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Financial crisis at Hearts deepens with SPL not willing to step in

Updated: Friday, 14 Jun 2013 11:18 | Comments

Hearts fans face worrying times amid fears they will struggle to survive the off-season
Hearts fans face worrying times amid fears they will struggle to survive the off-season

Hearts have been told the Scottish Premier League will not step in to bail them out of their latest financial crisis.

The Tynecastle outfit say they have entered a "critical" period as they battle to save the club, £25million in debt, from going bust.

Season-ticket sales are 20 per cent down on Hearts' most conservative estimates and the majority of money that has come in from renewals has already been spent.

There are now fears the club may not be able to pay wages that are due tomorrow and the entire first-team squad have been put up for sale.

The SPL has hired lawyers in Lithuania to monitor the ongoing insolvency situations with UBIG, the investment firm formerly controlled by Jambos owner Vladimir Romanov that still holds 50 per cent of the club's shares, and Ukio Bankas.

UBIG is due £10million from Hearts, while Ukio Bankas - another one-time Romanov interest - is owed £15million from the Gorgie side but is now set to be liquidated.

But SPL chief Neil Doncaster says the league will not be able to hand Hearts a crisis loan.

He said: "It's always disappointing when any SPL club faces financial stresses. We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely and we will see what arises.

"The SPL has very clear rules about what fees are provided to clubs and when. Those rules are absolutely being complied with.

"There is no slush fund that exists to loan extra money to any one club. The fees are divided up between all of the 12 clubs according to the rules.

"It is very difficult to favour any one club over any other and the rules are therefore very clear about what we can and can't do."

Hearts owned up to the extent of their financial problems just 24 hours after the administrator of Ukio Bankas said he has "no reason or desire to harm Hearts" after a court in Lithuania upheld a decision to liquidate the bank.

The Edinburgh club, however, are still battling the threat of a winding-up order lodged by Revenue and Customs over a £100,000 tax bill, although a majority of that sum has been paid.

News of Hearts' alarming predicament came via a statement on their official website outlining concerns about a "shortfall in funding".

Doubts were raised over "future payments to players and staff" and Gorgie bosses have pleaded with fans to buy season tickets.

Managing Director David Southern said: "We're not in a good place at the moment and we're just going to have to try to get through the situation and reach the start of the season, when the income streams will hopefully start flowing again."

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