Hearts administration: Bob Jamieson denies dispute

BOB Jamieson has insisted his HMFC Limited company is still the highest bidder for the Tynecastle club and denied claims he is now in dispute with the American investment firm backing him.

Tynecastle stadium. Picture: SNS

Peebles-based businessman Jamieson has also condemned what he says is “malicious gossip” surrounding his attempt to purchase Hearts from administrators BDO.

HMFC Limited, incorporated by former club shirt sponsor Jamieson earlier this year, was one of three bidders to meet BDO’s deadline last week, along with united supporters group Foundation of Hearts and the Five Stars Football Ltd company fronted by former Livingston owner Angelo Massone.

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According to a BBC report yesterday, the HMFC Limited bid has been placed in doubt because Club 9 Sports, the North Carolina-based sports investment firm, are withholding £5 million which was to be used to buy the club.

Jamieson has firmly rejected that version of events. “It’s more malicious gossip designed to undermine the bid made by HMFC Limited,” Jamieson told The Scotsman in response to the report of a dispute between himself and Club 9 Sports.

“The fact remains that HMFC Limited is the highest bidder with a potential £45 million US investment to build a new 25,000 capacity stadium.

“Club 9 Sports Agency already have private investor clients in USA who are ready to commit to providing investment for a new stadium once the CVA and acquisition has been completed.”

Jamieson has previously revealed to The Scotsman that, if successful, other parties including Foundation of Hearts along with a Scandinavian consortium and the London-based consortium headed by former SRU chief executive Gordon McKie, both of which withdrew before the bidding deadline, would be invited to join HMFC Limited as equal shareholders.

The bid fronted by Massone has been called into question, due to the Italian’s involvement at Livingston when they were placed into administration four years ago. The Scottish FA’s articles regarding club ownership and involvement on a club’s official return of directors seem certain to rule Massone is not “fit and proper” to take control at Tynecastle.

BDO, who hope to name a preferred bidder in the next three to four weeks, said that none of the bids immediately meets their requirements to purchase Hearts and effect a CVA. Co-administrator Bryan Jackson made it clear further discussions with all parties would be required.

While BDO have sufficient funds to run Hearts as a going concern for the next three or four months, clarity over the club’s future also remains dependent on the pending insolvency proceedings at UBIG, the Lithuanian company through which Vladimir Romanov owned Hearts, and Ukio Bankas who hold the security over Tynecastle Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Foundation of Hearts has said that it offers the most realistic prospect of providing the club with a healthy future, claiming almost 6000 signed-up direct debits from supporters providing well over £1m per year in additional revenue to repay the purchase price and invest in the club.

A statement to FoH members by its independent chairman Ian Murray last night read: “The Foundation of Hearts is confident that the bid submitted on its behalf is the best financial bid for Hearts and its creditors; has cash ready to complete the transaction immediately; provides the strongest possible working capital solution; delivers lowest risk for creditors and the future protection and growth of the club; provides the best business people, and their capital, with genuine supporter interest and influence; and delivers a highly professionally run club with a clear way to engage Foundation members to the benfit and growth of the club.

“We are now on the way to 6,000 direct debits. This is no longer a bid, it’s a movement – the biggest supporter-led movement in the history of Scottish football.”