HEARTS have opened talks with interested parties on a potential takeover, however director Sergejus Fedotovas dismissed any prospect of the club being sold on the cheap.
Vladimir Romanov, the current majority shareholder, is determined that any new investors have the appropriate financial backing to sustain Hearts long-term. Fedotovas warned that anyone considering making an offer for Romanov’s shares should ensure they can meet the owner’s valuation, publicly stated as £50 million.
Doubts remain over whether Romanov can realistically demand such a fee for Hearts given the club’s debt exceeds £30m. The Evening News revealed recently that a consortium involving the former Tynecastle chairman Leslie Deans was interested in gaining control. Another group with links in London have also explored the possibility of a buyout.
Fedotovas confirmed talks will continue with anyone who has expressed an interest. “Discussions have already taken place with several interested parties,” he told the Hearts website. “In some cases there is a big difference between interest and substance and it is the board’s responsibility to ensure that the club is sold to the right people who can fund and manage it properly.
“There are plenty of examples where new buyers fail over the first 12 months. So my advice to people who are considering buying Hearts and do not hold significant financial reserves appropriate to fund and invest into the business – you need to discuss your ideas with professional financial and legal advisors in order to check if your offer is viable and seek their help to provide an offer on your behalf.
“We have had discussions with individuals and groups from Scotland and outside UK. It would be great to sell to a Scottish-based investor or consortium but we remain open minded on the matter. There are also important criteria that will have to be met by any potential buyer. Firstly buyers must make a realistic offer for the club. The present majority owner has outlined his understanding of the value.
“An offer through an official legal or financial adviser will be more helpful. They must also demonstrate they have the realistic financial backing to carry out the purchase and to maintain the viability of the club on an ongoing basis.”
Hearts remain engulfed in crisis as issues paying wages continue, and their problems will be compounded on Monday when winger Andy Driver submits a formal transfer request.
The player is frustrated at a lack of game time this season having made just eight appearances in total, and only two since September. He informed Paulo Sergio yesterday that he has no wish to play for him again and on Monday will hand in a written transfer request citing irrepairable differences with the manager.
Driver learned yesterday that he would not be playing against Dunfermline today and is disillusioned at being frozen out of the first-team under Sergio. He held a meeting with the Portuguese and told him he would be asking for a transfer.
The 24-year-old is keen to try and relaunch his career elsewhere, with the English Championship being a possible destination. Any move, however, will depend on Hearts’ willingness to let him leave as the winger is contracted until June 2013.
December’s player salaries were not paid by Hearts yesterday after the squad received November’s wages on Thursday, 29 days late. Consequently, a complaint against the club has been lodged with the Scottish Premier League on behalf of the players.