SENIOR Hearts officials arrived at Hampden Park today to plead their case with at least two Scottish Premier League clubs proposing that the Edinburgh side be placed under a transfer embargo until September 2013.
The Evening News has learned that certain chairmen within the SPL want Hearts punished for regularly paying players late. Two clubs have made it known that they favour an ten-month signing ban as an appropriate sanction. However, Hearts will staunchly fight any such penalty.
Today, an SPL sub-committee of chief executive Neil Doncaster, secretary Ian Blair and the Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson will decide the club’s fate for this month’s late payment of salaries. The same panel reprimanded them for September’s four-day delay on Monday.
Under new league rules, Hearts automatically fell under a transfer embargo when they missed the scheduled date for paying players’ salaries. The embargo for September’s delay was lifted at Monday’s sub-committee meeting and the ban for October is expected to be lifted today. It will then be down to the sub-committee to decide the actual punishment for breaking rules.
A points deduction is unlikely, although a fine and fixed-term ban on signings will be considered. Should the SPL adopt the above proposals to prevent Hearts registering any new players until September next year, the club would be banned from signing anyone over the age of 18. It would be January 2014 before they could participate in a transfer window, although free agents could be signed as soon as the embargo was lifted.
Hearts were today preparing a strong case for their defence against any severe sanctions. They are hoping for a more lenient punishment and were due to explain the financial background behind the latest two delays. The club is now operating without funding from parent company Ukio Bankas Investment Group and recent cashflow issues have led to delays processing wages.
Hearts are confident the delays will not be repeated, but the SPL will want to see proof of that over a sustained period of time.