Hearts administration: John Sutton made redundant

Hearts striker John Sutton has been made redundant by the club. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Hearts striker John Sutton has been made redundant by the club. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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JOHN SUTTON last night became the latest Hearts player to be made redundant after the striker failed to agree to take a wage cut.

That left administrators BDO with little option but to add him to the list of playing and non-playing casualties of the club’s current financial mess.

Fourteen administrative employees were let go last week, while Marius Zaliukas and Andrew Driver’s contracts have been cut short and two youth players are also being cut adrift.

With up to £750,000 needed to see Hearts through to the new season, fans were last week warned that more season tickets had to be sold. If they could not match the 10,000 sold last term, administrator Bryan Jackson warned that more players may have to go. But the club has been bolstered by a flurry of ticket sales and fundraising efforts, by players, staff, former players and fans, while Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson have all accepted a 50 per cent drop in salary to help the club out. However, with only one year of his contract remaining and other clubs interested in enlisting him, Sutton refused to follow suit and it was announced last night that he had left the club, with Motherwell already in talks to re-sign their former player.

That is a blow to manager Gary Locke, who welcomed the remainder of his squad back for pre-season training yesterday. But, already facing an uphill task thanks to the 15-point deduction incurred as a consequence of going into administration, he is grateful others have decided to take the monetary hit and stay to help the club in its hour of need.

“It would have been a tough job anyway, but you certainly have a better chance if your experienced players are here – we don’t have many left. I was absolutely delighted, as was everyone, with Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson’s attitudes towards staying here. I have nothing but admiration for what they have done.

“The last 10 days have been very difficult but I’m now surrounding myself with players who want to play for Hearts. These guys have shown they are willing to take a pay cut to play for the club so that tells you everything and I’m sure the supporters will be delighted to come along and support boys who are giving their all for the jerseys, which is what most Scottish football fans want. They are certainly going to see that from our squad this season.”

The administrators say they have spoken with a few parties interested in trying to buy the club and have set a 12 July deadline for all bids to be submitted.

BDO issued a sales memorandum to all groups that have expressed an interest and will continue to negotiate with them and any others that come forward in the coming weeks.

The club’s administrators are also continuing to liaise with administrators in Lithuania to ensure shares owned by UBIG, AB Ukio Bankas and Quantum are included in the sale, along with ownership of Tynecastle stadium.

Trevor Birch, joint administrator of Hearts and business restructuring partner with BDO LLP, commented: “Although I’m fully aware we will still have obstacles to overcome in order to resolve the share transfer issues, I believe it is important to announce a quick deadline so we can ascertain the level of serious interest and tease out any other interested parties that are out there.

“We look forward to working with all potential purchasers in the coming weeks.

“The support the club has received has been overwhelming: the generosity of the fans over the last week in buying season tickets, the support of those players taking pay cuts, the staff at the club who have not been paid last month’s wages, and Wonga, which has brought forward payment of its sponsorship money for the coming season. All these gestures have played their part in keeping the club afloat and giving it a lifeline. As administrators we thank them greatly for all their efforts.”

Fans had been led to believe that the Wonga payment amounted to over £1m, which would have safeguarded the club’s existence into the new league campaign but the reality is a five-figure sum, meaning more tickets sales and fundraising is required to get them to the point where new investors can assume control of the club.

“The reports [of a seven-figure sum] were a mile off the mark,” confirmed Locke, “but we’re absolutely delighted one of our main sponsors has come forward to try and help the club because it shows we’re all in it together.

“However, we still need the help of the fans and for season tickets to be sold. If we can do that then, along with the bit of money we’ve received from Wonga, it can go a long way to helping the club survive.”

SEE ALSO: Hearts administration: Wonga give cash boost

Club bid deadline

Hearts administrators BDO have set a July 12 deadline for prospective bidders to register interest in buying the club.

Trevor Birch, joint administrator of Hearts and business restructuring partner with BDO LLP, said: “Although I’m fully aware we will still have obstacles to overcome in order to resolve the share transfer issues, I believe it is important to announce a quick deadline so we can ascertain the level of serious interest and tease out any other interested parties that are out there. We look forward to working with all potential purchasers in the coming weeks.

“The support the club has received has been overwhelming: the generosity of the fans over the last week in buying season tickets, the support of those players taking pay cuts, the staff at the club who have not been paid last month’s wages, and Wonga, which has brought forward payment of its sponsorship money for the coming season.

“All these gestures have played their part in keeping the club afloat and giving it a lifeline. As administrators we thank them greatly for all their efforts.”