Hearts win stay of execution

  • Last Updated: November 13 2012, 20:29 GMT

Hearts have been given more time to pay their outstanding tax bill by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, lifting the immediate threat placed on them.

Hearts: Given more time to pay off taxman

The Edinburgh club said in a statement on Monday night that they had been granted until December 3 to settle their debts, with their owed amount of £449,692,04 being split over two payments.

The club have also provided HMRC with assurances that future payments would be made in a "timeous manner".

Hearts were last Wednesday served with a winding-up petition and given eight days in which to pay what they owed, putting their future in severe danger.

Hearts revealed the decision was also made possible after a number of senior first-team squad members offered to defer their November salaries, due on Friday, to a later date.

Director Sergejus Fedotovas said: "We are pleased that we have been granted this extension as it acknowledges the strenuous efforts that are going on to ensure this club continues to contribute to employment, society, community and football in Scotland.

"We have a lot of hard work ahead of us in order to fully rectify our financial position but with further backing and ongoing fundraising by supporters we know that we have a very positive opportunity to create a strong club for the future."

The case is just one of many financial issues at Tynecastle and a £1.75million tax case was revealed when a £1.79m share issue was recently launched.

Fedotovas praised the response of supporters to the scheme, which could ultimately lead to supporter ownership, and implored the backing to continue.

The news has come on a day when it was revealed Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov rebuffed an offer for the club from a group established long before the current perilous position was revealed.

Alex Mackie, chairman of the Foundation of Hearts, said: "We have been working for the past two years to try to convince the current owners that a transition to proper fan ownership was the way forward.

"At the weekend we did make an offer to the club. However, we have to announce that this initial offer, which included the Foundation paying the £450,000 bill to stop the winding-up order, has today been rejected by the current owners.

"We are now looking to continue our negotiations, which have always been constructive, with them.

"We are of the clear opinion that the future of Heart of Midlothian is based not on the model of a single owner but on fan ownership.

"So our discussions with the current owners have been based on the vision of the fans - through the vehicle of the Foundation of Hearts - purchasing the club.

"What we aim to deliver is a structure whereby fans have majority control, not the minority percentage which is currently being proposed by the current owners, and are involved in the management and running of the club.

"The Foundation was set up by a group of business people, all Hearts fans and all working in their own time and at their own expense, and we have the backing of the key Hearts supporters' organisations for our plans."

The proposal has the backing of Supporters Direct Scotland and full details of how it will work will soon be published.

Mackie added: "The principal aim of the Foundation is to acquire Tynecastle Stadium, the Heart of Midlothian brand, and the football rights of HMFC, debt-free and liability-free, for the long-term benefit of Heart of Midlothian and its fans.

"We also aim to stabilise the club financially, but this is a huge challenge and one which can only be achieved if the fans give it their long-term backing.

"We have examined rigorously the financial situation of the club and what it will take to move the club forward, and we have to make it absolutely clear that the future of Hearts depends on the fans making appropriate financial contributions.

"There is no 'white knight' in the Foundation's proposition. It is all down to us, the fans.

"If Scottish football is to flourish in the future, a new operating model needs to be found and the Foundation is keen to prove that fan-supported ownership can succeed in Scotland.

"Like all Hearts fans, we are passionate about our club and passionate about ensuring it has a future. Quite simply, it is now fan ownership or nothing, and we are totally committed to try to deliver that. The fans and this great club deserve nothing less."

Hearts dismissed the offer from Mackie's the Foundation of Hearts consortium out of hand.

A statement on the club's official website read: "The proposal has no consideration of cash for the shares of the club, even if the debt is removed completely and demonstrates a staggering misjudgement of the value of the club and a worrying lack of understanding of the situation.

"At best it is opportunistic, an attempt to exploit what is a difficult financial situation at the club.

"While the club remains open to genuine offers it will continue to operate with the support of its fan base who are rallying round the current Share Issue and a host of other fundraising events."

Fedotovas added: "When we move the club on it will be to the right people at the right time.

"With this in mind we have held positive initial discussions with Supporters Direct and we have asked this organisation for further talks on how we might be able to structure an appropriate supporter-led buy-out of the club.

"At present we will continue these talks with Supporters Direct in parallel with maintaining the momentum that is gathering behind the club's share issue and other fundraising activities.

"Together the staff, players, supporters, club partners and political and community groups are already making their mark on the club.

"With their continued support we do believe we can steer through the current financial challenges we face."

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