HEARTS’ all-time top goalscorer John Robertson is confident the club will not be relegated from the SPL this season but has accepted it is inevitable they will begin next term with a points deduction.
The SPL board will meet today to decide the fate of the Tynecastle club after their parent company, Vladimir Romanov’s Lithuanian investment arm UBIG, informed the Baltic state’s government that they deemed themselves insolvent.
SPL rules state that if any club, the definition of which includes that club’s owners, suffers an “insolvency event” then it could be hit with a sanction of a third of the previous season’s points total, rounded up. Should the SPL deem that an insolvency event has already started then that would mean Hearts face being relegated from the top flight.
But Robertson, who has spoken to officials at Hearts about the situation, is convinced that his old club will not be hit with a penalty this term, because UBIG has yet to be declared officially insolvent by a Lithuanian court.
That is something he admits looks highly likely to happen in time, and therefore he fears Gary Locke’s outfit will begin the new campaign with a major handicap.
He said: “Hearts can’t get relegated on Monday because UBIG are not insolvent at the moment. At this moment in time there is no insolvency event having taken place. That is yet to be decided. As it stands at the moment, and as it will stand on Monday on the completion of the fixtures, UBIG will still be trading.
“Hearts, at this moment in time, will finish where they finish, their points will be fine. They can have a chat about it (at the SPL), but they can’t have a vote on relegating Hearts on Monday because UBIG are not insolvent. Does this mean to say they won’t go insolvent and they won’t go into administration? Let’s be honest, at some stage, yes they will and at some stage yes they will go into administration. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
“That’s the day to make a decision, which would mean, my reading of it would be, that Hearts will stay in the Premier Division, but with minus points at the start of next season. We all knew this day was coming and it’s now come home to roost for Hearts fans, and I think the majority of them are ready for this day now.
“I’ve spoken to members of the club and they feel that they will survive in the SPL but will be starting next season with a points deduction.”
Romanov cut ties with Hearts around 18 months ago as his business empire began to crumble, a move that sparked the troubles of November’s winding-up order and led to the club launching a share issue, which was heavily backed by loyal supporters.
However, Robertson believes the lack of any financial backing from UBIG during that time means Hearts could make a plea to avoid any sanctions.
He added on BBC Scotland: “But Hearts could also argue a very good case here that they have not had any monies, for operational use, for wages, for the running of the club, for 18 months from UBIG. So, they’ve gone this whole season, particularly, and have not had one penny from UBIG, so they’ve not been dependent on their holding company to finance them.
“Yes, they did, but this club would not be alive right now if it was not for a tremendous effort from the fans, to raise upwards of £1.5 million all in, from the share issue, from merchandising, from tickets, from getting to cup finals. That has to be taken into account, and, technically speaking, Hearts could put forward the case that, at this moment in time, all their wages are up to date, all their bonuses are up to date, all their appearance money is up to date, all their staff members have been paid, and they haven’t used or needed or haven’t been given any UBIG money for 18 months now.”