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Jackson will fly to Lithuania to avert 'liquidation possibility'

BRYAN JACKSON, the Hearts administrator, is to meet with the Lithuanian ambassador in London later this week before flying out to the country to try to secure the future of the Tynecastle club.

The postponement of Lithuanian-based talks and the subsequent lack of clarity coming from the Baltic state has also led the Foundation of Hearts chairman Ian Murray to admit that "liquidation is a possibility".

Jackson, of insolvency firm BDO, is expected to speak to Her Excellency Asta Skaisgiryte Liauskiene in London on Friday ahead of next Monday's potentially pivotal meeting of the creditors of both Ukio Bankas and UBIG. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) worth £2.5m was secured with Ukio in November, while a separate deal to secure the near 50% shareholding of UBIG for a five-figure sum was also agreed.

However, the green light to proceed with the transfer of ownership of Hearts to Ann Budge's BIDCO, which is expected to pass the club on to fans' group Foundation of Hearts (FoH) within five years, was not granted at a meeting of Ukio creditors on Friday and has been postponed until Monday, April 7, when UBIG's creditors will also convene.

Attempts by BDO to discuss the nature of 'technical issues' that may have been behind Friday's delay and to smooth out concerns that Sauliu Bank, a creditor of UBIG, may have with the purchase price have largely been unsuccessful.

With BDO's funding due to run out at the end of this month, and a 20-day appeal period to follow Monday's meeting, the delays have prompted Jackson to seek high-level political help that includes the British ambassador to Lithuania, David Hunt.

A 'plan B' for the club, which would involve a move to launch a Newco similar to Rangers, resulting in Hearts dropping into the bottom tier of Scottish football, has not yet been developed but figures close to the negotiations have confessed it may have to be seriously considered if there are further postponements.

"If the April 7 meeting either doesn't take place or isn't very positive, then I think everyone has known for some time that liquidation is a possibility," said Murray. "We are all worried. We want to get this over the line. It's been going on too long now and the information coming out of Lithuania is inconsistent or incomplete. We just have to wait out this process. There is nothing we can do about it. The pressure is on them [UBIG's administrators] to get this deal done. A liquidation event gives them nothing. The deal has been on the table for nearly eight months."

Lord George Foulkes, the former Hearts chairman, has used his political influence to enlist the help of Hunt on the club's behalf and yesterday expressed his own concerns at the delays and lack of information.

"It's 10 months since Hearts entered administration and that's a long time," he said. "The fans are very anxious at the delay, very nervous about it. We've got to sort things out and get things moving. It's not clear what is holding this up. That's why it's important that the Hearts administrator is out there to speak to people face to face and find out what the issue is."

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