DESPITE the threat of further disciplinary action from the Scottish Premier League hanging over the club for non-payment of wages, Hearts manager John McGlynn yesterday confirmed that he would be prepared to defer another month’s salary in continued straitened times at Tynecastle.
McGlynn used the word “humbled” when asked to describe his feelings after Hearts fans raised £600,000 in a bid to keep their club in business. McGlynn and several players saw these efforts with their own eyes at a fund-raising event held at the Gorgie suite at Tynecastle on Sunday.
That day alone saw nearly £30,000 raised – all of which will be used to buy shares to be donated to the Hearts Youth Development Committee.
With enough money having been raised to cover the sum of just under £450,000 that is owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs by 3 December, attention now switches to the deadline of 16 December, when the playing staff’s salaries fall due. A sum covering two month’s worth of wages will be required with the SPL poised to re-examine the matter should Hearts default on their pledge to pay double wages on the next payday, after players and management agreed to defer their November pay.
The club is already operating under a transfer embargo. Asked yesterday whether he had worries about receiving the sum owed next month, given the close proximity of Christmas, McGlynn thanked the inquisitor for their “concern” and added that he had signed a deferral slip for a month, and so is “not anticipating any money before that”.
“If I get it any earlier, fine,” he added. “We’ll see.”
Stressing that he was speaking for himself, McGlynn then remarked that he would be prepared to defer another month’s wages if it meant helping the club at this troubled time. “If necessary, yes,” he said. “But that’s me. I’m not talking about anyone else, just me. I can’t talk for anyone else and it would not be right for me to do that.
“You are asking me my opinion, I can’t offer anyone else’s opinion,” he added.
Parent company Ubig, owned by Vladimir Romanov, have put ten per cent of their shareholding up for sale at 11p per share. A complete sell-out would raise £1.795 million for the club, with the sum generated so far coming in at around a third of that total. McGlynn is conscious of the burden that has been placed on the supporters as they continue fund-raising efforts. There cannot be any let-up, however, and McGlynn believes £1m could be the next target. He has appealed to those fans who have not yet been moved to contribute to consider doing so.
“Obviously the fans have rallied round buying tickets and shares and we hope the Celtic and Aberdeen games are sold-out as well, because we need the money keep coming in,” he said, with a capacity crowd having attended last Saturday’s 1-0 win over St Mirren. “£600,000 is an amazing amount of money but there is still a long way to go before the next milestone. Maybe the next target can be £1 million. How quickly can we get to a £1 million?
“I know it’s a big ask but all we can do is ask fans to keep putting their hands in their pockets, and I know you cannot keep hitting the same pocket,” he added. “I hope there are others out there who are still to decide, and maybe they can help us. There is a long way to go.”
Hearts have already turned down two bids for the club since the new wave of financial problems were revealed, after a winding up order was received by the club from HMRC. The club have pitched the share offer to fans in order to gauge the appetite for a more significant level of fans’ involvement at Tynecastle. McGlynn has welcomed this prospect. “In general it seems like the way ahead for a lot of football clubs,” he said. “Some have obviously gone down that road already.
“I’ve really got to totally concentrate on the football side of things and leave that to the boardroom,” he added. “But it seems that, if the club are talking that way, then it must be something they’re willing to do as well.”