Hearts midfielder Miguel Pallardo has been summoned to appear in court to address match-fixing allegations – just 24 hours before the Edinburgh club host Livingston at Tynecastle.
Pallardo, 28, will face questioning in Valencia tomorrow with the session scheduled to take place at 10am GMT.
He would then face a race against time to get back to Scotland in time to be in contention to face Livingston on Saturday, potentially presenting Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson with a selection headache.
Files submitted by Spain’s Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor allege Pallardo was one of 41 individuals who received payments totalling €965,000 (£767,551) to fix a La Liga encounter between his former club Levante and Real Zaragoza in May 2011. Pallardo played the full match as Zaragoza claimed the 2-1 victory they required to avoid relegation, with current Atletico Madrid captain Gabi scoring both goals.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
All 41 defendants, including 35 current players such as Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and former Celtic star Jiri Jarosik, will face prosecutors over the next three months, according to a court schedule circulated by Spanish publication AS. If found guilty, those alleged to be involved could face maximum sanctions of four years in jail, a six-year ban from football, or a fine of almost €3 million (£2,386,170).
One casualty of the saga this week was Javier Aguirre, who was dismissed from his role as manager of Japan, due to “a possibility that he [Aguirre] will be indicted.” The Mexican coach was in charge of Zaragoza for the fixture in question.
Neilson has previously absolved Pallardo of any wrongdoing, stating “I don’t think there is anything there to worry about”, while Pallardo’s representative Clive Jagger insisted “there is no case to answer”.
Pallardo, who boasts 179 appearances in Spain’s top two divisions, joined Hearts on a one-year contract last summer and has recently established himself in the Tynecastle first team.
He has made 12 appearances for the runaway Championship leaders.
Meanwhile, St Johnstone have signed Hearts defender Brad McKay on a pre-contract agreement. Both clubs announced that the 21-year-old would move to Perth in the summer when his contract expires.
McKay was a regular for Hearts in the Scottish Premiership last season but his appearances have been limited to nine this term as he found his path to the team blocked by Danny Wilson and Alim Ozturk.