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Football | Europe

Andrew Driver © Action Images

Hearts dismiss takeover approach



Scottish Cup holders Hearts said on Tuesday they had staved off the immediate threat of liquidation after reaching an agreement with British tax authorities over the payment of a £450 000 bill.

The Scottish Premier League club were served last week with a winding up order by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over the unpaid bill, with the Edinburgh side initially having until this Friday to settle-up.

But a statement on Hearts' website on Tuesday said they had agreed a payment plan which will now see the bill settled by December 3.

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

Hearts added the new deal had been made possible by the decision of several first-team players to defer their November salaries to a later date.

Now Hearts can look forward to this weekend's game against St Mirren in the knowledge it will not be their last and eased doubts over the viability of future fixtures at the Jambos' Tynecastle ground against Celtic (November 28) and Aberdeen (December 8).

Last week Hearts urged fans to come to the club's financial aid by buying tickets for forthcoming home games and director Sergejus Fedotovas said Tuesday: "Make no mistake the fans and players have been instrumental in achieving this extension with HMRC.

"The supporters' efforts have been quite phenomenal. However, it is essential that they continue all their work to assist us in meeting financial targets at the club." Hearts recently launched a £1.79million share issue but the prospectus revealed another tax dispute.

HMRC has claimed unpaid tax liabilities in the region of £1.75 million relating to loan agreements for a number of players who joined Hearts from Lithuanian club Kaunas, who were then run by Vladimir Romanov, the Jambos' majority shareholder since 2005.

Earlier Tuesday, Hearts said they had declined an "opportunistic" approach from a consortium led by businessman Alex Macki.

"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," said an earlier Hearts statement.

"At best it is opportunistic; an attempt to exploit what is a difficult financial situation at the club. No evidence was provided on how the club would be operated and resourced after any potential purchase."

Tuesday also saw Rangers chief executive Charles Green predict the Scottish Football League will unveil plans for league reconstruction later this week.

Court action by HMRC saw Rangers taken into administration in February, with administrators later announcing the club had failed to pay about £9 million in tax.

And following expulsion from the SPL, Rangers have found themselves on the fourth-tier Third Division this season.

Green, speaking before Hearts' stay of execution, added: "Hearts have got into financial difficulty and there were rumours in the papers that there were another couple of SPL clubs in financial difficulty so it is a time for change.

"Whether the SPL could survive if two clubs go out of business would be really questionable."

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