THE future of Hearts could be decided in the next 24 hours as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs decide whether to accept a payment plan to settle an outstanding tax bill or proceed with winding-up the Edinburgh club.
HMRC officials are considering a proposal that would see Hearts settle the £449,692.04 bill in staggered payments, starting with a down payment of around £250,000 by 5pm on Thursday. That is the deadline stipulated by rules surrounding the winding up order lodged at Edinburgh’s Court of Session.
Money raised by fans since last week would be used to fund the down payment. Further installments would come based on Hearts’ income from forthcoming home matches, television revenue and a £300,000 payment which is due by the end of the month from Rangers as part of David Templeton’s transfer to Ibrox in August.
Senior Hearts officials held critical talks with tax officials yesterday and put the plan forward as a way of settling the outstanding PAYE and VAT bill. HMRC will now decide whether to accept the proposal and let the club continue by withdrawing the winding up order.
The deadline by which payment must be received is close of business on Thursday and the Evening News has learned that HMRC are unwilling to grant Hearts any extension.
Club officials have held discussions with HMRC and said that liquidating Hearts makes no sense over a bill of less than £450,000. Since Vladimir Romanov took control at Tynecastle in 2005, a staggering £27million has been ploughed into the Inland Revenue by Hearts in tax payments. Most of it has come from a collection of highly-paid players, some of whom earned a salary not far off £1m a year.
Hearts have also stated that 135 jobs will be lost if the club is closed as players, coaches, physios and office staff will all be made redundant. Potentially, 200-300 other jobs could be affected in the Gorgie area as Hearts help fund local businesses on matchdays via the crowds which are drawn to Tynecastle.
Meanwhile, Hearts defender Darren Barr has been called into the Scotland squad along with St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson for tomorrow night’s friendly with Luxembourg.
Barr’s one and only cap to date came in August 2008.