PFA Scotland chief Fraser Wishart has warned Hearts they face a UEFA ban if outstanding wages are still due to players by the end of December.
Despite just one win in their last six games, Hearts are fifth in the SPL and remain in the running to win a place in the Europa Leaue next season. However, qualification could be annulled if the club were to breach UEFA rules on settling wages due to players and transfer fees due to fellow clubs by the end of the calendar year.
Hearts have competed in continental competition for five of the last nine campaigns but the prospect of a return to the European arena is in serious jeopardy if the players are not paid in the next three weeks.
“Under UEFA rules, clubs cannot owe monies to players or other clubs at the end of December,” explained Wishart. “Failure to deal with all outstanding football debt may result in the club being unable to play in Europe. UEFA will have to be informed of the wages debt.
“These are all steps no-one wishes to make. But it is clear, as workers with families, the players cannot continue to work much longer without any sign of being paid.”
Meanwhile, Wishart urged the SPL to wield their power in an effort to help the Hearts players, who have now waited more than three weeks to receive their November salary. Their December pay date looms in a week’s time.
PFA Scotland is of the understanding that the SPL has “the power of inquiry into financial arrangements between clubs and players within their current regulations”.
Wishart said: “The governing bodies have an obligation to the integrity of the game in this country and it is imperative that from this aspect our members are paid.
“Players sign standard contracts which are registered with the governing bodies. As part of this contract players also have to adhere to the registration processes put in place by the governing bodies.
“The governing bodies also adjudicate upon any disputes and are responsible. There is therefore a care of duty to ensure that these very contracts are being honoured.”
Last night, representatives of the SPL stressed the governing body will not become involved in the dispute unless a complaint is made. A statement read: “Under the standard SPL player’s contract, the SPL has the power to adjudicate on any complaint made by a player or players. To date, no such complaint has been received in relation to any Hearts player.
“Any appeal against an adjudication by the SPL would be heard by the SFA. While the SPL and SFA have the utmost sympathy for any player not being paid, it would be inappropriate to meet with the players. To do so risks prejudicing any case that might be heard.”