A GROUP of Hearts supporters have held tentative talks with the club about a prospective takeover from controversial owner Vladimir Romanov.
It’s thought the group have met with club director Sergejus Fedotovas – Romanov’s right- hand man – both before and after the cash-stricken Gorgie outfit last week issued a desperate plea for help in the wake of being hit with a winding-up order over an unpaid £450,000 tax bill. Some of those actively involved in potentially launching a takeover bid are described as having ‘business interests’.
The group, for the time being at least, are keen to keep their identities a secret, owing to the sensitive nature of talks. It is not clear what response, if any, they have had from Romanov although the Russian-born businessman in the past has been perceived as notoriously difficult to negotiate with.
Last November, Romanov, who assumed control from Chris Robinson in 2005, slapped an unrealistic £50 million price tag on Hearts even though the club’s last financial results revealed a debt of £24 million. The banker has lost interest in football and through his investment company, UBIG, is no longer willing to fund Hearts out of his own pocket.
That’s why the Tynecastle outfit have been pushed to the brink of extinction through the hefty tax bill that is due in the coming days.
Fedotovas said at the weekend that Romanov was still waiting for someone to make him a serious offer for his majority shareholding. Fedotovas said: “I think Mr Romanov will have a discussion with anyone willing to invest or buy the club. The only difficulty is that there are a lot of people pretending they want to buy this club and pretending they have the money. They’re not able to demonstrate that they would be able to support the business.”
Following frenzied cash-raising efforts by the club’s fans since Wednesday’s plea was issued, it is estimated Hearts are around halfway to raising the money to stave off a winding-up order.
The outlook for Romanov’s Ukio Bankas was not looking good yesterday, however, after the Lithuanian company’s shares fell to an eight-year low on the Vilnius stock exchange.
The business has now lost a quarter of it’s value in a month. Shares fell seven per cent to just e0.12.