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SBD Global/November 19, 2012/Franchises

Heart Of Midlothian Owner Vladimir Romanov Denies Club's Cash Crisis

Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian Owner Vladimir Romanov "has finally broken his silence on the crisis at his stricken club" -- to deny it has financial problems, according to Lauren Crooks of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The 65-year-old tycoon, "who has not been seen in Edinburgh for months, denied the club has serious problems when the Sunday Mail caught up with him." Romanov said, "Hearts don’t have any financial problems for eight years already. Only journalists spread false stories about that." Romanov, who has a substantial stake in the Lithuanian Ukio Bank, "is also chairman of UBIG Investments -- the majority stakeholder in Hearts and Lithuanian basketball club Zalgaris." Romanov "flatly denied Hearts were in danger." He also refused to say "if he would answer fans' demands for him to come to Edinburgh" (DAILY RECORD, 11/l8). In Edinburgh, Moira Gordon reported Hearts "will have to be debt and liability free at the time of a handover," or the proposed fans' ownership plan simply will not work. Former Hearts player Steven Tweed said that "such laudable ambitions will not be met at Hearts." With the club debts amounting to more than £22M ($35M), Romanov "would need to write off the vast majority of the sums due, but his personal fortune is not considered sufficient to cover such an extravagance." While his UBIG investment vehicle "is already struggling to maintain its current share price and is therefore unlikely to sanction any such benevolence when it knows it would see the company’s value plummet further." It points to "something of a stalemate" (SCOTSMAN, 11/18).
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