Fans can expect “a very different team” next season with the emphasis on youth, according to director Sergejus Fedotovas.
Fedotovas also confirmed Vladimir Romanov’s intention to sell the club, saying the owner was “justifiably disillusioned” with football and was open to discussions with interested parties. The intention is now to reduce the wage bill significantly to make the club leaner and more financially viable for interested parties.
Hearts’ debt is estimated at between £30m and £35m and it is believed there are already two different parties keen to talk to Romanov about taking over the club.
In the meantime, Fedotovas says the existing board’s strategy will be to sell senior players. “We have several players that have reached the peak of their career at Hearts and are ready for a move,” Fedotovas told the Hearts website. “Whether this will be January or the summer – we will need to see what options will be available to us. Our priority remains on escalating the rise of the young players in our squad.
“We have some very talented young players and we are now entering a transformational time for the club on [the] field. Our strategy involves bringing through the best young players while selling or releasing some of the senior and fringe players. The board’s view is that Hearts should be a very different team next season and thereafter.”
However, former Hearts chairman Leslie Deans has cautioned against cutting too deeply.
Deans told Scotland on Sunday: “I don’t think we can keep cutting staffing behind the scenes and there is a limit to the cuts we can make in wages if we want to remain competitive, so for me we have to look at ways of increasing income.”
Deans’ dream is to have Hearts and other leading Scottish clubs playing in a multi-national or so-called Atlantic League, with teams from countries such as Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. UEFA and national associations have previously resisted such as prospect.
Hearts admitted last week that they did not have funds to pay their players on time and the bulk of the first-team squad is still waiting on wages which were due on 16 November. Fedotovas said: “We are doing everything to source funding for their salaries. We have paid 33 of our players already and [are] looking forward to catching up at some point soon.”
Hearts’ wage bill has long exceeded turnover but financial reality would now seem to have finally caught up with the Gorgie club.
On Romanov’s intention to sell, Fedotovas said: “Mr Romanov has made his position clear and I can reinforce that, while he is justifiably disillusioned by many aspects of the sport, he has not lost his feeling towards Hearts.
“I do not have a timescale in mind, we need to work to achieve the best result for the club. The board is remaining focused on transforming the business into a much more youthful, enterprising, entertaining and financially viable club. If it is clear that any individual or organisation has a valid proposal which can seriously develop the club and allow it to prosper in years to come then we will talk to them.”
Fedotovas also cast doubt on Hearts’ future at Tynecastle, saying: “Our position is not good with the current stadium. The longer term strategy of securing a better and increased capacity facility for Hearts still applies. We have to be very clear that doing nothing is not an option.”
The club is seeking a partnership with City of Edinburgh Council for a new community stadium.