TIME and again Hearts manager John McGlynn yesterday spoke of requiring to remain “optimistic” and “as positive as possible” in the face of potential financial meltdown that the club’s hierarchy have starkly warned threatens the very existence of the club.
But the Tynecastle manager’s sombre countenance betrayed very different emotions as he revealed the chain of events on Wednesday that saw him learn that if the club do not find £450,000 to avoid a winding-up order by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs over a tax bill, they might not survive beyond next week’s game against St Mirren. It was a shock not only to Hearts supporters but also to McGlynn, who admitted he was unaware of the gravity of the situation the club now face.
McGlynn faced the media at Broughton High School in Edinburgh after his side were paired with Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a Scottish Communities Cup semi-final tie that there is no guarantee they will be around to fulfil in the last week of January.
“Everyone got a group email from the football club to make us aware of what was going on and then it went up on the website. I would have to say I was surprised,” he said.
“It’s a critical situation. When you’re told it could be the club’s last game then that’s very critical. I think everyone was taken aback. You would be if you read that you’re maybe two games away from going bust.
“I didn’t know the full severity of it. I knew the club was in bother and I’ve tried in a few of my press conferences to get a message out asking people to back the football club and come to the games.
“The late wages was the main thing [that told me there were real problems]. A lot of it is private and I can’t go into more detail than what is in the statement. I don’t know if money’s going to come in within the timescale that HMRC are looking for it. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
“But I must remain positive. I look at Rangers and they are still in the Third Division. I’m not suggesting we should go to the Third Division, but at least they are still here. They’re still playing. I’m not suggesting we are Rangers, or are going to be a Rangers. There are still transfer fees to come in here and gate money from big games so I’ve got to remain optimistic. But the way the statement is worded, the fans need to get behind the club. I have to remain upbeat. If the manager of the club doesn’t remain positive then we’re in trouble. We’ve got games to play against Inverness and St Mirren.
“Obviously I want this club to still be around for the semi-final. We’ve just been drawn in it and we’ve done well to get there. We’ve beaten Dundee United and Livingston and it’s a case of everyone rallying round to make sure we are still here by the time of the semi-final. It’s a decent draw and the fact the game is being played at Easter Road means the fans don’t have far to travel.”
McGlynn said the wage cuts that Rangers’ staff accepted after the Ibrox club had gone into administration could be a possibility “but it’s not got to that stage yet”.
“If I had a way of raising that type of money I’d do it but that’s not my forte. I’ve got to rely on the board of directors doing their utmost to sort it out. They’ve issued an emergency call and we hope the fans respond. The players and I have bought shares and if there’s anything more we can do we will do it.
“I hope [the fans] when they see this is not a bluff, that this is reality, will rally round. There’s a lot of hardship right now but if everyone clubs together we can save this football club. It’s a big ask and we can’t control the timing of this [before Christmas] but it’s our hour of need.
“If people do have the money and they have Hearts in them please donate. I know someone at another SPL club who has bought two tickets to the St Mirren game and they’re not even coming.”
McGlynn would not comment on whether ultimately the owner Vladimir Romanov would be willing to step in if the alternative was Heart of Midlothian Football Club going under. Yet, whatever happens, the former Raith Rovers manager maintained he will never think better of accepting the job at Tynecastle in the summer. “If I die tomorrow I’ll die having been the manager of Hearts and there’s not many people can say that,” he said. “So I’ve no regrets at all at taking this job.”
McGlynn’s desperate hope is that he doesn’t end up being the person who can go to his grave saying he was the last Hearts manager.