Romanov warns finding buyer for Hearts won’t be easy

Ian Georgeson'07921 567 360'Austria, Walchsee'Hearts Pre-Season Training'Vladimir Romanov

Ian Georgeson'07921 567 360'Austria, Walchsee'Hearts Pre-Season Training'Vladimir Romanov

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VLADIMIR ROMANOV was warned today to expect serious difficulty finding a buyer for any of his clubs because investors across Europe are refusing to stake their capital in football.

VLADIMIR ROMANOV was warned today to expect serious difficulty finding a buyer for any of his clubs because investors across Europe are refusing to stake their capital in football.

Liutaurus Varanavicius, president of Lithuania’s Football Federation and a former Hearts director, believes Romanov’s pledge to sell Hearts, FBK Kaunas and Partizan Minsk means little because of the current economic climate and the lack of return on investments in football clubs.

Varanavicius, also a former Kaunas president, worked closely with Romanov and Ukio Bankas Investment Group during their takeover of Hearts in 2005. Surveying the football scene across Europe, he said the landscape has changed dramatically since then. Romanov’s shareholding in Hearts stands at over 90 per cent but earlier this week he revealed his disillusion with football and has instructed agents to find buyers for all three clubs funded by UBIG.

Reports last night claimed that two parties, one from Edinburgh and the other London-based, which wished to remain anonymous, were interested in taking over Hearts. However, following extensive inquiries, the Evening News found no evidence to support these claims.

Varanavicius stressed Romanov may face a long wait before being able to walk away from any of his clubs, particularly Hearts where debt levels hover around £36million. “Currently, in Germany, you can buy a good club in the Bundesliga II for £4million or £5million,” said Varanavicius. “Do you believe anybody would buy a club in Scotland with £36million debt?

“When I was a director at Hearts it would have been possible to do a deal, when the club was not owned over 90 per cent by one person. Currently, I don’t see anybody coming and buying Hearts unless the debt is written off, which is not possible. It’s just too big for the company.

“We hear a lot of stories but I will wait and see how it develops.

“There is nobody in Lithuania buying, nobody in Belarus buying.

“Currently there are no buyers for football clubs.

“In my opinion, it’s total nonsense. You can’t sell something if nobody is willing to buy it. I think it will be a different story.”

* HEARTS’ SPL match with Motherwell at Tynecastle on Christmas Eve has been rescheduled to kick-off at 1pm that day at the request of both clubs.