HEARTS will only be permitted to sign players aged under 21 on a one in, one out basis after being found guilty of breaching Scottish Premier League rules over bonus payments.
A meeting was held at Hampden yesterday morning to consider two charges relating to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League club’s payment of appearance money and bonuses.
An indefinite player registration embargo imposed earlier this month remains in place “until such time as the SPL board is satisfied that the remuneration default is no longer ongoing”, while restrictions have been placed on any future transfer activity at Tynecastle.
Those restrictions are: One out, one in (ie the club will only be able to replace such number of players as have their registrations with the club terminated – whether by sale, mutual agreement or otherwise);
Only under-21 players (as defined in the SPL rules) will be able to be registered, while any new under-21 player registered must have an annualised employment cost lower than that of the player leaving the club.
A statement from the SPL read: “The sub-committee found the club guilty of breaching SPL Rules A6.21 and A6.22 in respect of a number of players.
“The club remains subject to the existing registration embargo, which will continue in effect until such time as the SPL board is satisfied that the remuneration default is no longer ongoing.
“However, the decision of the sub-committee today was that the club should be made subject to further restrictions on the registration of players.”
When charged earlier this month, Hearts indicated they would challenge based on there being no written due date for payment of bonuses in some players’ contracts.
Following the SPL’s verdict yesterday, a Hearts spokesperson said on the club’s official website: “The club is currently consulting with its lawyers with a view to considering its available options and will make a fuller statement in due course.”
Much of the Hearts hierarchy – including majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov – are based in Lithuania and the time difference, coupled with the New Year holiday, means further comment from the club may be delayed.
Manager John McGlynn is in line to face the media tomorrow to preview Thursday’s Edinburgh derby with Hibernian at Tynecastle and may be the first to publicly comment.
Despite winning the William Hill Scottish Cup in May with a 5-1 win over their Edinburgh rivals, Hearts have endured a torrid 2012 off the field.
A £450,000 winding up order was recently averted, while an agreement was reached over a separate issue to pay £1.5 million over a three-year period.
Hearts raised £1m from a share issue designed to raise £1.79m and face a shortfall of £800,000 this season unless attendances are above expectations.
McGlynn was installed in the summer when costs were reduced and tasked to introduce young players.
Many of Hearts’ leading players are out of contract at the end of the season and could depart during the winter transfer window, which opened today.
Speaking last week, McGlynn said: “We’re going to have to go through a transitional period right now and another one in the summer. That’s how it will be. If we have to put more younger players into the team then fair enough.
“That was my brief – to come here and try to bring through young players.
“This is probably the most difficult time for Heart of Midlothian Football Club; I don’t think they’ve ever had a transfer embargo in the past or been so close to a winding up order. It’s a big challenge.”
If a transfer embargo is lifted, Hearts must abide by these rules when signing players:
• One out, one in (ie the club will only be able to replace such number of players as have their registrations with the club terminated - whether by sale, mutual agreement or otherwise)
• Only under-21 players (as defined in the SPL rules) will be able to be registered
• Any new under-21 player registered must have an annualised employment cost lower than that of the player leaving the club.