It had been expected that a court in Lithuania would yesterday appoint bankruptcy administrators to the club's former parent company, a move necessary for any future takeover and which has already been held up twice by protracted legal processes. However, a spokesperson for Kaunas District Court confirmed the meeting to map out the future of the investment company had been held up.
Hearts' joint administrator, Bryan Jackson, of insolvency experts BDO, last night conceded that the problems were frustrating, especially as he has been told the outcome could take another 30 days to be announced, but insisted that it did not 'derail' their plans to build a rescue package.
"I'm trying to get into the habit of expecting the unexpected but, with the case having been postponed twice already, I really thought it would go ahead this time," Jackson said. "It was undoubtedly disappointing to hear of another delay. We have also been told that even when the case does go ahead it can take anything up to 30 days before we are advised of the decision. But it does not derail anything, it does not change anything particularly, it is just frustrating."
Earlier this week, Jackson was cheered by word from the club's main creditor, Ukio Bankas - who are owed £15.5m and hold Tynecastle as security against their debt - to press on with putting together a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in conjunction with preferred bidders Foundation of Hearts (FoH). That was hailed as a significant milestone by Ian Murray, chairman of FoH, and it was anticipated that another major step forward would be achieved yesterday.
BDO and the FoH require UBIG's administrators, when appointed, to join their counterparts working at Ukio Bankas in agreeing to the CVA process. And the administrators for UBIG, who are owed just over £8m of Hearts' £28.5m debt, would be pivotal to that CVA achieving the necessary 75% support of creditors, based on the value of debts owed.
However, despite the frustration of another minor delay in Lithuania, Jackson has reassured fans BDO and FoH will continue working towards a deal they hope will eventually bring the club out of administration. He added: "The delay is only really two working days so we will still be proceeding with the documentation to get a CVA organised. One of the reasons we made the announcement on that this week was that we didn't want to wait for this court case. But there is no doubt that UBIG will hold the key."
Such troubles make the boardroom strife surrounding Saturday's hosts Kilmarnock seem small, but the fans of the Rugby Park club remain set on challenging the way that the Ayrshire outfit are run. Mirroring moves made in recent times by both Hearts and Dunfermline Athletic, fans groups and local business organisations have agreed to work together in a bid to oust chairman Michael Johnston.
Representatives from seven bodies will form a working group to explore community ownership with the help of Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS). The Killie Trust and Kilmarnock FC Supporters Association will join with youth and disabled fans' group, as well as minority shareholders, the Business Club, and a group of Ayrshire business people called the Kilmarnock Futures Consortium.
Paul Goodwin, the head of SDS, said: "What we know is that the combined power of all groups with a shared interest can make significant progress towards fans and the community ownership. The aim will be to put the Kilmarnock fans in the strongest possible position to respond quickly to the opportunity to buy their club if, and when, it comes around."