HEARTS are set to open their books to the Scots consortium vying to end Vladimir Romanov’s reign at Tynecastle.
Foundation of Hearts (FOH) have signed an order banning them from disclosing details of the club’s finances after being given access to the balance sheet for first time.
The move is being seen a “big step forward” by members of the consortium who want to usher in an era of fan ownership by launching a “Barcelona-style” membership scheme in which supporters contribute a monthly fee.
The Gorgie club is understood to be shouldering debts of around £24 million and has rejected two bids of £450,000 and £4.5m in the last fortnight.
A source close to FOH said: “We have now signed a non-disclosure agreement with the club to get more detailed financial information about where it is at.
“We believe this is a big step forward, but because of the people we have on board, we already have a pretty good idea of the situation at Hearts. We have done our own projections and we have a pretty good steer on where the club is at, but it’s important to get more detail which will enable us to move things forward.”
Former Hearts chairman Lord George Foulkes said the signing of a confidentiality agreement was a further demonstration that “both sides are serious” about negotiating a sale of the club.
He added: “I think any move which could ultimately result in a change of ownership is good news.”
Meanwhile, it is understood that FOH – fronted by Alex Mackie – has already spent around £15,000 since its take- over bid was launched two years ago. Expenses have included commissioning an independent valuation of Tynecastle Stadium, survey reports, legal fees and return flights from Lithuania.
An insider said: “We have top people acting as consultants in their own time. If we were to pay them for their services the bill could total £150,000.
“We hope this highlights the point that the people involved here are doing it for the love of the club – it’s not about money. There’s a genuine commitment among the group, not just members but advisors as well all trying to the plan into reality.
Ahead of the crunch Scottish Cup derby on Sunday, Hibs supporters are thought to be preparing an arsenal of mocking banners and flags to revel in their rivals’ misfortune.
As well as a songsheet brimming with chants about Hearts’ woes, the Hibs support is set to print reams of fake paper money bearing the image of Vladimir Romanov, which they plan to wave at the opposition support. Hector the Taxman masks are also expected at Easter Road.
Earlier this month, Hearts warned that they might not survive after receiving a winding-up order over a tax bill of almost £450,000. An extension with HMRC was agreed that will allow the club further time to pay an outstanding tax bill. The arrangement allows Hearts to pay the £450,000 bill in two instalments and lifts the immediate threat of closure.
Daily runs are labour of love
A HEARTS-MAD dad will leave his heavily pregnant wife to go on a three-mile run every day in December to raise money for the cash-stricken club.
Mark Kane, 35, has vowed not to miss a run, including Christmas Day, or if his wife, Jill, goes into labour with their second child.
The fan from Baberton, who has supported the club since he was five, said he would run to hospital if necessary.
“The baby’s not due until January 10, but my first was early,” he said. “It’ll be fine so long as I’m at the end of a phone.”
The alarm fitter, whose first match was the Scottish Cup final in 1986, said it was time for fans to dig deep.
He said: “If it snows then I will be in a bit of bother but the motivation is there to try and raise as much money as I can.”