By Cara Sulieman
HEARTS FC could become the next big name football club to face the receivers after being taken to court by the tax man.
The action could force them into administration if the Tynecastle club don’t pay their bill in time and sees then face a 10-point deduction from the Scottish Premier League, a penalty that was metered out to Gretna FC last year.
The Court of Session confirmed that a petition had been lodged but said that no dates had been set.
A spokesman for HMRC said: “A warrant has been served to the Court of Session on Hearts Football Club.”
But officials wouldn’t say how much was owed, but said that the action was a “last resort”.
A spokesman for the club said: “We are meeting the agreed payment schedule with HMRC.
“Perhaps HMRC does not trust football clubs as most of them have outstanding payments to the tax authorities these days and they have taken a precaution to place a petition in case we do not perform. The payment will be on time as agreed.”
“To the wire”
But George Foulkes, MSP for the Lothians and a former Hearts chairman, said that it was all a bit too close for comfort and that club owner Vladimir Romanov and his colleagues were playing a dangerous game.
He said: “I think Mr Romanov and his colleagues have taken things to the wire before as far as paying the bulls are concerned.
“So far the club has survived, but it’s certainly not good for the nerves. Everybody just crosses their fingers and hopes it goes away.”
When the club announced its accounts earlier this year, they had reduced the debt from £36.25 million to £30.48 million thanks to the sale of players such as Craig Gordon and Roman Bednar.
Derek Watson, chairman of the Hearts Supporters Club, said fans would be relaxed over the latest move.
He said: “For many years Hearts under different regimes have always paid bills at the last minute and I think most people know that, so it would have to go a bit further before people got worried – they’re used to it by now.”
Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas admitted the club was “surprised” by the taxman’s tactics.
He said: “Hearts has been informed of the petition that has been raised and that came as a surprise as the club has a payment schedule in place with HMRC and this will be met in full and to the agreed timescales.
“The funds are available and sufficient to meet the obligations.
“We have made excellent progress recently as a club in cutting our costs and reducing our debt while delivering a winning team on-field.
“This will continue to be the case and with continued effective investment we are confident in our future direction.”