jamie Walker 22year old AMLC/AMR

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With a transfer budget of £200k and a little bit spare in the wages you can bring in a cheap player or two, theres room for letting a few of the deadwood players go also to boost your budgets both in wages and transfer front.

Also the coaching side of the club is very threadbare so a an overhaul of that looms if you want to make the best of this club and its talent.

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