x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hearts buy more time in bid to repay tax and avoid liquidation

The Edinburgh club have been given more time to pay a Dh2.6m tax bill in a bid to avoid following in the footsteps of Rangers, following the Glasgow club's collapse last summer.

Hearts winger Andrew Driver challenges Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew
Hearts winger Andrew Driver challenges Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew

Scottish Cup holders Hearts have avoided an immediate threat of liquidation after agreeing a deal over an outstanding £450,000 (Dh2.6m) tax debt.

The Edinburgh-based club, currently 10th in the Scottish Premier League faced becoming the second high profile Scots side this year to go out of business over outstanding debts.

But the club, which rejected a takeover bid yesterday, has agreed an extension with tax officers, giving the club another three weeks to pay the outstanding sum.

Senior Hearts players are to defer their salaries for November to keep the struggling club - owned by Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov - afloat.

"An extension with HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) will allow the club further time to pay an outstanding tax bill and lifts the immediate threat facing the club," Hearts said in a statement.

"The agreement also ensures this weekend's game against St Mirren will not be the club's last and eases doubts over future fixtures at Tynecastle including games against Celtic on Nov. 28 and Aberdeen on Dec. 8."

Hearts said they had agreed to full and final settlement of the tax bill by Dec. 3.

"The decision was also made possible after the understanding of a number of senior first-team squad members who offered to defer their November salaries to a later date," the Edinburgh club added.

"Make no mistake the fans and players have been instrumental in achieving this extension with HMRC. The supporters' efforts have been quite phenomenal."

Hearts, who have total debts of £24 million (Dh140m), made an appeal last week for emergency financial help from fans, asking them to back a share issue and buy tickets for matches to help keep the club going.

Supporters are looking to prevent the club from following in the footsteps of Rangers, after the Glasgow side was forced to restart from the lowest tier in Scottish football following outstanding debts - including unpaid tax - of more than £94m

At the weekend Hearts rejected a £500,000 offer from Rangers for early settlement of an £800,000 debt over player transfers.