The group of Hearts fans bidding to gain control of the club yesterday reiterated their commitment to trying to acquire the majority shares held by Ubig (Ukio Bankas Investment Group) in the Tynecastle club.
With majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov’s Lithuanian bank Ukio Bankas having been placed in administration, the Foundation of Hearts (FoH) steering group appeared to have been sidelined by Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas, who said that Tynecastle officials would continue to work with Supporters Direct Scotland, an umbrella organisation for fans’ trusts.
But Alex Mackie, the chairman of FoH, yesterday insisted the group were “moving forward positively with our plans”.
There are plans to meet a Scandinavian consortium later this week amid further concerns caused by the problems of Ukio Bankas.
“Ukio Bankas being placed in temporary administration and last night’s announcement of its insolvency and the permanent termination of its banking licence have added additional concern to an already challenging and confused situation,” said Mackie.
“There is a lack of clarity as to the commercial relationship between Ukio Bankas, Ubig and the football club and for our part – as would be the case for any prospective buyer – due diligence dictates that the potential implications for the club have to be clarified”.
Mackie concedes that is “not a straightforward task”.
He also acknowledged that further difficulties have been placed in the way of the FoH due to the apparent unwillingness of Tynecastle officials to engage with the group.
Mackie, however, is confident that channels of communication remain open with the club, while he has also promised to report back to supporters after meeting with the Scandinavian consortium.
FoH is continuing its strategy of accumulating financial pledges from individual fans designed to determine a future budget for the club under supporters’ ownership.
“We will only table a bid when we have sufficient and satisfactory financial and other relevant information,” said Mackie. “Although we signed a non-disclosure agreement with the current owners some time ago, we have very little of the information requested, while the last publicly available financial information – the audited accounts for the period to 30 June 2011 – is now almost 20 months out of date. Our priority now is to establish transparency and clarity.” The Ukio Bankas situation, added Mackie, was “game-changing”.