With the risk of Hearts winding up in the coming days due to a tax bill owed to HMRC, Rangers have tried to take advantage of the Edinburgh side’s financial issues by trying to re-negotiate the terms of payment for defender Lee Wallace.
Wallace moved to Ibrox in July 2011 in a deal worth £1.5 million, however £800,000 is still owed to Hearts. But with HMRC giving them less than a week to pay a tax bill of around £450,000, Rangers stated they will pay £500,000 now to close the deal.
However Hearts owner, Vladimir Romanov has snubbed the offer. Ranger’ previous agreement with Hearts, would see the Third Division side pay Hearts £300,000 in January and then settle up in July with a final payment of £500,000.
Hearts also face a separate £1.75 million tax bill but are disputing the bill, which involves loans deals for Kaunas players.
Director Sergejus Fedotovas has admitted that the club’s launch of a share issue was to help play the tax bill, despite rubbishing previous reports that it was to pay the tax bill which was announced just days after the publication of share issue.
Fedotovas said: “HMRC was made aware we were launching a share issue. And we had an understanding with them that they would allow us to take a run with the share issue that would allow us to pay them.”
Fedotovas has also criticised the handling of Hearts’ financial situation, by HMRC, he added: “In this situation HMRC have been very difficult. It appears they don’t want to see anything, they don’t want to listen to anything. There were situations in the past but we’ve dealt with that before.
“Now the amounts are dramatically lower. The overdue amounts are just from last month and the previous quarter. They [HMRC] are treating this situation really wrong. This is not just a usual business. It’s a club, it’s an institution. It means a lot to people in Edinburgh and in this country.”
Despite the threat of closure, Fedotovas is confident that the Tynecastle side can stave off closure.
He continued: “I think they [Hearts] will continue, but only with the help of the people and with the good will and determination. We all need to believe and do something about it. I need to say thank you to the great supporters. They’re really great people, who heard our call, bought shares and are looking for various ways to help the club.
“They really feel that this club is part of their life, and I can’t find the right words to express my gratitude for that. The numbers have picked up. We are seeing some progress. Hopefully this will continue because we need it, we really need it.”
With the troubles off the park manager John McGlynn cannot guarantee that next week’s game against St. Mirren will go ahead. He said: “If HMRC wind us up before that, then no. That is the case. No-one’s hiding from that but we’ve got to get that game on, time will tell.”
“I think everyone realises that this is drastic. Whether you’re the manager or a fan, you understand that this is a very, very
critical situation that hasn’t happened in the past to this extent, so it is more concerning.”
With the fans and organisations trying to raise funds for the club, with an estimated £200,000 raised already, McGlynn has called on everyone to be united in one common goal the survival of Hearts.
He continued: “The fundraising that’s been going on has been enormous, so if that continues maybe the players will get paid in full. Anything is possible. We’re nearly half way there so if we all pull in the same direction and stand firm, we will get there. We stay professional and we plan for next Saturday.”