PHIL ANDERTON will be installed as Hearts’ new chief executive next week, the Evening News can reveal.
Negotiations aimed at landing the marketing maestro are close to a successful conclusion and the former Scottish Rugby Union figurehead could be in his new post by the time the Jambos play host to Rangers in the SPL on Wednesday.
Sergejus Fedotovas has been acting as the club’s interim chief executive since Vladimir Romanov bought out Chris Robinson to become the single largest shareholder in Hearts earlier this month and the Lithuanian millionaire immediately set his sights on recruiting a permanent successor to Robinson - someone with a knowledge of Scottish sport and the Edinburgh business community.
Fedotovas today refused to be drawn on the identity of the man he believes is the person to take the club forward under the new regime. However, he hinted that the deal is close to completion with personal terms being discussed with the individual involved.
Barring any unforeseen hitches in those talks, Anderton, who was labelled "Firework Phil" after he organised a pyrotechnic display at last season’s Calcutta Cup rugby match in the Capital, will take up his post within the week.
"We are in discussions over commercial terms for his involvement and I expect those to come to a conclusion within a matter of days," said Fedotovas.
Anderton is a self-confessed Hearts supporter and first impressed Romanov during the negotiations which saw the Jambos play this season’s UEFA Cup matches at Murrayfield.
He became chief executive of the SRU almost exactly a year ago after a successful spell as commercial and marketing director but resigned last month during a power struggle.
Speaking recently about the lure of the Tynecastle post, he said: "Romanov has come in and put in his money which has enabled the club to stay at Tynecastle.
"Whoever gets the job at Tynecastle will have to come up with a plan to raise income.
"I was a Hearts fan, but I’m not going to make up any lies about being a season ticket holder. In fact, I haven’t been to many football games and I think that is part of the problem.
"The amount of people you meet who say they are either Hearts or Hibs fans but don’t go to games is surprising. That is the challenge for anyone who gets involved in these types of clubs - to translate that into getting the people to go along to the matches."
A regular board meeting is scheduled for Thursday but Anderton’s appointment, which has to be announced to the London Stock Exchange first, could be prior to that.
The news of his imminent arrival in Gorgie comes just 48 hours before Hearts take on Livingston in the quarter-final of the Tennent’s Scottish Cup.
The Jambos are favourites but boss John Robertson has warned his men not to underestimate the struggling Lions.
"We have already had two close games against them this season and Sunday will be no different," he said.
"There is the incentive to get through to our second semi-final of the season and the boys will be up for it."
Robertson has no fresh injury worries, though Steven Pressley misses out through suspension.