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Floating charge of £6.8m could weigh heavily on Hearts

Hearts' fragile financial position could be exacerbated by a £6.8m floating charge against the club as the fall-out from the Ukio Bankas collapse continues.

Sergejus Fedotovas insisted events in Lithuania would have little effect on Hearts
Sergejus Fedotovas insisted events in Lithuania would have little effect on Hearts

The charge, which is used to secure Tynecastle against debts, is now thought to be under the control of the Lithuanian authorities having initially been transferred from the club's parent company, UBIG, to owner Vladimir Romanov's bank last year.

With Ukio being recognised as insolvent, the country's central bank – the Bank of Lithuania – has appointed temporary administrator Adomas Audickas to oversee the transfer of the fallen bank's assets and liabilities to Siauliu Bankas.

While admitting Ukio Bankas does provide Hearts with "some banking services and debt facility" – they owe UBIG £22.4m according to the last set of accounts – club director Sergejus Fedotovas said last week that events in his homeland would have little impact on the "day-to-day business" at the club. But the bank that assumes control of the floating charge would have the power to call in the £6.8m debt at any time.

Neil Patey, a football finance expert at Ernst and Young, said: "The bulk of the debt is with UBIG, which is not in trouble, but we understand there are some banking and debt facilities provided by Ukio. My understanding is the security for Tynecastle was transferred from UBIG to Ukio. From what I understand, the assets and liabilities for Hearts will be transferred to another bank.

"I would think it is unlikely the new bank will call in an immediate repayment for the amount due from Hearts, but there is certainly the possibility that they could enter into discussions and may take a more stringent view than Ukio did in terms of wanting that debt repaid."

The former chairman George Foulkes, however, believes the uncertainty surrounding the charge could be "a good thing".

"It's now another bank that are making the decisions and they will do it on the basis of logic and what's in the best interest of their shareholders. That means they will want to see Hearts as a going concern. The ideal solution would be to find a new owner or owners for the club that are able to lease the stadium and pay the bank some reasonable rental for it. That would seem to me to be the way forward."

Dunfermline Athletic, meanwhile, have postponed today's scheduled launch of a share issue which aims to raise between £300,000 and £500,000. The club said "minor amendments" are required after liaising with lawyers and financial consultants.

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