THE SCOTS consortium vying to end Vladimir Romanov’s reign at Hearts has said it is in for the long haul as it plots a second bid.
Foundation of Hearts (FOH) said it would not be deterred from completing a fan-led takeover, despite seeing an initial bid rebuffed last week by club chiefs who branded the £450,000 offer “opportunistic”.
It is understood the consortium has also conducted an independent valuation of Hearts’ assets.
Hearts yesterday rejected a £4.5 million buy-out offer from Italian businessman Angelo Massone, describing the former Livingston owner as “not the right person to take the club forward”.
Mr Massone’s 12-month tenure at Almondvale from June 2008 saw the club plunge into administration and expelled from the First Division to the bottom tier.
He wants to hold talks with the rival Scots syndicate before considering whether to progress his interest in Hearts, but FOH chairman Alex Mackie has already publicly refused to work with the Italian.
An FOH insider said it had been holding talks with Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas but could not put a time frame on when a second bid was likely to be lodged. He said: “When we were negotiating with Hearts we committed to do valuations of the stadium and other assets. That’s now been completed on our side. In return, we asked for liability and costs to be determined and we have asked for those again.
“We are in for the long haul and are committed to moving things forward.”
The source stressed that “due diligence” was a key factor, with the consortium needing detailed information relating to accounts and liability before attempting to bridge any valuation gap.
“We are trying to get this bid put together but can’t do that until we have as much information as possible from Hearts,” he said.
“It could go on for a long time. That first bid was trying to rescue an immediate situation. If that had helped to save the club that was one solution. We are delighted the deadline for payment to HMRC has been put back and didn’t expect the first offer to be accepted.”
Meanwhile, Hearts legend and consortium member Donald Ford, left, said he couldn’t “second guess” the current hierarchy’s valuation of the club.
“We cannot say what the shout is because we have no idea what the current owner’s situation is,” he said. “The emphasis from the foundation is to try to persuade the supporters that we have a viable proposal.”
Mr Massone would not say if he planned a second bid, but said: “My main message is a positive one – the supporters can stay on the board with investors. It’s important to speak with the supporters at this moment.”
A statement on the Hearts website read: “We are aware of Mr Massone’s previous involvement in the game in Scotland and the board has decided not to pursue his offer any further. Vladimir Romanov remains willing to discuss the sale of Hearts to anyone with a genuine interest, and ability, to take the club forward.”