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Hearts safe for now as SPL rule UBIG not in insolvency

Hearts have avoided instant relegation after the Scottish Premier League board decided the financial problems of their majority shareholder had not breached its rules before the end of the season.

UBIG was apparently declared insolvent on a Lithuanian government website on Thursday, prompting fears at Hearts that they could be hit with an 18-point penalty which would immediately send them down.

But following talks at Hampden today, a league statement read: "The SPL board met today to consider reports from Lithuania in respect of Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe (UBIG).

"The board are not satisfied, on the basis of information currently available to it, that an insolvency event (as defined by SPL rules) occurred in respect of UBIG during season 2012-2013."

UBIG was listed on a Lithuanian government website of insolvent firms on Thursday after reportedly declaring itself unable to meet its liabilities.

The firm owns about four-fifths of shares in Hearts, and SPL rules can lead to points deductions if an owner suffers an insolvency event.

The SPL had been consulting with its lawyers over whether UBIG's situation breaches its rules. Issues under discussion included whether UBIG had officially suffered an insolvency event in the Lithuanian courts. There is no evidence that has happened.

Hearts could still face action if the situation develops in Lithuania but the points deduction would take effect next season unless new information emerges about what happened last week, which appears highly unlikely.

SPL chairman Ralph Topping said: "We acted on the information that was available to us.

"That's not to say that other information will not come forward in the next few days or weeks ahead but we can only deal with what we have got at the moment and on that basis there is no insolvency event under our rules.

"We will need to see what develops on this situation, if indeed anything develops.

"You can appreciate the issues that are involved. We are dealing with Lithuania, we are dealing with Lithuanian law, we are dealing with interpretation of what's happened over there, and looking at it from the perspective of our rules.

"It's good news at the moment. With everything in Scottish football, there is temporary respite."

Clubs are docked a third of their previous season's tally, which in Hearts' case would be 15 for next term.

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