Thumb raking against a smart phone and cheeks hollowed on an E-cig, Eddie Fenwick paced outside Tynecastle praying for news from Lithuania.
On match days the stadium car park is buzzing with activity but yesterday only plasterer Eddie and his son Cameron were there as club officials waited inside, anxious for the phone to ring.
Something had made Eddie want to be there yesterday on the day his club were expected to learn of their potential salvation or disaster. After 37 years of making the fortnightly pilgrimage to Gorgie, the plasterer once again made the trek from his Dunfermline home.
For more than four hours they stayed glued to their hot handheld screens desperately refreshing in the hope of seeing a news alert appear. It was a scene played out in offices, homes and bars across Edinburgh – and by ex-pats around the world.
As the wait went on at Tynecastle, one club official emerged chirpy but stoical. “It wouldn’t be Hearts if we didn’t do it the hard way,” he sighed between angsty chomps on his chewing gum.
When the momentous phonecall came, he was outside in the car park in front of the anxiously waiting Eddie and Cameron, but stole discreetly out of earshot. Father and son held their breath.
The news from administrators BDO was inconclusive but not calamitous. Everyone breathed again. There was still hope.
“I came here today because I owe it to the club and I wanted to see history being made,” said Eddie, who is originally from Danderhall. “I’ve been coming here for decades but it’s not unusual for Hearts to take you to the brink.
“I was off today with the kids and wanted to come down and be here.
“I’m a little disappointed that a deal wasn’t completed but we live to fight another day.”
Popular fansite Jambos Kickback creaked under the huge weight of expectation with around 6500 nail-biting supporters refreshing pages frantically for the judgement.
“We had people logging on from every one of the 28 member countries of the European Union; every time zone in North America; India, China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and several other Asian countries; Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay; Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a number of other countries on the African continent,” said a site administrator. Most though – around 90 per cent of site visitors – lived within 15 miles of the stadium.
Inside the Tynecastle Arms regulars stoically accepted the news that the club would be facing yet another D-Day.
Elsewhere, Lord George Foulkes, an ex-chairman of Hearts and tireless supporter of the Foundation of Hearts takeover bid, was on “tenterhooks all day” and said administrators were set to meet with David Hunt, the British Ambassador to Lithuania, today.
“It could have been a day of salvation or despair but in the end it was neither,” he said.
“We are one step forward. I gather that Bryan Jackson [of BDO] is staying out in Lithuania and discussions are continuing. I think it’s neither a triumph nor a failure.
“I think the face-to-face meetings in Lithuania helps to move things forward. The longer they stay out there discussing the matter the more likely we are to get to a solution.”
He condemned “distracting” late interventions by Bob Jamieson and Pat Munro who were reportedly ready to bid for the club and issued a message to Hearts’ loyal support: “Keep everything crossed and encourage the administrators to keep pressing. Tell anyone else who is thinking of interfering to lay off.”
Squeaky-bum time has taken on a whole new meaning.
20-day cool-off period after agreement
The Foundation of Hearts said “positive discussions” were concluded in Lithuania despite a deal not being struck with Ukio and a formal meeting is now expected by the end of next week.
A spokesman for Ukio’s administrator said that the meeting would take place in “approximately two weeks”.
Earlier, FOH shared the good news that the first stage of the necessary twin agreement, with UBIG, had been struck: “UBIG agreement in place for share transfer. 20-day cooling off period commences but not anticipating any problems.”
FOH has the backing of 8000 supporters and plans a gradual takeover after Anne Budge puts up the £2.5 million needed to rescue the club. Hearts went into administration in June last year with debts of about £30m.