HEARTS have been subject to several winding-up orders since Vladimir Romanov took a majority stake in the club. So how concerned should we be about this latest HMRC deadline? Very concerned is the answer.
The statement from Tynecastle says: “This isn’t a bluff, this isn’t scaremongering, this is reality.
“Without the support of fans there is a real risk that Hearts could possibly play its last game on 17 November.”
No-one wants Hearts to fail. Even most Hibs supporters admit life would be a lot duller without a city rival to berate.
The situation is so serious that the Scottish Government, led by Jambo fan Alex Salmond, has said that it stands ready to help the club in whatever way it can.
“It is in everyone’s interests to find a solution which ensures that Hearts can continue in business while also meeting their obligations to the tax authorities,” a government spokesman said.
Edinburgh City Council has also reacted, pointing out how many jobs Hearts supports across the city.
In the short-term it is difficult to know what Hearts fans should do. They already make a huge commitment to the club, emotionally and financially. They buy the shirts, the season tickets, the pies. Is it reasonable to expect ordinary men and women to find yet more cash to prop up their club?
Some will respond, but others have already contacted the News to express their concern about such an appeal.
What guarantees do supporters have about where any new money is going? How do they know the same situation will not reoccur in six months’ time?
But the alternative could be that they stand by and watch their club die.
And don’t believe that it can’t happen. Rangers have proved that, and attitudes are hardening at HMRC after previous problems with Hearts.
There are some small grounds for optimism.
Substantial sums are due to come into the club in coming months from transfer fees (David Templeton), the league cup semi-final at Hampden and an Edinburgh Scottish Cup derby.
This is possibly enough to get the club through the immediate crisis if they can somehow buy a stay of execution from the taxman.
None of us have ever known Edinburgh without Hearts. All, including many Hibs’ fans, would privately admit that Scottish football and the Capital would be poorer without them. We must hope and pray some way can be found to stabilise one of Scotland’s great clubs.