Hearts administrators BDO will enlist political help in an effort to save the Edinburgh club following crunch talks at Tynecastle yesterday.
Bryan Jackson, the administrator in charge of Hearts, is expected to meet Lithuania’s UK ambassador, David Hunt, in London this week before flying to the Baltic State in person to press for the club’s shares to be transferred from Ukio Bankas and Ukio Bankas Investment Group (UBIG).
Jackson is concerned at not receiving feedback from Ukio or UBIG, who hold almost 80 per cent of Hearts’ shares between them and whose creditors must approve any share transfer. Fears over the club being liquidated are increasing as BDO only have money to run Hearts until the end of April or early May at the latest.
A meeting aimed at accelerating the process took place at Tynecastle yesterday between Jackson, Hearts’ managing director David Southern and former chairman George Foulkes. The latter has already petitioned Lithuania’s UK ambassador for help and is helping arrange for Jackson to meet him in person this week.
He admitted he is concerned about the prospect of Hearts being liquidated if the shares are not transferred to prospective owner Ann Budge in the next few weeks, despite a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) being agreed in November.
“If we move towards liquidation, the creditors get nothing at all. It should be in their interests to agree this CVA as quickly as possible,” Foulkes told the Evening News. “That point should be made to them and, if necessary, Hearts’ administrators should be saying this to the creditors at the creditors’ meeting to get the message across.
“Over the last few weeks, I’ve had so many fans expressing their anxiety to me because this has been drifting on. Yet, at the same time, they’re continuing to pledge to Foundation of Hearts, turning up in good numbers at games and really backing the club in every way. They’re getting increasingly anxious about what’s happening in Lithuania.
“I think it’s only fair to them that everyone concerned pulls out the stops. I went to Vilnius for a conference about NATO but I took time out and went to see the ambassador, specifically to talk to him about Hearts because I was so worried about the situation.
“I really do think it’s time to pull out all the stops. I had a meeting yesterday with Bryan Jackson and David Southern and I said that to them. We agreed that it was the right time for Bryan to go back out to Lithuania to find out what is happening and try to get this whole thing resolved because it’s been drifting for far too long.
“He’s also going to see the Lithuanian ambassador in London. I told them I’d seen the UK ambassador in Lithuania and he is willing to do everything he can to help.
“It’s ten months since Hearts entered administration and that’s a long time. We keep getting told a meeting in February is going to resolve it, then a meeting in March is going to resolve it, now a meeting in April is going to solve it.
“The fans are very anxious at the delay, very nervous about it. We’ve got to sort things out and get things moving. It’s not clear what is holding this up. That’s why it’s important that the Hearts administrator is out there to speak to people face to face and find out what the issue is.”
Creditors at Ukio Bankas – Hearts’ largest and only secured creditor with a 29.9 per cent stake in the club – were due to vote on the share transfer last Friday but the meeting appears to have been deferred. UBIG hold a 50 per cent stake. Their creditors were scheduled to meet the same day but will now convene next Monday, April 7.