Things in the Scottish Premier League have gone from bad to worse as Hearts is now preparing for administration.
The club confirmed the move on Tuesday, with a club spokesman saying: “We are not in administration yet but we have served our intention to appoint administrators.” It is widely believed that those administrators will come from KPMG, the mega-accountancy firm. Club creditors have been informed and a hearing is expected to take place in the next few days.
Hearts were issued a winding up order last week after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs threatened legal action over an unpaid tax bill of £100,000. Although the majority of that sum is belived to be paid off, the club board at Hearts admitted they had entered a “critical” stage in their efforts to pay off debts of £25 million. They also admitted to not being able to afford to pay their players.
These admissions triggered an immediate transfer embargo by the SPL and the entire squad was put up for sale in a desperate move to raise the reported £500,000 needed to get the club to the start of the season. If Hearts do make it that far the club is likely to face a 15 point deduction by the league as SPL rules state that involvency will strip a club of 10 points or a third of their previous season’s tally, whichever is the greater. Hearts finished the 2012-13 campaign in 10th place with 45 points.
The sad news of Hearts only adds to the troubles that have plagued the SPL over the last few years.
Last summer, the league took what was arguably its biggest hit when Glasgow Rangers became insolvent and entered administration, resulting in liquidation when an agreement could not be reached with its creditors. The club’s business, name, history and assets (including the Ibrox Stadium) were purchased by a new company (The Rangers Football Club Ltd aka “newco Rangers”).
This purchase allowed Rangers’ Scottish Football Association membership to be transferred in time to enable the club to relaunch itself in the Scottish Football League’s Third Division for the 2012-13 season. Rangers finished first in the division and next season will be playing in the Second Division.
If such a transformation is to happen at Hearts, a white knight needs to save the club, and quickly.