Hearts: Angelo Massone yet prove he has funding

Angelo Massone's Five Stars Football Limited are one of three parties interested in buying Hearts. Picture: Gareth Easton
Angelo Massone's Five Stars Football Limited are one of three parties interested in buying Hearts. Picture: Gareth Easton
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ANGELO MASSONE has yet to provide proof of funding for his £4 million bid for Hearts, the Evening News can reveal. The Italian has been told by the club’s administrators, BDO, to submit evidence of his cash within two weeks or he will be discounted from the bidding process.

All three suitors for the Edinburgh club were asked by BDO to show proof of funding by 5pm last Wednesday, however Massone failed to submit the required information. Doubts are increasing over the credibility of his offer but the Hearts administrators are willing to give him more time.

A bid from Bob Jamieson’s HMFC Limited was dismissed yesterday as administrators for Hearts’ biggest creditor, Ukio Bankas, rejected all offers to date for the Edinburgh club. Foundation of Hearts and Massone’s Five Stars Football Limited have been given the chance to increase their offers but HMFC Limited are no longer in the running.

Jamieson said: “One of my colleagues got an email from BDO. It was pretty vague but part of it said the offer was of an unacceptable level.”

The Foundation’s proposal is by far the most credible. BDO have told Massone to detail who is backing his bid for Hearts and where the money is coming from within two weeks. He will do due diligence during that period but will no longer be considered a serious contender by BDO if he does not provide proof of funding in time.

Massone’s offer is just over £4m but it is not clear how much working capital he can provide to run Hearts. The Foundation’s bid has been significantly increased from the initial £2m it tabled but still amounts to less than Massone’s. The Foundation has an extra £3.75m in reserve to fund Hearts for the next three years and is also willing to take on all of the club’s £500,000 “football debt”.

Valentas UAB, the administrators for Ukio Bankas, has indicated it would accept around £5m in a Credtors’ Voluntary Agreement (CVA) for Hearts to exit administration. Sources at BDO believe a deal could be done for slightly less, but the priority now is to force the Foundation and Massone to increase their bids.

Gintaras Adomonis, general director of Valnetas, has threatened to liquidate Hearts if offers do not meet his valuation. Ukio is owed £15m by the club and hold 29.9 per cent of shares. Hearts’ parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group, is owed £10m but the company is officially insolvent with its assets frozen. BDO expect to negotiate with whoever is named permanent administrator of UBIG to get hold of the 50 per cent shareholding it has in Hearts.

The troubles at Hearts are similar to those at Dunfermline, where a CVA must be agreed today to avoid liquidation.

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, is refusing to panic and will not ask clubs to guarantee they can fulfil fixtures.

“That has never been the case, even for clubs in administration,” he said. “All we can do is continue to monitor the situation. Hearts will begin the season with a 15-point penalty but dialogue is continuing between the administrators and Ukio Bankas. If they can get a CVA away there will be no need for the SPFL to become further involved.

“If not, and if there is a request to transfer their share, the matter will be dealt with by our board. There is no point in speculating about what may or may not happen. For example, I’m led to believe the situation at Dunfermline is not as bleak as has been made out.”