HEARTS directors must conduct a “fit and proper person” test on any new owner before agreeing a deal to sell the club, with the Scottish Football Association unable to veto any takeover.
The Evening News has learned that responsibility for vetting the new owner of a club lies with outgoing board members and not the SFA, who cannot prevent anyone gaining control of a club provided due diligence has been carried out by existing owners. Those rules were put in place at the SFA’s AGM in June.
Hearts this week rejected a £4.5million takeover bid by the former Livingston owner Angelo Massone, stating that the Italian “may not be the right person to take the club forward”. They also claimed his offer undervalued the club. “Bidders will need to provide a financial offer to reflect the value of the club, be fit to run it as required by the Scottish FA and disclose their plans going forward,” said a statement released by the Edinburgh club. The Tynecastle board must do thorough background checks on anyone they wish to sell to, including obtaining bank guarantees. Once they are of the mind that the people coming in are “fit and proper”, they would then pass all relevant information on to the SFA. However, at no point could the authorities at Hampden Park reject any deal as a sport’s governing body cannot dictate company law.
The SFA’s checks would involve ensuring that any incoming owner complied with their own sporting rules for running a football club, which include the person in question never having been disqualified as a director before.