Hearts fans’ group wait as Romanov sale ‘forbidden’

THE Foundation of Hearts has revealed they are now forced “to wait and see” as the sale of the Tynecastle club is thrown into doubt following the freezing of Vladimir Romanov’s assets by a Lithuanian bank.

UBIG holdings, through which Romanov controls 79 per cent of the Tynecastle club, were blocked by a court in Kaunas yesterday.

The action is a result of a lawsuit against Romanov and his sister Olga Goncaruk. It is understood several companies are suing the club’s owner and Goncaruk to recover “large debts” the two jointly undertook.

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In a statement, court spokeswoman Gintare Putnikiene said: “Any sale or transfer of UBIG’s shares in Hearts or its other property is forbidden.”

The move comes just two months after Lithuania’s central bank suspended operations at Ukio Bankas, a bank majority-owned by Romanov, citing irregularities.

The Foundation of Hearts – a fan-led consortium vying to take over the club – had revealed on April 9 that it was negotiating together with other fans groups to buy a majority of Hearts shares from UBIG.

These plans have now been stalled as they await further news from Lithuania. Romanov can appeal the arrest order within seven days.

A spokesman said: “We always knew that there would be some legal proceedings due to an administrator being imposed. We now just have to wait and see.

“Mr Romanov has seven days to appeal the decision, so after that we will see is still in a position to negotiate. If not, then we will deal with the administrators. We always knew this could be a possibility.”

Romanov told a Lithuanian television channel that he would not be commenting on the court’s decision until he had more information.