HEARTS administrators BDO were last night still preparing to submit an application to the Scottish Professional Football League for early payment of the money they are due to receive at the end of the season.
With money due to run out around the end of this month and no date yet confirmed for final approval of the Company Voluntary Arrangement which is designed to take Hearts out of administration, BDO are committed to doing everything they can to ensure the Tynecastle club can fulfil their post-split fixtures.
Officially relegated last weekend, Hearts can expect a total of £790,000 in Premiership prize money for finishing 12th in the top division. But the bulk of that money – approximately £690,000 – has already been paid out. In other words, even should their approach be successful, Hearts will only receive about an extra £100,000.
Last night the SPFL had yet to receive an official approach from Hearts or BDO. Until the league body knows the precise nature of the request they will not say how favourably they might treat it – but there is a useful precedent from Hearts’ point of view in the case of Gretna.
Towards the end of the 2007-08 season the Dumfries & Galloway club were close to going under after owner Brooks Mileson withdrew his funding. In order to allow Gretna to fulfil their fixtures during what turned out to be their only season in the top flight of Scottish football, the SPL gave the club an advance.
Although £100,000 is not a massive sum for a full-time football club, it could make a significant difference to Hearts as they prepare for their post-split matches, which begin on Saturday week with the visit of Ross County to Edinburgh.
Assistant manager Billy Brown has already had to agree to work on without wages as a result of the current cash crisis after his short-term contract ran out at the end of last month, and other economies may have to be made over the coming weeks unless there is a small cash injection.
After the Ross County match, Hearts visit Easter Road for the fifth Edinburgh derby of the season. They then have two home games, against Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle, before ending their campaign with a visit to St Mirren. With relegation confirmed, it may be difficult for them to attract additional customers to Tynecastle for their remaining home fixtures, but any increase in numbers will offer another modest but potentially significant boost to their finances.
Bryan Jackson of BDO remained in Lithuania yesterday and is expected to be there for the rest of the week at least. He is scheduled to have further talks with the administrators of Ukio Bankas, whose creditors have yet to approve the transfer of the shares and security they hold. Those talks were called off for the day on Monday afternoon, with neither party giving any indication of when they were expected to resume.
If and when negotiations get under way again and then reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion, Ukio will then be expected to call a meeting of their creditors. Should those creditors approve the terms offered for the sale of their shares and security over Tynecastle, BDO will then be able to proceed with the conclusion of the CVA that they agreed with the Foundation of Hearts towards the end of next year.
The creditors of Ubig, another company in which Kaunas-based businessman Vladimir Romanov once held a controlling interest, voted on Monday morning to approve the sale of their 50 per cent shareholding in Hearts. Ukio own nearly 30 per cent, and if their creditors also agree to sell, the Foundation will have a big enough stake in the club to assume ownership.