ANGELO MASSONE has revealed he will not be deterred in his efforts to buy Hearts despite the Edinburgh club yesterday dismissing his initial offer.
The former Livingston owner is part of an Italian consortium that last week bid £4.5m for Vladimir Romanov's majority shareholding. The offer has been rejected by Hearts, who feel Massone "may not be the right person to take the club forward", while adding "the bid he made also undervalued the club".
That came as a surprise to Massone, who said it would not represent the end of his interest. The Rome-based lawyer will seek to contact Romanov to ascertain what the Lithuanian-based owner feels his share is worth, and called upon supporters to engage with him.
Alex Mackie, chairman of the Foundation of Hearts group hoping to provide a vehicle for fan ownership, had ruled out working with Massone but the Italian hoped he would reconsider.
"I made, what I felt, was a really good offer to Mr Romanov at this stage," he told Herald Sport. "The club is being threatened with liquidation so we offered an unbelievable amount of money from my point of view. I want to help Hearts and I want to help Scottish football. I am still positive, though, and believe in this project so I will keep trying.
"I will ask to speak directly with Mr Romanov to see what he is thinking. Will we offer more money? Well, that depends on many conditions. But I won't offer any more if I don't first have the backing of the supporters. I saw that the people from the Foundation of Hearts don't want to work with me but I need to speak to Mr Mackie to show him the project. I am surprised by his position as we are both trying to achieve the same thing. My consortium will never get involved with Scottish football if we do not have the trust of the supporters. If Mr Romanov changed his mind and decided he will take the £4.5m then he will not get it if we don't first have an agreement with the supporters. This is a really important point.
"I want to buy the club then gift part of it to the supporters for free. The benefit to me would be that I can have a bonus if Hearts does well in the league, or something like this. I want to create a democratic board like a Supporters Trust and at the end of the agreement – whether it is three, five or seven years – then the whole club will go to them. I have connections in many places so I could bring some really good players to Hearts, I could develop the academy, and offer many things. I just want the chance to show the supporters my project as it is impossible without them."
Massone's brief tenure at Livingston was beset by controversy and ended with the club in administration and subsequently demoted to the third division. He believes that episode is an unfair reflection of his capabilities and hoped that Hearts fans' views would not be clouded by it.
"I don't want to keep on speaking about the past, all this negativity," he added. "These are two separate things. In Livingston it was just me at the end, but this time I am speaking for a group of investors who are totally different from what happened at Livingston. This is a new project and I hope the Hearts supporters can see that. I understand it is impossible for me to come back into Scottish football without their trust."
Hearts, though, seem reluctant to deal further with Massone. The statement read: "We received an offer from Mr Massone but it has been rejected. We are aware of Mr Massone's previous involvement in the game in Scotland and the Board has decided not to pursue his offer any further.
"In the view of the Board, the bid he made also undervalued the club. Vladimir Romanov remains willing to discuss the sale of Hearts to anyone with a genuine interest, and ability, to take the club forward. Bidders will need to provide a financial offer to reflect the value of the club, be fit to run it as required by the Scottish FA and disclose their plans going forward. They will also have to provide guarantees for Hearts' future to ensure the successful duration of the business of the club."