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SBD Global/November 12, 2012/Franchises

SPL Club Heart Of Midlothian Turns Down 'Opportunistic' Offer From Rangers

Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian FC has turned down an offer from Scottish Third Division club Rangers that would have allowed the club to settle its outstanding tax bill, according to Michael Grant of the HERALD SCOTLAND. Rangers CEO Charles Green "proposed paying the Tynecastle club £500,000 ($795,000) to settle the remainder of what Rangers owe on the transfers of Lee Wallace and David Templeton." However, the actual amount still owed is £800,000 ($1.3M) and Hearts, which must find £450,000 ($716,000) to avoid a bid by U.K. tax authority HMCR to put them into liquidation, dismissed the offer as "opportunistic." Rangers "offered to pay early, but less, apparently in the hope that Hearts' grave financial predicament would force them to accept the reduced amount." Hearts' view was that they "could not be seen to be asking supporters to dig deep to save the club while simultaneously striking deals to write off £300,000 ($477,000)" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 11/11). In Glasgow, Gordon Waddell reported that Tynecastle chiefs in rage with cut-price offer. Hearts have "knocked back the offer and are understood to be seething at Green for trying to take advantage of their plight." Rangers boss Ally McCoist Saturday night insisted he knew nothing about the deal but said: "Anything that helps Hearts would be a great thing. They have been an integral part of Scottish football and we don’t want that to change" (DAILY RECORD, 11/11).

TAKEN TO HEART: In Edinburgh, Moira Gordon wrote that Hearts are confident that they "will be able to pay the £450,000 tax bill due by the close of play on Thursday." It will stave off the immediate threat of liquidation, but club Dir Sergejus Fedotovas has still launched a withering attack on HMRC, who he says have threatened the existence of the club and shown "no understanding at all." Suggesting it is trying to make a point at the expense of the capital club, which are also being chased for a further £1.75M ($2.78M), he said: "They will never tell us why they are doing this. Maybe they see Hearts as an easy example. Maybe they’re thinking 'OK, we’ll sacrifice a club to achieve something else, to show to other people.' It’s difficult to say because in my view there is no logic in this" (SCOTSMAN, 11/11).

PERSONAL STORIES: In London, John Simpson reported that 7-year-old Cal McCloy and his sister, Skye, 5, "donated their pocket money to save their team, joining a wave of selfless support" that has seen Hearts "buoyed with hope since the board put out a desperate plea for financial support on Wednesday." A massage implored fans to buy tickets and shares, and give cash to the club. It read: "This isn't a bluff, this isn't scaremongering; this is reality." Vladimir Romanov, the 98% shareholder in the club, "has been the target of much of the suspicion and anger, but for local businesses it is a matter of survival." Staff at the pub closest to the ground, The Diggers, feared that "they had ruin looming when, in '06, the Hearts Manager George Burley was fired." The Diggers Manager Kevin McGhee, and a Hibs fan who plans to buy shares in Hearts, said: "We weren’t sure then about Mr. Romanov, and we decided to diversify, so if the club went under we knew we would be alright" (LONDON TIMES, 11/11).
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