Fedotovas: Romanov still controls Hearts shares

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HEARTS director Sergejus Fedotovas has said that club owner Vladimir Romanov still has control of his 79 per cent shareholding.

A report from Lithuania last week said that the shares had passed from being controlled by Ubig, Hearts’ parent company in which Romanov still has a controlling interest, to Ukio, the bank which is about to enter bankruptcy proceedings. If true, that would mean that the Ukio administrator now owned the major share in the Tynecastle club.

“As far as we know it is false,” Fedotovas said when asked by the Edinburgh Evening News about the report. “The club had no indication this has happened.”

Fedotovas also insisted that the £15million which Hearts owe Ukio would not be recalled immediately. And he suggested that the attempt to unravel Ukio’s assets and liabilities could take months. If confirmed, both those things would remove the threat of Hearts going into administration this season.

“£15m will not be called automatically,” he continued. “We plan to perform to the agreement and seek, in co-operation with the administrator, long-term future solutions. We believe that a sensible solution can be reached. Ukio Bankas is a relatively big business. [The liquidation] may take many months.”

While they owe almost £25m in total, Hearts are confident that they are getting their own internal costs under control. They have not received extra funding from Ubig since February last year, and have made significant reductions to their wage bill since. Fedotovas said that such a process would continue over the close season.

“The wage bill will drop significantly in summer,” he said. “We plan that enough cash will be available to take us to the start of the next season.”

Hearts believe it is important that they can demonstrate they are a going concern, as this could persuade the Ukio administrator that an attempt to recall the debt would be counterproductive. It could also be an important factor in any dealings with the Scottish Premier League if the club’s parent company underwent an insolvency event. Ukio have already done so, but Ubig have not, hence the importance of determining who now has control over Romanov’s 79 per cent.