Sutton fears for Hearts' future as financial crisis threatens Edinburgh club
23:20 GMT, 28 October 2012
Hearts striker John Sutton has spoken of his fears for the future of the Tynecastle club as he issued a rallying cry to secure the survival of the 138-year-old institution.
Vladimir Romanov’s troubled outfit faces a potentially devastating confrontation with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs next month, the club having been issued with a demand for unpaid taxes of 1.75million.
The club are under a transfer embargo after a continued failure to pay staff on time and last week launched a share issue hoping to raise 1.8m as controversial owner Romanov maintains his course of cutting ties with the Tynecastle club.
Fears: John Sutton (centre) is worried about Hearts' future
‘We are really worried about the situation, but I can’t say it’s anything new,’ said Sutton.
‘Since I’ve been here, there’s always been a couple of issues floating around on the financial side of things. The board have been open enough in the (share) brochure to say there are dangers for the club ahead. But they are also optimistic about the future and, hopefully, as players, we can start to do our bit.
‘If we start winning games, we can help the club sell more tickets — and reaching semi-finals and finals would also help the club. But I can’t lie — it is a worrying time and, as players, we are desperate to do our little bit to help this club survive — and to push it on to bigger and better things in future.’
Hearts have vowed to robustly defend the tax claim, relating to an ongoing dispute between the club and HMRC over players loaned to Tynecastle by Lithuanian club FBK Kaunas — then controlled by Romanov — during the past seven years.
Tough times: Manager John McGlynn is working under a transfer embargo
In the brochure explaining the share issue, Hearts spoke of a ‘dramatically negative impact on the company’ if they lose the case, while admitting that Romanov could call in his 24m debt and leave the club to be liquidated next summer.
Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas claimed administration is ‘not on the agenda’ but admitted the Tynecastle club are facing huge challenges.
‘Financially, the situation is quite serious,’ he said.
‘We are really hopeful that this club will be successful and will prosper; and administration is the wrong word, I would say.
‘The share issue is a signal and an alarm to the people who are truly concerned about the club.’
Fedotovas also confirmed Hearts were taken aback by the HMRC tax demand and added: ‘It is a surprise. I believe that this is an unprecedented thing.
Up in the air: Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov's future plans are unclear
‘We faced questions in 2008 and it was very distant, and we really had no idea what it was about and what relation it has to the club.
‘Obviously, it’s now in very developed stages and this is something that we are looking to defend.
‘The players who were here on loan — most of them were Lithuanian — have some extra earnings in their home country and the case is related towards that, towards those earnings.
‘Whether that needs to be taxed or not is what the case is all about.
‘As far as the club is concerned, we have paid all the tax according to their contracts here in Scotland and we believe the position of Hearts is covered by this.
‘We’ve produced all the necessary returns to HMRC and supplied all the necessary information.
‘I believe there are a few possibilities (if Hearts need to pay the amount) and we’re actively discussing this at the moment.’