THE former Livingston owner Angelo Massone has lodged a £4.5 million bid for Hearts.
The Rome-based lawyer is said to be acting on behalf of an Italian consortium which has now put a formal offer to legal representatives of Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov.
Their bid is separate to the work of the Foundation of Hearts consortium, which is working to achieve a fan-led takeover. The group, led by businessman Alex Mackie, is being backed by Hearts favourite Donald Ford and multi-millionaire IT guru Ann Budge among others.
However, Romanov has already rejected an offer by the Foundation of Hearts to pay a £450,000 tax bill in return for control of the club.
And the mutli-million-pound bid by the Italian consortium — which is conditional on the club being debt and liability free — is also expected to fall far short of Romanov’s valuation.
Massone, 41, said they were still awaiting a formal response to their offer – and suggested they could pool their financial resources with the Foundation of Hearts in order to end Romanov’s seven-year reign.
The ex-Livi chief was quoted in the Daily Mail saying: “Together with the other investors, we have written to Mr Romanov’s lawyer with a formal offer.
“We do not know how much Mr Romanov wants for the club. But I believe there is no-one else in Scotland who can match the value of the offer we have made.
“I am willing and able to bring serious, wealthy, respected investors to Scottish football. We want to save Hearts and develop the club and make them a strong force once more. But we also want the supporters to have democratic representation on the board and be the real owners of the club.”
Massone insisted he was keen to win the trust of supporters by handing fans’ groups a ten per cent stake in the club, with a view to handing it over to them in the fullness of time.
“If we are not successful with our bid, then I am willing to help Hearts supporters to own the club instead,” he said.
“If Foundation of Hearts or Supporters Direct need financial help in terms of money to realise the dream of the fans owning the club, then I will speak seriously with them.”