ANN BUDGE admits she’s hoping solid foundations behind the scenes can allow the team to regularly qualify for European football
The Hearts owner has revealed that turnover is close to reaching £14million for the current financial year, an increase of nearly £7.5m from when she first took over in 2014, and a rise from the £12.1m posted in the most recent set of accounts.
The £20m redevelopment of Tynecastle, including the building of a new main stand to take the capacity to more than 20,000, has allowed the Gorgie outfit to grow their revenue streams.
And after plunging into administration in 2013 as Vladimir Romanov’s reign came to an end, Budge admits the club are now in rude health.
She said: “We are not targeting modest growth this year, we are targeting aggressive growth.
“We are now in a position where we can see a genuine return on our investment.
“We are controlling our overheads, and our staff costs will rise because, as we open more suites and expand our hospitality, that will require staff.
“There are also our footballers’ bonuses – which I sincerely hope to be paying.
“Since I came in, we have budgeted every year to make a small profit, and we have achieved that.
“As a sign of how far we have come in the last few years, turnover was £6.5m when I took over, and this year we are looking to do not much shy of £14m.
“We are in a very good place.
“We still have a three-year plan, so it doesn’t stop. We know what we want to achieve for the following year and the year after.
“I think I can say on behalf of the board that we feel we are in good shape and the future looks secure.”
Hearts led the Premiership until November when debilitating injuries to key players began to take their toll.
Craig Levein’s side are in fifth place still only six points adrift of leaders Celtic following the recent derby victory over Hibs, and Budge insists the club are eyeing a return to the Europa League following a three-year absence.
She added: We are targeting a top-four finish because we all want to get back to regular European football.
“The supporters don’t need me to tell them that we started the season brilliantly – top of the league after 10 games.
“Equally, we have had some tough moments in the last couple of months in large parts – not exclusively – because of completely unprecedented injuries.
“I have never seen anything like it.
“Every time I pick up the phone to Craig, I worry that he is going to tell me about another one.
“But players are coming back. Christophe Berra and Steven Naismith are back, and we are confident we will have others back, perhaps as soon as the January break.
“From then on, we will hopefully put in a strong challenge to get back into Europe.”