FOOTBALL finance expert Neil Patey believes the time for any potential Hearts buyers to strike is now as the future of Ukio Bankas approaches its judgement day tomorrow.
Patey, based in the Capital with Ernst and Young, feels with the stricken Lithuanian bank now in temporary administration and with a Lithuanian court set to rule tomorrow whether bankruptcy proceedings will be brought against Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov’s bank, any prospective investors should take the bull by the horns.
“It’s certainly time to get your funding and proposals together and then try to get the attention of the administrator,” Patey said. “He may have bigger things on his mind, but, if someone knocks on his door offering sensible value for an asset pledged to him, why wouldn’t you at least entertain the
“If a consortium contacted him wanting to make an
offer, I’m sure he would enter discussions to see if he’s going to get value. I don’t think he will immediately call the debt in because, frankly, he will know he’s not going to get it.
“He isn’t funding the club so it won’t cost him anything to let them continue trading until he can get value for the assets pledged to Ukio – Heart of Midlothian Football Club and Tynecastle Stadium. His best prospect of maximising value is to sell it, probably as a going concern.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, chairman of the fans’ working group seeking to wrest control from Romanov, called for more supporters to get behind the fans’ bid and continue to bring in pledges via the Foundation of Hearts
“We need to be putting together a bid for the club,” he said. “I would hope [rumours of administration] would have a bonding effect and increase pledges to our cause.
“There is an opportunity for fans to buy the club, but time is clearly of the essence.
“I’m not sure how accurate the speculation surrounding the club is, but I would encourage fans to get their pledges in, the next step would be converting those pledges to cash and then we can get a credible bid together for the club. We need to resolve the uncertainty – and the only game in town is this fans’ buyout.”
Murray continued: “The
reason the fans are so keen to buy the club is because of this financial uncertainty. It’s
going to continue because of the
nature of the company that owns the club.
“As I understand it, financing is agreed and secured, but I’m not surprised that there are stories about uncertainty. It will continue until new owners are in place and the finances of the club are transparent.
“It gives more impetus to the fans’ bid, which is more important than ever. It’s the only way to go. There’s no white knight ready to go to the rescue.”