HEARTS say they have paid “the majority” of the £100,000 owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, and are confident they will be in a position to pay off the balance in the coming days.
The Tynecastle club has not revealed the precise amount which was forwarded to HMRC, but it is understood that payment was made either late on Monday night or some time yesterday. The deadline for settlement in full was 5pm yesterday, with failure to comply being expected to trigger a winding-up order.
The message from the club is that, even if such an order is issued, the remaining debt will be paid off with some time to spare. Winding-up orders have to give eight days’ notice before they can be activated, and are dismissed by court order if settlement is reached within that period of time.
Hearts’ inability to make the payment on time could trigger sanctions from the Scottish Premier League in accordance with the financial regulations introduced last summer. But, like the winding-up order, those sanctions should be lifted automatically once the bill from the Revenue was settled in full.
Hearts have received no funding from parent company UBIG since early last year, leaving managing director David Southern to try to balance the books with income generated purely by the club. Renewal of season tickets has helped ease the financial position in recent weeks but revenue from other sources is also expected to help contribute to the payment of the current outstanding amount. Hearts have made significant cuts in their wage bill in recent seasons and have released several members of their playing staff over the past few weeks.
According to a club source, the bill of £100,000 was for outstanding PAYE contributions – not, as reported in The Scotsman yesterday, part of the £500,000 due to HMRC as part of a settlement reached late last year. But, whatever the precise nature of the debt, the fact remains that the club has been unable to meet in full its obligations to the tax authority as they arise.
In addition to the half-million-pound bill, which was settled last month, Hearts have two sums of the same amount which will fall due at the same time in the following two years. The club says it now has a monthly schedule of payments in place to ensure that it complies with its commitments.
Meanwhile, Spanish club Celta Vigo have been announced as Hearts’ first opponents in the pre-season tournament in Ballymena next month. A Liverpool XI and the home team Crusaders are the other teams in the four-club competition, which will get things under way on Wednesday, 24 July.
Hearts and Celta will meet at The Showgrounds the following evening, with the kick-off at 7.45pm. The Tynecastle club will then play either Liverpool or Crusaders two days later.
Celta were 17th in La Liga last season, a point clear of the relegation places. Tickets for the tournament will be on sale from Ticketmaster from Monday.