AS the news of Hearts’ latest troubles emerged last night, outside Tynecastle Stadium there was little sign of the trouble brewing for the club, or the desperation felt by it’s supporters.
There was no baying mob burning football tops or effigies of the club’s Lithuanian owner.
Instead there were mixed feelings amongst the support, as many vowed to do whatever it took to keep the club afloat, while others suggested this was just the latest ploy by the club’s owners to get more money from the fans.
The latest twist in the sorry saga has seen the club plead with supporters to once more back the Romanov regime by turning out their pockets and savings accounts in a desperate effort to ward off administration and the potential demise of the club it will bring.
Hearts have urged fans to “invest in the share issue” and buy tickets for their upcoming series of games – warning that they ‘must fill the stadium for every game from now on to have any chance of avoiding future financial consequences’”.
In the bars and pubs surrounding the stadium last night fans offered a range of views on the emotive subject.
Raymond Melbourne, a 36-year-old scaffolder from Gorgie said: “Romanov knows for a fact how passionate us fans are for the club and that we will do all we can to stop it slipping into administration.
“I honestly don’t think he wants the club to go under either as the club is debted to his bank and he needs the money. He’s holding the club and the fans to ransom.”
And despite seeing the problems that have beset former SPL rivals Rangers, some even suggested administration could be the best way forward for the troubled club.
Scott McAuley, a 43-year old locksmith from Granton, said: “All the fans are just used to it by now, there’s now an air of ‘we’ve seen it all before’.
“I think administration might be the answer as we desperately need to get rid of him. Romanov has just stopped putting money into the club.
“Adminstration would perhaps see us lose out in the short term but gain in the long term.” However the issue of administration was a non-starter for 55-year-old IT manager Dave McLaren from Bonnyrigg, who said: “Romanov has been stuffed by the global recession and I can’t see a way out for him but I don’t think administration is the answer though.
“I just hope he comes around to the idea of selling it [the club] at a reasonable price.”
Lifelong Jambo Peter Martin Craig, 65, from Polwarth, said he was “sickened” by what has become of the club he holds dear. He said: “It really is dire. It is so sad to see the club like this. I honestly don’t know what is going to happen. I’m already a shareholder and I have a little money put away in a savings account which I might use to buy some more.”
Fellow fan Sean Bain, a 47-year-old salesman from Gorgie, was more clear in how he views the situation and said: “All I know is this guy is a robber baron and he’s holding the club to ransom, knowing that the guys who turn up each weekend for matches will always dig deep.” This view was echoed by Scott Clark, 41, from Stenhouse, who said: “We are used to it at this stage. If it can happen to Rangers then why can’t it happen to us. We’re not achieving massive crowds and we’re not playing well, these things don’t help when the club has such a massive problem with cashflow.”
A more optimistic tone was set by John Anderson, 45, a joiner from Gorgie, who said: “I’m not so sure he wants us to go under like other fans are saying. For starters he’d lose the land and in its location how much would that be worth alone? He’s not a multi-millionaire for nothing, I think we’ll be see off this winding-up order.”
Fellow drinker in the Tynecastle Arms, just yards from the stadium, Mike Wilkes, a 48-year-old tiler from Gorgie said: “Romanov deals with everything whichever way he pleases and he’ll do so again here. He knows well how to play the system. I’m not too worried about the winding-up order the £1.75m tax bill is another kettle of fish though.” Kenny Chapman, 67, from Carricknowe has been a fan of the club since the age of five and he perhaps best summed up the fan loyalty which many feel the owner has come to rely upon when he revealed: “I find that the view among fans is mixed, some are in despair others are not so surprised. My son and I were about to buy shares in the club and he rang me today to ask whether I had heard the news, we’re still going to go ahead and buy them.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Hearts pay up £449,700 by Friday: Necessary funds could be raised by the club temporarily ceasing the payment of bills, wages and creditors such as suppliers. Likely to need extra funds from fans buying tickets for matches months in advance. Immediate threat is lifted – but would face further debts, and have to face the £1.75m HMRC bill Hearts are challenging.
They come to a deal: HMRC agrees to accept a series of instalments from Hearts. The club would only have to raise a fraction of the costs initially and would escape the need to raise a large lump in a single week. But again still have the separate £1.75m HMRC bill to tackle.
Failure to pay by Friday: The Court of Session would appoint a provisional liquidator. As with Rangers, the liquidators would seek to run the club and start try and break even – leading to likely cuts in costs and players – to attract a buyer. If no buyer can be found the club would be stripped of
all assets, with proceeds going to creditors owed by Hearts.
Kennedy in frame for rescue bid
ONE of the men who tried to save Rangers today said he might “look into” a rescue bid for Hearts.
Brian Kennedy, pictured top, who owns rugby union side Sale Sharks and is reputed to have a £250m fortune, went to Tynecastle High School but supports Hibs. He was one of the Blue Knights who mounted a bid to take over the troubled Glasgow club.
When he was contacted by the Evening News about Hearts’ plight, he said it was the first he had heard of it and described it as “a terrible situation”.
He said: “No-one has approached me. I will maybe have a look into it.”
Asked if that meant he could consider buying the club, he said: “You never know.”
He said he could not believe Hearts would go out of existence for the sake of £450,000.
“If Hearts go down, the SFA are going to have to treat them the same way as Rangers and that would leave Scottish football bereft. It’s bad enough without Rangers but that would make the Premier League terrible.”
Former Hearts chairman, estate agent Leslie Deans, bottom picture, ruled out a role as saviour of the club. He said: “I’ve had my time as chairman and director and I’ve no intention to come back and mount a takeover bid. In my opinion it needs someone with deeper pockets.
“I would buy some shares in the current share issue but that would be the limit of my involvement. I hope this works out successfully but without an increase in revenue the picture is looking pretty bleak to me.”
“Everyone has to make a decision for themselves but if anyone cares for the club they should put to one side the ‘How did we get into this situation?’ for another day.
“There is a pressing urgency for an injection of capital into the company. Whether it’s buying shares or attendance at the next matches.”
Tweets pour in on bombshell at tynecastle
@grummy_grummy: Absolutely gutted at the statement from Hearts. A mix of shock, fear, anger but if our fantastic support work together we can
@KMcP77: It’s fair enough Hearts wanting and asking for our help, but this 17 Nov “deadline” reeks of a threat. 8 days to pay a tax bill? Em....?
@Craig_Hmfc: We’ve sold over 2,000 tickets in just over an hour for the St.Mirren game
@LeighG28: Just for the record, I WOULDN’T like to see hearts go bust! Would bring a massive loss to the city to lose the Edinburgh derby !
@WeeFrah: Unemployed. Redundancy money gone. Going to buy match ticket now. Will worry about eating later. Won’t let my club die. #hmfc
@RoryFlynn78: We need Leslie deans or that kind of group of people to save us now but I can’t see it
happening doomsday is here!
@ianhorsburgh: Wheres all these fans that lined the streets for our cup parades? We need them to go to a few games.
@MarkPryde: Hearts fans will invest in club - lots of passionate
supporters who will make sacrifices.
But important not
to guilt-trip those