Norwegian group in Kaunas for Hearts bid talks

Vladimar Romanov.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Vladimar Romanov. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CONSORTIUM of Scandinavian businessmen vying to take control of Hearts have dispatched a legal team to Lithuania to thrash out a deal for the club.

The unnamed syndicate comprised of six Norwegian businessmen “with an educational background from Edinburgh”, first surfaced several months ago.

However, their interest was thought to have flagged until the sudden release of a statement through sports management firm, Crest SportsGroup. Talks between the group and rival consortium Foundation of Hearts had taken place back in February but a second round of discussions in regards a joint bid never materialised.

The group have now made clear their intentions with “a comprehensive business case and action plan” in place and “a team working full time 
in Kaunas” to monitor the 
situation.

Their statement reads: “We have made contact with the appropriate authorities in Lithuania and elsewhere to gain access to the necessary information, as well as make it known that this group of businessmen may be interested in fielding a bid for the club.

“We currently have a team working full-time in Kaunas to monitor the situation and keep contact with the appropriate parties in relation to the situation at Heart of Midlothian FC. This team includes the necessary local legal capacity to field a bid for the club and negotiate the terms of a takeover, should a decision to move ahead be taken.”

However the group have also made it clear that they are unwilling to take on any of the club’s current £25 million debt.

The identities of the foreign delegation remain under wraps but the group reportedly come from business backgrounds in banking, oil engineering, shipping and venture capitalism.

A spokesman for Crest SportsGroup said: “Until instructed to do so, we are prevented by client confidentiality to reveal the identities of the group of businessmen, and their decision to step forward will be taken entirely by themselves when appropriate.

“We can confirm, though, that most of them have educational background from Edinburgh, and they all consider themselves supporters of Heart of Midlothian FC.”

Edinburgh MP Ian Murray, who represents the six key Hearts fans’ groups – Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, Foundation of Hearts, Heart of Midlothian Shareholders’ Association, Heart of Midlothian Supporters’ Trust, Hearts Youth Development Committee and Save our Hearts – said of the emergence of another bid: “There has been no contact between this group and the Foundation of Hearts for some time.

“It is clear that they are also uncertain about matters in Lithuania and are awaiting clarity like ourselves. All we can do is continue working on establishing our own bid.

“We do not view this group as rivals, as all we have is the best interests of the club at heart as I would hope they do also.

“If they wish to come and speak to us about their bid then we would be more than happy to talk.”

In September 2011, a sponsorship deal between Crest SportsGroup, described as a multi-international sports consultancy, and city ice hockey side Edinburgh Capitals collapsed due to “difficult economic conditions.”