Hearts administrator says club is Romanov victim

Vladimir Romanov. Picture: SNS
Vladimir Romanov. Picture: SNS
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HEARTS’ joint administrator Trevor Birch today urged the Scottish Football Association to treat the Tynecastle club as the victim – and not punish them for the actions of former majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov.

The Gorgie outfit will be hauled in front of the SFA later this month after being issued with a notice of complaint for breaching Rule 14, which covers insolvency events.

The possible punishments include full membership or associate 
membership of the SFA being 
suspended or terminated, or the club being issued with a fine – which the administrators have previously said would be “disastrous” for Hearts.

Rangers were fined last year under similar circumstances, but Birch is hoping Hearts can avoid a financial punishment, which would again see them struggling for cash. Instead, he is keen to see the SFA focus its attention on trying to track down Romanov and bring him to book for the part he played in the club’s downfall.

Birch said: “If you go to the extreme and say ‘let’s get rid of Hearts’ and completely obliterate them, what does that do for Scottish football?

“You would hope that they would look at each administration on the basic facts and circumstances. Here we are left with a club that is, technically, the victim of the perpetrators who have done the damage and then disappeared.

“You know, go and find them and ban them from football for the rest of their lives.

“To punish the club that is left, who have effectively just sat there and done nothing, that doesn’t deter anybody.

“The penalties and the fines, the people who have done it are no longer involved anyway.

“The club is down, it needs help, it needs support, to

recover from the position it is in. What it doesn’t need is

another whack on the head.”

Meanwhile, Birch admitted that the delay over appointing administrators for UBIG is the biggest stumbling block for any successful takeover bid.

A closing date of July 12 has been set for interested parties but the hold-up in Lithuania has prevented BDO from

acquiring UBIG’s shareholding in the club.

Birch conceded that could force them to look at the newco route – similar to Rangers – but that is something he is hoping to avoid.

“If we cannot get the shares then we have to start thinking: ‘is there another way of doing it?’” he said.

“That might mean, of course, the Rangers way. They set up a newco because they could not do a CVA because of HMRC.

“But that took them out of the league, so there is a precedent there. You try and avoid that at all costs. Whether the SPFL and the SFA would treat us the same way, I don’t know.”