FOUR bidders for Hearts were today stepping up their efforts to gain control after the club signalled their intention to appoint administrators.
Foundation of Hearts are heavily involved, however the Evening News can reveal two Edinburgh businessmen plus a consortium in London and one in the US are considering offers for the stricken Edinburgh club.
Stephen Paterson and Fraser Kerr, of accountancy firm Haines Watts, are the newest potential investors to emerge. They are understood to be conducting their own due diligence on Hearts’ finances and believe they can turn the club around if given preferred bidder status by administrators. Both men are experienced financial experts and Kerr is part of the Hearts Youth Development Committee.
Foundation of Hearts have been in discussions with groups in London and the United States and a possible joint bid involving the Foundation and one or more investor will be considered if it is in Hearts’ best interests.
Hearts sources confirmed today that they have not received any bids for control as yet. The Foundation offered £450,000 last November, whilst the former Livingston owner Angelo Massone had a £4.5 million offer rejected. The club faces an anxious wait to learn whether they can appoint KPMG as administrators, with Ukio Bankas administrators set to challenge the matter in court.
Papers lodged by Hearts officials at Edinburgh’s Court of Session yesterday named KPMG’s Blair Nimmo and Tony Fryer as nominated administrators. However, Valnetas UAB, administrators of Ukio, want their own people in charge of the process. That could potentially lead to a scenario where Tynecastle Stadium is sold off to recoup some of the £15m Hearts owe Ukio.
If KPMG are appointed they would be obliged to look after the best interests of Hearts, but as Hearts’ major creditors Ukio administrators could force their own appointment, who would then be duty-bound to serve them alone.
Hearts were today praying that the court appoints KPMG as quickly as possible.
One source admitted the sitation is “high-risk” due to the potential for Tynecastle to be sold off. If that situation arose, Foundation of Hearts would almost certainly attempt to secure the ground on the club’s behalf.
“If it becomes a property deal, I would hope somebody, even Foundation of Hearts, would buy the stadium as part of the ongoing rebirth of the club,” said the Foundation’s independed chair, Ian Murray, today.
“Rules are rules. This process started because directors of Hearts decided the club can no longer meet their liabilites. KPMG’s name is on the papers submitted to courts but that can be challenged.
“It can be challenged by Hearts’ major creditor, which is Ukio Bankas, and they’re entitled to appoint their own administrator.
“They are going to have to appoint someone local. I think rules are that they can’t use someone who has administered or liquidated a club in the last 12 months, so that rules out big companies involved at Dunfermline and Rangers. There aren’t many left.
“Tynecastle could be sold off but hopefully, if that happened, it would go to someone who wanted to play football there.
“The whole planning issues around Tynecastle are quite complicated. We saw that with the application to build a new main stand some time ago. There are problems with the proximity of flammable liquids and ethanol from the nearby distillery.
“It’s not an easy property deal to do.”