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SBD Global/June 13, 2013/Franchises
Lithuanian Bank Ukio Bankas To Keep SPL Side Heart Of Midlothian Running
Published June 13, 2013
Ukio Bankas administator Gintaras Adomonis said he has "no reason or desire to harm" Scottish Premier League side Heart of Midlothian after a court in Lithuania upheld a decision to liquidate the bank, according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The company -- formerly controlled by Jambos Owner Vladimir Romanov -- "is set to go bust following the decision by judges in Kaunas at the Court of Appeal of Lithuania." Adomonis on Wednesday insisted that "he intends to keep Hearts running as a going concern before selling it on." Adomonis: "Hearts of Midlothian Plc is one of the companies indebted to the bank. There are several possible alternatives to dealing with this case but our initial assessment indicates that most likely the most extensive return for Ukio Bankas creditors may be achieved by keeping the club operating." Adomonis' statement "will come as a welcome boost to the troubled Edinburgh club, which still has the threat of a winding-up order hanging over its head" after U.K. tax authority HMRC threatened action over an unpaid £100,000 ($156,000) tax bill (DAILY RECORD, 6/12). In Edinburgh, Barry Anderson wrote Hearts "have reduced their wage bill" by more than £3M ($4.7M) over the last 12 months, with annual salary costs as low as £1.5M ($2.3M) ahead of next season. Only 26 players "are on the club's books following a cull of high earners which has cut wages to their lowest level since the Chris Robinson era." The Edinburgh club's salary-to-turnover ratio fell below 100% "for the first time under Romanov in the annual accounts for the year" to June 30, 2012. A "further drop during the 12 months since then" sees Hearts heading toward a target of 65% wages to turnover. The cuts "are vital to make the club more attractive to buyers." Foundation of Hearts and a Scandinavian consortium want to gain control, "with an unnamed American group also interested." However, Hearts' financial state "remains perilous" due to combined debt of £25M ($39M) and a predicted funding shortfall of around £2M ($3.1M) over the next 12 months (SCOTSMAN, 6/12).