A RALLYING cry has been sent out to Hearts fans as the consortium seeking to wrest control of the club claim “the most crucial days in Hearts’ history” are upon them.
The Foundation of Hearts (FoH), which is strongly tipped to take the Tynecastle reins, is summoning the Kitchener spirit to urge supporters worldwide to get behind its scheme to bring full fan ownership to the club.
It has urged the rival factions fighting over the future direction of the club to put aside their differences and support the move.
Those behind the consortium, backed by two of the club’s largest fan groups, believe a conclusion could be reached within days following the collapse of owner Vladimir Romanov’s Lithuanian bank.
Ukio Bankas was last week declared insolvent following the appointment of an administrator.
FoH chairman Alex Mackie said: “Without doubt, the recent developments around the Lithuanian companies involved with Hearts, including the demise of Ukio Bankas, have moved things on to a different footing which brings new ownership of our club very much nearer.
“We are therefore asking fans to go on to our website as soon as possible and make a pledge of support.”
Those fans who make a pledge will then be registered with the consortium of leading businessmen and women who upon taking control of the club will oversee a transition period before relinquishing control to the body of supporters.
Steve Kilgour, secretary of the Hearts Supporters Club, said: “Even a blind man can see this current period is critical in the club’s history.
“Upon meeting with the Foundation of Hearts it is clear that these are fans, first and foremost, who have the interests of the club foremost in their minds. If successful and following the period of transition, each and every supporter who makes the pledge will receive their vote in how the club is run, and who runs it.”
Hearts have recently stated their desire to work with rival faction Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS), a government-funded body lobbying to transfer control of football clubs to their fanbase.
Mr Mackie said: “This is not the time for recriminations, or to create division among the Hearts community, but rather a unique opportunity for Hearts fans to create history by throwing their weight behind a scheme which brings meaningful responsibility to the supporters and real Hearts people leading the way.”
Paul Goodwin, head of SDS, held a meeting with club bosses yesterday.
He said: “We’ve had a really productive meeting with Hearts and we have further talks planned for this coming week.”
Uncertainty surrounds the amount of debt owed to Ukio Bankas and the situation in Lithuania.
Added to this is the fact that while Hearts may own Tynecastle Stadium, the ground is being held as security against loans to Romanov’s investment company UBIG.
If Siauliu Bankas – which is taking over the “good” parts of Ukio Bankas – seeks to reclaim that debt, and if Hearts are unable to pay, then the bank might attempt to force its sale.
Hearts have also announced that fans who invested during the recent share issue will begin receiving their certificates by mid-March. In the event of any imminent sale of the club, these shares will remain “in situ”.