Hearts bidders Club 9 ‘left hockey team with debt’

Claims have been made about Hearts suitors. Club 9 Picture: SNS

Claims have been made about Hearts suitors. Club 9 Picture: SNS

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A SPORTS agency involved in a takeover bid for Hearts withheld wages and lumbered an American ice-hockey team with £260,000 of debt, US sources claim.

Club 9, part of a consortium bidding for the troubled ­Capital club, took over the Illinois-based Quad City Mallards in 2011.

But despite improved attendances and increased sales, the minor league club nearly folded with allegations of spiralling debts and unpaid wages of up to £20,000.

The Central Hockey League stepped in to save the club last year but not before first-team coach David Bell walked away stating he had to “find a way to financially support my family”.

The source said: “Club 9 sucked whatever revenue they could from this team, and left a stack of bills trailing behind them.

“They tried – and ultimately failed – to get additional investors to raise extra operating revenue. They then secured a sale agreement with another empty-pocketed owner, who smartly backed out a week before the season started. The season should have been shut down, but the league stepped in to run the club.

“To say Club 9 is interested in Hearts is a bad sign.”

The consortium – going under Bob Jamieson’s HMFC Limited – and two other bidders have been told they must prove their financial clout within the next week or risk being discounted from the race to gain control at Tynecastle.

Administrators BDO emailed HMFC, the Foundation of Hearts and Angelo Massone’s Five Stars Football Limited asking for proof of funding before they can name a preferred bidder for the Edinburgh club.

Rumours Peebles-based Jamieson, pictured below, is in dispute with his American backers over funding for his £5 million offer have been denied but details of previous failed exploits are sure to worry fans.

Their bid, which involves an un-named Scottish businessman, comprises of £1.8m for control of the club plus £3.2m in working capital for three years.

Fans’ group the Foundation is expected to submit financial documents to BDO by the middle of next week detailing its £5.75m offer.

It will demonstrate that an initial £2m cash is available from investors for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which is necessary for Hearts to exit administration.

Converted monthly pledges from supporters will provide the remaining £3.75m in working capital to run the club for the next three years.

Italian Massone, who previously led Livingston into financial trouble, will bid around £4m, but his submission does not include a plan for working capital.

Any party unable to provide proof it has funding in place will no longer be considered a serious bidder by BDO, with a preferred bidder expected to be named within the next three to four weeks.

Attempts were made to contact Club 9, but no-one was available to comment.