HEARTS director Sergejus Fedotovas has praised the supporters’ response to the share issue scheme but warned the club are still short of funds to complete the season.
Troubled Hearts launched the scheme, designed to raise £1.79 million, on the day a £1.75m tax dispute was revealed, one of a myriad of financial difficulties at Tynecastle.
The most pressing is the winding-up order for a £450,000 tax bill which is due next week, and something Fedotovas previously warned could consign Hearts to history.
In a Q&A on the club’s official website, Fedotovas said: “The effort is outstanding and in my view represents one of the best examples in the world of fans’ support for a football club.
“It is what we were aiming for, as it was required to preserve the club.
“And I need to be clear; we are still trying to reach half way through what is required. Many important challenges lie ahead. We are still short of covering our wage and tax bill undertakings for the season.”
Hearts have begun discussions with Supporters Direct Scotland over fan ownership, while a similar scheme – led by Alex Mackie’s Foundation of Hearts group – made an offer which was rejected.
Fedotovas revealed all reasonable offers for the club will be considered, with the leasing of Tynecastle by the current owners an option. Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov would also consider writing off the debt of more than £20 million should the right offer be received, Fedotovas claimed.
A price was not mentioned for the stake held by Romanov’s UBIG investment vehicle. Fedotovas said: “The current owners did not highlight preferences of any deal, so a reasonable proposal will have a way forward given it reflects the value of the club and is acceptable in principle. Apart from the terms being acceptable to the current owners, the buyer will need to demonstrate they are a fit person to run the club and have a realistic plan for running the club successfully.
“As a possible option, the club may be sold and the stadium may remain in ownership of UBIG and leased to the club. In this way the value of the deal for the football club only will be reduced and debt repayment will be linked to the stadium.”
On the prospect of writing off the debt, Fedotovas said: “It depends on the deal. If the buyer is willing to get the club for nothing like the Foundation of Hearts has tried then there should be no expectation of the debt being written off.
“UBIG has acquired the club with a similar amount of debt and a similar financial situation by paying a consideration for the shares.
“In my view, the price is the value of the club which is acceptable to the present owners.
“It is normal that every individual sees this value in a different way but the major thing is that it should be reasonable. The offers which we have received until now were opportunistic rather than reasonable.”
Further offers may be forthcoming, according to Fedotovas.
He added: “Things may change next year if bidders will reconsider their position or new bidders will emerge, and I know that some people are actively considering things in the background.
“We are working on improving the business of the club to make it more competitive and more attractive to investors.”