HEARTS officials stressed today there are no imminent signings at Tynecastle following confirmation from the Scottish Professional Football League that their registration ban remains in place.
However, administrators BDO intend to try and register players on a one in, one out basis as Jambos idol Rudi Skacel returned to Riccarton for training.
The Czech midfielder is back in Edinburgh as a free agent and is willing to sign up for a third spell with Hearts along with Robbie Neilson, who is currently the club’s youth coach. The SPFL refused to lift Hearts’ registration embargo yesterday but, as per SPFL rule E16.1, they would consider any request to register a player to replace one who leaves.
BDO will now petition league officials to let them replace John Sutton, Marius Zaliukas and Andy Driver, who were all effectively made redundant after Hearts entered administration last June. It remains to be seen if league officials agree to that request. Hearts insist there are no plans to bring in a raft of players.
They would need to wait until February to register 34-year-old Skacel and 33-year-old Neilson in any case. The club remains subject to a separate Scottish Football Assocation sanction preventing them signing anyone over the age of 21 before the start of next month. Asked about the prospect of new players coming in, a Hearts spokesperson told the Evening News: “There are no signings imminent.”
Manager Gary Locke yesterday lost winger Jamie Walker for ten weeks with a fractured metatarsal. He said he doesn’t expect much help from the authorities to replenish his young and depleted squad.
“If they’ve said they’ll let us replace a player who leaves, then fine, we’ll try our best. You can only try. I certainly don’t hold out a lot of hope in terms of bringing fresh faces in,” he said.
Asked if Skacel would be at the front of the queue should signings be allowed, Locke replied: “He would certainly be up there. He’s only just arrived the other day and he hasn’t trained yet due to a tight calf. We haven’t managed to get a proper look at him so we’ll hopefully get that in the next couple of days. He certainly looks fit enough.
“He’s come in to train and keep himself fit. He’s looking reasonably fit, apart from the wee calf problem.
“He is over here so I’ve no problem with him coming in to train. For the young players, having that bit of experience on the training pitch is great.
“They need a help and with what Rudi has done in the game and where he’s been, he will hopefully give some of them a lift.”
Bryan Jackson of administrators BDO will lead the attempts to persuade the SPFL to let Hearts register players to replace Sutton, Zaliukas and Driver.
He said: “The SPFL have explained to me that they will consider applications for new players to be brought in on the one-in, one-out policy but that we have to make a formal application detailing which players would be coming in and which ones would be going out.
“I understand and accept the league’s position and we will now get to work on applications.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The rules are quite clear as to what the board can and cannot do. They can consider applications for individual players to be registered but to consider those applications they (SPFL board) do need to see a copy of the player’s contract and make it clear which player they are replacing.
“We haven’t had that and the board don’t have the flexibility to override that rule. That rule enabled Hearts to bring in Danny Wilson last January and last summer ten players were registered on the basis of one-in, one-out at Hearts. In some quarters it has been portrayed as an appeal against a decision but there is no appeal.”