Massone revives Hearts interest as SPL debate crisis at Tynecastle

 

Angelo Massone is preparing a second offer for Hearts as the Scottish Premier League board gathers to discuss the financial plight of the club.

The former Livingston owner had an approach for the Tynecastle outfit rejected in November.

However, the Italian has instructed an Edinburgh legal firm to act on his behalf as he weighs up another bid.

The SPL board will debate the fall-out from Hearts' parent company UBIG requesting to be declared insolvent.

The league season closed at the weekend, with Hearts finishing in 10th place after a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen.

But, if the SPL board decides there has been a rule breach regarding an insolvency event prior to the season's end, any subsequent action will apply to this campaign.

That could mean that Hearts are deducted a third of the 52 points they earned in season 2011/12.

Hearts can run perfectly well on their own and surely they can't put them down, they are too big a club

Billy Brown Former Hearts assistant manager

Rounded up, the loss of 18 points would mean they finish bottom of the table, behind Dundee.

UBIG and its sister company, Ukio Bankas, to whom Hearts owe £15m and which has collapsed with debts of £380m, owns 79% of Hearts' shares.

Former Tynecastle assistant manager Billy Brown lays the blame for Hearts' predicament squarely at the door of Vladimir Romanov, who controlled Lithuania-based UBIG and has owned Hearts since 2005.

"It's a terrible situation and a situation that was always going to develop, the way the club was being run," the East Fife manager told BBC 5 live.

"But surely today the SPL board can't relegate Hearts. We've already had one of the biggest teams in the world [Rangers] relegated to the lowest division and now we're going to potentially relegate one of the biggest teams in Scotland as well.

"It's crazy. We've got to keep the top teams in the top league or else there'll be no competition at all.

"The way the owner of the club was spending money and paying money to players, that really wasn't sustainable.

"It was a crazy situation for the size of club we are, but Hearts can run perfectly well on their own and surely they can't put them down, they are too big a club.

"We need all the big clubs in the top league in Scotland as far as I am concerned."

Six months ago, Hearts released a statement saying they had rebuffed an offer from Massone that undervalued the club, adding that the board "feels the Italian may not be the right person to take the club forward".

Massone later told BBC Scotland that he had tabled a £4.5m bid and that his ultimate goal was to hand control over to fans.

The Italian spent a year running Livingston and left in 2009 with the club in administration and close to going out of business.

As a result, the West Lothian club were demoted from the First Division to the Third Division and have since worked their way back up to Scotland's second tier.

Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan said it was a matter for the SPL to make a decision about whether Hearts received any penalties.

"As far as the transfer of the club and the share of the transfer of the SPL share, that's down to the league and they would have to go through their own internal process," he said.

"Any membership transfer would be a matter for our board. Last year, we changed our articles that any outgoing regime has to make sure the regime they bring in complies with the articles of the Scottish FA in relation to fit and proper and that has to be scrutinised by our own board."

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