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SBD Global/March 6, 2013/Franchises

Scottish Premier League Hearts Dismiss Talks Romanov Has Given Up Control Of Club

Heart of Midlothian Owner Vladimir Romanov is still in charge despite financial woes.
Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian's board said that it has no information that Owner Vladimir Romanov has "relinquished control of the club amid further problems with his business affairs in Lithuania," according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. It emerged Monday that Romanov had resigned from the board of the company which holds a majority stake in Hearts, UBIG, "following the collapse of Ukio Bankas." But Hearts Dir Sergejus Fedotovas, who also quit the UBIG board, "indicated that Romanov, who is not a Hearts director, was still in control." In a statement on the Hearts website, Fedotovas said: "Despite recent changes to the board at UBIG, the board structure at Heart of Midlothian remains unchanged" (DAILY RECORD, 3/5). The SCOTSMAN wrote Romanov owns a 16.9% stake in UBIG, which Fedotovas claims is "sufficient for him to remain in control of the Edinburgh club." Fedotovas "would not disclose" the reasons behind his or Romanov’s resignation from UBIG. He believes that the changes "will have minimal impact on Hearts," who owe UBIG more than £22M ($33M) in debt as of their last set of accounts. Fedotovas, when asked to explain the complex ownership structure at Hearts, said, “My understanding is Mr. Romanov has controlled Hearts through his shareholding in other companies." UBIG intend to appoint a new board of directors who "could have a say on Hearts’ future." Fedotovas was "coy on why he and Romanov stepped aside." He said, “I have resigned from UBIG according to my reasons. I cannot give an explanation why other people have resigned. These are my private reasons and I’m not prepared to share them” (SCOTSMAN, 3/5). STV reported Hearts staff has been told the club "could go into administration -- as they await news from Lithuania on the ownership situation at Tynecastle." Some employees "had a general briefing on the situation" at the club on Tuesday morning. Officials stated administration "was a possibility if the right assurances were not received from majority shareholders UBIG." Administration was mentioned "as one, but not the only, possible outcome" (STV, 3/5).
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