AFTER a fraught few days, Hearts are confident that they will be able to pay the £450,000 tax bill due by the close of play on Thursday.
It will stave off the immediate threat of liquidation but director Sergejus Fedotovas has still launched a withering attack on HMRC, who he says have threatened the existence of the club and shown “no understanding at all”.
Suggesting it is trying to make a point at the expense of the capital club, who are also being chased for a further £1.75 million, he said: “They will never tell us why they are doing this. Maybe they see Hearts as an easy example. Maybe they’re thinking ‘OK, we’ll sacrifice a club to achieve something else, to show to other people’. It’s difficult to say because in my view there is no logic in this.
“Through our history our payments towards HMRC have been in the region of £30m over the last five, six, seven years. We paid that because this club brought in big players and paid them big wages and paid a lot of tax on that. Is that a clear benefit? I would say yes, especially when you consider this money came from abroad, it was not money that was generated here.”
Sent to Scotland in place of majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov, to address the concerns of fans and address the media, he admitted that Hearts have been late with several payments before, but said the important fact is that they have always paid up eventually. “It’s a bit of a crazy situation,” Fedotovas added. “Is this someone’s personal position, is it because they are impatient? Is it because they don’t want to put up with this? If we don’t pay this bill and HMRC liquidate this club I don’t know how much they will be able to get because I am not a professional person in this matter. But if they don’t liquidate this club they’ll get £450,000 and then more monthly payments for many years to come. So where is the logic?”
Hearts will seek to pay the £450,000 bill this week, with the majority of the cash expected to come from fans. It is thought around £200,000 has already been raised through tickets sales and subscriptions to the share issue.
Any shortfall is likely to come in the form of a loan from Romanov, or by deferring payment of players’ wages.
Salaries are due to be paid on Friday but Fedotovas admitted the club may consider delaying.
“We will think about it but hopefully that will not be required,” the Hearts director said, “but we are considering everything in order to have a number of options available to us to manage the situation.”