The white flag has been run up the mast of the sinking ship that is Heart of Midlothian, with Vladimir Romanov jumping ship in a scene reminiscent of Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia; the Russian-born businessman has left players, staff and fans alike to fend for themselves.
Hearts officially announced on Monday that they are in the process of lodging papers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh and have approached accountancy firm KPMG to act as their administrators.
In a statement via the official website, it read: “Heart of Midlothian plc can today confirm that it has served a notice of intention to appoint an administrator. The notice was served at the Court of Session in Edinburgh this afternoon.”
The inevitable descent into administration comes a week after the club faced a winding-up order by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as they threatened action over a £100,000 tax bill that was outstanding.
With debts of £25 million, owed to Ukios Bankos and UBIG currently in insolvency themselves, the entire playing squad was put up for sale as the club desperately searched for around £500,000 which would keep them up and running over the summer months with all revenue streams dried up.
With the club entering administration, it means they will start next season with a 15 points deduction in the SPL. If they exit administration before the start of the season, then they could escape any form of punishment, but if they veer towards liquidation as Rangers did last season then they would inevitably face starting life in the bottom tier of Scottish football all over again.
Around 131 people are employed by the Tynecastle side, including 26 first team players and 10 youth players and they could see themselves out on Gorgie Road with their valuables in cardboard boxes as KPMG comes in to cut costs as quickly as possible – staff wages being the biggest expenditure on the books.
Currently, Ukios Bankos owns 29.9% of the clubs shares, while UBIG has 50% of the shareholding. Ukios Bankas also own Tynecastle stadium and with potentially six suitors waiting in the wings they will have to do a deal to secure it.
So just over eight years after Vladimir Romanov rode in on his rusty K19 submarine, promising regular Champions League football and everything else under the sun to disgruntled Jambos fed up with the Chris Robinson regime, he has led the Edinburgh institution close to oblivion.
Two Scottish Cup victories, 11 managers and £25 million worth of debts later, Romanov’s tenure will be seen as what it was – a huge farce and will join Scottish Football’s Hall of Shame, which includes Angelo Massone, Gavin Masterton and Craig Whyte.