HEARTS staff are furious after outgoing directors signed off from duty in an email and left employees fearing for their jobs.
The club officially entered administration yesterday as auditing firm BDO began work at Tynecastle. However, no board member appeared in person to address employees or apologise for the fallen Lithuanian regime.
Instead, director Sergejus Fedotovas sent an email to all staff thanking them for their “enormous efforts” and wishing them well under a “new regime”. The Evening News can reveal that Fedotovas’ fellow director Vitalijus Vasiliauskas was in Edinburgh on Sunday to sign papers signalling Hearts’ intent to enter administration. However, he flew back to Lithuania on Monday and chose not to speak to staff.
The only other board member, chairman Roman Romanov, has not been seen at the club in more than five years since he claimed Scottish football was “fixed” during Hearts’ AGM in April 2008. A source close to Tynecastle said today: “The staff feel let down that they weren’t given a face-to-face address by any of the directors. While the email was welcomed, it was lacking in an admission of guilt on the board’s part.
“That’s something they’ve been culpable of since coming in. It’s never been their fault. They’re gone now, which is the bottom line, so things can move forward hopefully. I would think we’re unlikely to see them back in Edinburgh.”
Fedotovas’ email claimed the board did not foresee the recent collapse of Hearts’ parent company Ukio Bankas Investment Group in Lithuania. He also blamed lack of revenue from season tickets as a factor in a funding shortfall.
“Our club is on the verge of a transformation that will hopefully bring new fortunes to Tynecastle,” read the email to staff. “The events in Lithuania and our income recently were not according to the most conservative plan and made it impossible to sustain the business with all means available to us.
“At our last meeting at the end of May we have been honestly positive regarding our future hoping that reasonably assessed season-ticket sales will carry us forward until the start of the season but it was not our expectation to see UBIG filing for insolvency and for this to have such a negative impact on our revenues.
“I need to thank you for all your work and enormous efforts that helped us finish the season. I hope you will get deserved recognition and will be treated well under the new regime. I would like to thank all of you for your work and dedication to this football club. All you have done will take its place in history.”
Bryan Jackson, Trevor Birch and James Stephen are the administrators now in charge of Hearts on BDO’s behalf. They were due to meet with staff today. Asked if job cuts are inevitable, Jackson said: “Yes, I think so. It’s a huge club with a huge support and you know that support will rally round.
“If people don’t support us [and] if there are not buyers and not funding, then obviously we can’t continue because we can’t keep the doors open.”
As revealed earlier this week, four groups have a credible interest in taking control of Hearts. The best placed at the moment would appear to be the UK-based consortium which is represented by Stephen Paterson and Fraser Kerr of Haines Watts accountants.
The Scottish Premier League confirmed yesterday that Hearts will begin the new campaign with a 15-point deduction as a result of entering administration. They will also be unable to register any new players whilst in administration.
An SPL spokesperson said: “As Heart of Midlothian is subject to an Insolvency Event, a 15 point deduction will be applied to its total points in the League Championship for next season 2013/14. In addition, Heart of Midlothian is subject to an embargo on registering players with the SPL whilst in administration.”