Senior officials in negotiations to save Hearts rate the club’s chances of survival as 50-50.
Administrators BDO are fighting to avoid liquidation but need a deal with Lithuanian creditors Ukio Bankas and Ukio Bankas Investment Group to be done in the next few weeks or Hearts could go to the wall.
Those involved in talks with the two companies, who between them hold almost 80 per cent of Hearts’ shares, are concerned by delays and are eager to move the process on. If they cannot reach agreement to transfer the shares and complete a £2.5million Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), the club could be liquidated in a matter of weeks. The chances of that happening were described today by one source as 50-50. Crucial creditors’ meetings at Ukio and UBIG are due to take place on Monday, April 7, with BDO senior partner Bryan Jackson keen to be in attendance. The Lithuanian creditors are expected to vote on whether to transfer the Hearts shares to Ann Budge’s BIDCO holding company, although some are unhappy with the cash being offered.
BDO are concerned by a lack of information coming from both Ukio and UBIG, who are both in administration themselves but have delayed vital meetings since Christmas. BDO have offered a token payment to UBIG for their 50 per cent stake. That was initially just more than £50,000 but is now believed to have risen to almost £100,000. Ukio stand to recoup £2.5m through the CVA for their 29.9 per cent stake as they are the only secured creditor with a charge over Tynecastle Stadium. Foundation of Hearts chairman Ian Murray admitted he is concerned at the prospect of liquidation. The united fans’ group hope to gain control from Budge within five years and have been working with her on the takeover bid. Murray explained that the fans are powerless for now.
“If the 7 April meeting either doesn’t take place or isn’t very positive, then I think everyone has known for some time that liquidation is a possibility,” said Murray. “The pressure is on them [UBIG administrators] to get this deal done. A liquidation event gives them nothing. The deal from FoH has been on the table for nearly eight months.
“We are all worried. We want to get this over the line. It’s been going on too long now and the information coming out of Lithuania is inconsistent or incomplete. We just have to wait out this process.
“There is nothing we can do about it.”