FOUNDATION of Hearts have no intention of working with Angelo Massone in a joint bid for Hearts. The Evening News can reveal that requests from Massone today to join forces with the fans’ umbrella group will be rejected, leaving the Italian to go it alone or withdraw his £4 million bid. Massone admitted the situation would become “very complicated” if his company, Five Stars Football Limited, has to fight against the Foundation for preferred bidder status.
earts’ administrators BDO want to identify a preferred bidder quickly but are still awaiting proof of funding from Massone. He has been given until close of business today to complete due diligence on the club’s finances before BDO will demand evidence of his finances. If he fails to provide it, he will be dismissed as a serious bidder after HMFC Limited were rejected last month.
Privately, the Foundation do not believe Massone has the money he claims to have, which may be behind his request to join forces with them. Foundation sources feel it would be detrimental to their bid to form any alliance with the former Livingston owner given almost 6000 fans have pledged money to the Foundation because they don’t want Massone owning Hearts.
Ian Murray, chairman of the Foundation, said he is suspicious about the Italian’s motives. “It’s strange he does this on the day he must prove funding to BDO after a near two-week extension. He’s had three months to contact Foundation of Hearts and, given I’m not the hardest person in the world to get hold of, indeed, neither are other Foundation directors, I feel somewhat suspicious. However, we have consistently said we’d talk to anyone with the best interests of the club at heart. I’ll let others decide if this individual fits that particular qualification given his well-documented history at Livingston.”
A spokesperson for Foundation of Hearts said: “While the Foundation is happy to talk to anyone who has the best interests of Heart of Midlothian, at no stage has Mr Massone or his representatives genuinely engaged with us.”
Massone’s £4million bid is greater than the Foundation’s up-front cash offer for a Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement, which if agreed would enable Hearts to exit administration. However, Massone has not detailed any working capital in his proposal. The Foundation have £3.75m available to run Hearts for the next three years and submitted proof of funding to BDO over two weeks ago. Since then, administrators for Hearts’ biggest creditor, Ukio Bankas, have threatened to liquidate the club if they don’t receive higher offers.
Massone’s appeal to the Foundation is likely to fall on deaf ears, though. Before Murray had outlined the Foundation’s stance, the Italian said: “We want to appeal to all supporters, including Foundation of Hearts, to work with us. Alone, the situation becomes very complicated for us. So we want to provide money to help Foundation of Hearts create a stable future for the club. We would be willing to invest our money together with FoH to create the platform to save the club. We can help them because, at the end of the day, they may not have the money to save the club. So it’s important to me to sit down with them and tell them that we are genuine about this. We want to work to save Hearts.
“I want to speak with Ian Murray in private and explain my thoughts and assure him that we have the same goals. I can’t speak directly for BDO but I am sure they would prefer all the parties to co-operate. The possible alternative is the liquidation of Hearts and that makes no sense for anyone. So my message is positive. I want to work with Foundation of Hearts to avoid liquidation of the club.”
On suggestions that he may not have the cash to go it alone, he said: “We have the money and we don’t have any problems getting it. I don’t know why people keep saying that it’s a problem. Don’t forget that I offered £4.5m directly to Mr Romanov last November. We can show we have the funds and that the money is not a problem.”