Jackson stated that belief in a single sentence at the end of a press release on Monday in reaction to a warning from Ukio administrators Valnetas that they would consider liquidating Hearts if the two bidders – the Foundation of Hearts and Five Stars Football Ltd – do not increase their offers. Yesterday, after announcing that a Company Voluntary Arrangement had been reached at Dunfermline Athletic, he set out the reasons why a similar deal at Hearts would be better for the creditors.
“I believe you’ll get a quicker sale as a football club,” he said. “It will be cleaner. Because if you don’t sell it as a football club, you have all the problems of mothballing the stadium, the hostility that would go with that, the loss of the local community club, the loss to Edinburgh. I know from the point of view of the creditor that might not be important, but it will be a knock-on effect. Because the knock-on effect will be ‘Who is going to buy this property? Who is going to buy this land?’ That’s something we’ve conveyed overseas: that it’s not as simple as that. You could be left with a property that might take years to sell. You may or may not get more eventually by going down that route.
“Obviously we have the other administration objective of keeping it as a football club – that’s a huge objective. But we do think they both go together, and that’s our argument.”
Although the threat from Lithuania produced shockwaves in Scotland on Monday, Jackson suggested that nothing had changed from the day his firm took over the running of Hearts last month. “There has been a slight over-reaction to us getting the big stick out from overseas saying ‘Look, you need to do better’. We already knew that. That was actually the case on day one. It’s just they weren’t quite so vociferous on day one about it. Perhaps it read a bit more brutally than I would have liked, and that’s caused the reaction. But I still believe that if we can get the offer up – albeit it still has to be quite an amount – that they will be open to still doing the deal.”
Jackson declined to comment on a report that Five Stars, fronted by Angelo Massone, had failed to deliver proof of funds. Meanwhile, the Foundation has postponed the date on which it will start to take direct debits from its thousands of backers. “We are confident of reaching a deal, but we don’t want to take the first payment until we are satisfied that we can secure an agreement,” chairman Ian Murray said. The first payment date is now 2 September instead of 2 August.