Hearts preferred bidder named ‘by end of the week’

Bryan Jackson is hopeful a deal to keep Hearts alive can be reached. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Bryan Jackson is hopeful a deal to keep Hearts alive can be reached. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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A PREFERRED bidder for debt-stricken Hearts is on the verge of being announced, it has been revealed.

Administrator Bryan Jackson said BDO was close to announcing which organisation will be given the status – allowing the body to go it alone in a quest to buy Hearts.

And the financial chief offered the strongest indication yet that fans-driven Foundation of Hearts (FoH) would win the race for priority, saying the consortium appeared the “most likely” bidder for the club.

He made the revelation after a group of creditors, including solicitors representing Lithuanian firms Ukio Bankas and UBIG, unanimously agreed they all wanted to enter a creditors voluntary arrangement needed to sell Hearts and avoid liquidation.

Ukio – the club’s biggest creditor – is owed £15 million of Hearts’ total £28.5m debt and have Tynecastle Stadium as security.

Mr Jackson said the small landmark achieved at yesterday’s meeting – along with Hearts’ rousing 1-0 derby victory over Hibs – were morale-lifters for Jambos fans.

He described the win as “a real bonus” in their fight for survival. “There nearly wasn’t a club here a number of weeks ago, so the doors are open,” he said. “That’s a big, big plus right now, but getting the win just psychologically is so helpful just to give everyone a real lift, particularly people who are donating money and people who are working towards buying the club.

“It showed not just that the gates are open, but that you have a team that are functioning as well.”

The derby result eats away at a portion of the 15-point penalty handed out to Hearts by the Scottish Football Association as punishment for going into administration.

Confidentiality clauses prevent BDO from discussing the status of the £4m bid 
submitted by Italian Angelo Massone. However, the Massone bid appears to be floundering, with FoH having rejected an offer to unite for a joint takeover of Tynecastle.

Massone’s Five Stars Football Ltd is one of the two remaining bidders for the Tynecastle club. A deadline to provide administrators with proof of cash expired last 
Friday.

Mr Jackson said: “The reports are fairly accurate in that the Foundation appear to be the most likely bidder, but they are not at preferred bidder status. It’s so fluid these situations, but my best estimate today is the end of this week that we’ll be able to announce a preferred bidder. That’s where we are.”

Mr Jackson added: “We want to be able to go to preferred bidder status and we’re trying to work towards that because once you go to that status it’s easier to deal with the one party and also then there’s more transparency, it’s more open and it gives you a chance to move forward. We’re talking to them (Ukio Bankas) all the time. We know they brought out the big stick a number of weeks ago and gave us all a big fright, with ‘we need more money’. That’s their job.

“As I said at the time, let’s not panic about it. We are a bit away with both parties in terms of satisfying them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach it.”

The foundation submitted proof of their own funding to BDO a fortnight ago and have £3.75m to run Hearts for the next three years.

Foundation spokesman Lawrence Broadie said: “We remain hopeful that the bid submitted on behalf of Foundation of Hearts will be named as BDO’s preferred option. We are convinced that we present the best bid with the lowest risk for creditors.”