HEARTS have openly criticised some of their players for refusing to terminate their contracts early. In a statement on the club website regarding the latest salary delay, players whose deals expire this summer were accused of stagnating and taking money “while offering very little or nothing in return”.
Officials at Tynecastle discussed severance packages with David Obua and Suso Santana prior to the January window, however both opted to remain in Edinburgh until their contracts finish in June. This irked Hearts and, in a statement on club finances, players were criticised for not leaving when given the opportunity. “It is unfortunate that it was outwith the power of the club to persuade some remaining fringe players to leave early as they elected to stagnate, preferring to take the club’s money while offering very little or nothing in return,” read the statement. “This is an issue that the club will resolve to a large extent at the end of the season and at that point we would expect that payment delays should be eradicated.”
Hearts maintain that all members of the playing staff will be paid in full before the end of the month. The club rejected any suggestions that they are financially unstable and stressed that parent company Ukio Bankas Investment Group remain supportive. In the statement, it was also made clear that a significant reshaping of the first-team squad will take place this summer, with several players expected to be moved on. Hearts maintain that they will still remain amongst the top three clubs in terms of playingbudget next season. “Hearts today (Friday) rejected any funding doubts following confirmation that the playing squad would not receive their wages,” began the statement. “The club expects players to be paid before the end of March and players were informed of this yesterday.
“It is important to note, however, that the club has nothing whatsoever to do with Ukio Bankas despite continual inaccurate reporting in the media. Ukio Bankas was a sponsor of the club several years ago. Hearts is controlled by the privately-owned company Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe (UBIG), not Ukio Bankas. UBIG continue to support the club, albeit at an agreed reduced level to previous seasons, and we remain confident that while Hearts continues to improve its own financial performance, the club continues to have the security of knowing that UBIG remains firmly supportive. UBIG provides the club with funding at times where the funding to football clubs is unavailable from any other providers, keeping all financial debt in the group, acting as additional assurance for the future of Hearts.
“Hearts, like almost every other football club in the country, is attempting to weather a turbulent few months which have seen downward pressure on income streams from commercial operations and matchday ticket revenues. The directors do, however, believe there are positive prospects for the club to meet its ultimate goal of achieving self sustainability and the evidence of progress – even in such a challenging economic environment. – include corporate deals with businesses such as shirt sponsor Wonga, retail partner SRM and hospitality and event partner Saltire.
“The January transfer window did not deliver to expectations but still Hearts has been successful in gaining valuable transfer deals in excess of £2 million since the start of the season from the sale of three first-team players and we expect to gain further revenue in the new transfer window with the club’s top players continuing to attract serious attention of clubs in England and Europe. The club is very confident that we shall be able to not only maintain the quality of the squad but also improve it and do it more efficiently than previous years aiming to remain as one of the top three spenders.
“The marketplace has changed significantly in favour of clubs, as opposed to players and their agents, and we fully expect to reduce the playing staff salary bill towards recommended industry standard levels. This is important as the club has been moderately successful in agreeing mutual early terminations with players which assisted eight players to exit the club in January and allowed those players to develop their careers elsewhere.”