SCOTLAND: Hearts in Crisis


Heart of Midlothian a proud Scottish club from Gorgie in Edinburgh, formed in 1874 – one of the Scottish games biggest club arguably the biggest outside the Glasgow two, are stuck in a deep financial crisis which seems to worsen by the minute.

This has all come to pass because of one individual Hearts’ Lithuanian banker and owner Vladmir Romanov – a man who had previously had bids rejected from three Scottish clubs to become their owner ; Dundee their cross street rivals and Fife outfit Dunfermline. Then in August 2004 Romanov entered into discussions with then Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson about acquiring his shareholdings in the club, Romanov eventually acquired the shares on the 2nd of February 2005 giving him a majority shareholdings in the club at 29.9%. The gallous Lithuanian wasted no time in snapping up the fans shares which took him to a shareholdings of 55.5% after that George Foulkes then chairman of Hearts sold his shares to Romanov too which gave him an overall percentage of 82%.

This takeover at the time made most Hearts fans overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of Romanov ending the clubs financial woes of the past, so much so it was backed by a fans representative, little did they now how it would end up in hindsight. Romanov reeled off his many false promises to the Hearts faithful ” We’ll win the Champions League in 5 years ” must have been without doubt his craziest promise, also his notion to re-develop Tynecastle Stadium which will come as no surprise to you that to this day it’s still not taken place. He also has been hauled up in-front of the SFA’s disciplinary panel for questioning referees claiming they give most of the big decisions in games in favour of the big two. Although that’s some of his unfulfilled promises under Romanov Hearts have won 2 Scottish cup’s and been in the qualifiers of the Uefa Champions League which they lost on their one and only tie to Greek side AEK Athens.

This also lead to Romanov hiring and firing no less than 11 managers in his time as the head honcho at the Jambos add to that aquring the services of others such as ; ex FC Porto Champions League winner Edgaras Jankauskas, Czech midfielder Rudi Skacel and re-signing Scotland International defender Andy Webster concerns started to grow about the state of the capital club’s financial state yet again. During this period Romanov again promised the fans of the club he would totally clear the outstanding debt. Yet in this period where he transferred the debt from HBOS to his own Ukio Bankas which would help reduce the clubs debt by £12m.

Even after that Hearts failure to pay their players for 2 months last season meant a complaint was logged to the SPL and the players Union, in turn Mr Romanov put all the Hearts playing squad up for sale in order to raise cash. During this Hearts were also threatened with a winding up order at the Edinburgh Court of Session over an unpaid tax bill.

In June of this year Hearts released a club statement informing the public things where in critical condition, with the club requiring £500,00 for the close season due to there being no match-day revenue to tap into. Also with Ukio Bankas going bust things are looking bleak for Hearts.

The 19th of June the day all this Romanov Circus came to a head when Hearts after much press speculation filed for administration. All the clubs players are indeed still up for sale and many of the 1st team squad have been made redundant. Hearts fans have responded positively snapping up 10k season tickets for next season a few well-known faces have also done their bit Alex Salmond Scotland’s first Minister and MP Alistair Darling have both purchased season tickets.

Due to this Administration even Hearts will start season 20013-14 off with minus 15 points next to their name, despite the embargo placed on them managed to just sign on-loan defender Danny Wilson on a permanent deal just before the papers were filed. He was named club captain by manager Gary Locke and asked for personal insurances from the administrators BDO that no jobs would be lost, due to him penning a contract.

The BDO have already rejected one bid for a Scandinavian consortium to purchase the club as they wanted a percentage on profit on up to 12 players who could be sold if the administrators accepted their £500k offer.

Earlier today the administrators reiterated a CVA may not be possible and that a ‘Newco’ route was still an option much like Rangers this time twelve months ago.

Regardless of what happens with all the financial troubles in Scottish Football losing another big club from the top flight is not worth thinking about for the future of the Scottish game. Even if Hearts have to follow Rangers down the newco route they will come back better and stronger.

At this present time those words won’t be any crumb of comfort to the fans of the Tynecastle club as they are staring the oblivion in the face with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel.


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