Foundation of Hearts admits Ukio blow is ‘major event’

Picture: Ian Georgeson
Picture: Ian Georgeson
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FOUNDATION of Hearts chairman Alex Mackie says that the descent into administration of Vladimir Romanov’s Ukio Bankas could be a “major event” in the club’s battle for survival.

The supporters’ buyout bid leader was last night weighing up the implications for Hearts, having only returned from holiday at the beginning of the week and been woken by a phone call yesterday to be told of events unfolding at the bank owned by Hearts’ majority shareholder.

The Tynecastle club sought to play down yesterday’s events, stressing that Hearts are owned by investment group UBIG, which “is an entirely separate entity and stands alone from Ukio Bankas”.

However, with Ukio Bankas providing the club with “some banking services and debt facility” and with Romanov in control of UBIG and Hearts as well as the bank, it remains to be seen exactly how the situation will affect the Gorgie outfit, which has suffered financial woes and used a share issue to raise capital from fans.

Mackie’s consortium was due to meet next Monday to discuss their next step as they weigh up a fresh offer for the club following Romanov’s rejection of their previous “note of interest” back in November.

But, with supporters’ concerns heightened by the latest twist in Hearts’ long-running saga, Mackie and his colleagues were last night digesting the fresh news.

He said: “I’m just back from a holiday in Dubai and was still just coming out of my sleep when somebody phoned me to tell me what had happened. I had managed to switch off from work and from Hearts for the first time in the last two or three years when I was away and then I was hit with this on my return.

“I want to assess exactly what is going on and what it means for Hearts and for the Foundation before I say too much more but what I would say is that it certainly is a major event.”