Hearts: Mystery donors contribute £4.5m of stand redevelopment costs

Tynecastle main stand
Hearts initially expected the building of a new main stand to cost £12m, but the bill is now around £15m

Hearts owner Ann Budge says anonymous benefactors contributed £4.5m towards building Tynecastle's new main stand.

Budge told shareholders at the annual meeting that the final bill would be around £15m, £3m more than the initial estimate.

She said that the new stand should generate an extra £1m on match days.

Budge added that additional borrowing of £1.75m has been secured and may be required in January when a drop in income is expected.

"There are a number of people who have been incredibly generous," Budge said. "They are not seeking publicity so I won't say who they are.

"It's a number of individuals who quite simply like what is going on at the club. They want to be supportive of it.

"They like our Save the Children commitment and they like our Big Hearts charity. They are just supporters who want to keep supporting us as long as things are largely going in the direction they are going.

Hearts owner Ann Budge
Hearts owner Ann Budge says the club would not rule out selling the naming rights of the new main stand

"I'm pleased to say they think the club is being well run. They have essentially said as long as I'm at the helm and things are going the way they are going, they will continue to support us."

The Hearts owner says there are currently no plans to rename the new main stand, but if a commercial partner were to come along with "a lot of money" she would not rule it out.

The meeting was attended by around 400 shareholders, who were told by Budge that the club would continue to invest in their heritage and community projects, and their relationship with the club's business partners has "never been stronger".

Manager Craig Levein, who is also an executive director, described the last 12 months as a "turbulent time" and said that the responsibility for Ian Cathro's failure as head coach rests solely on his shoulders.

Levein insisted that he was glad to have taken over again in the dugout and after admitting that mistakes were made in the transfer market last January, he said that a new recruitment process has been introduced.

Hearts manager Craig Levein, right
Hearts manager Craig Levein, right, told the AGM that a new recruitment process is in place ahead of the January transfer window

He confirmed that he as the manager has the ultimate say on new players, but in his previous role as Director of Football he was there to support the head coach and to simply try to conclude a deal with a player or his agent that had been identified as one the head coach wanted to recruit.

Levein said the changes this year had been a challenge for the players, but the biggest plus has been the emergence of some of the youngsters into the first team. He expects another "six or eight" players to make the step up from the youth team to the first-team squad next summer.

Next week Hearts host Hibernian and will be seeking their first derby win since August 2014, with four draws and four defeats since then.

Levein told shareholders he was at a loss as to why this run has happened, but assured the room his team would "be ready" for the sell-out match at Tynecastle.

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