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Hearts' liquidation a new low game must avoid

HEARTS going bust and having to work their way back up from the bottom tier is a scenario which no-one concerned with the welfare of Scottish football should want to see.

The pain of relegation shows on the faces of the players but a worse fate could yet await HeartsPhotograph: SNS
The pain of relegation shows on the faces of the players but a worse fate could yet await HeartsPhotograph: SNS

But if events in Lithuania tomorrow lead to liquidation then that is the way it has to be. A precedent was set with Rangers and the authorities would have to apply the same rule to if the Tynecastle club go the same way.

I'm sure we all hope it doesn't come to that, and that Hearts can exit administration via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with their creditors. But while there are similarities with the Rangers situation, at least they went into liquidation when the season had finished. If it were to happen to Hearts at this point in the campaign the timing would be unprecedented and cause a whole raft of other problems.

I don't know exactly what it would mean for St Mirren, Partick Thistle Ross County in the battle to avoid the play-off place, but every club is looking over their shoulder now to see what happens.

Some people already regard Scottish football as a laughing stock but one of our clubs going bust mid-season would be a new low. It is incumbent on the league to try to do anything they can to stop it happening, but I do feel for the SPFL. It is their first season in this guise and already they are having to look at bailing teams out. But for respectability in the eyes of the football world, it is in their best interest to ensure Hearts see out the season.

Hearts fans deserve a break. After the high of beating Hibernian in the derby - that would have been like a dagger through the heart on the way down - the story broke that liquidated was a possibility. I can understand why the creditors are stalling as £2.5 million seems like a drop in the ocean for all the debt built up during the Vladimir Romanov era. Everybody knew it was going to come to a horrible end game and that is what has happened.

I could end up with egg on my face but my gut instinct is that administrators Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch at BDO still think they will get the CVA through. Bryan is an expert at brinksmanship - I know the way he plays it. While I have said before that I don't like the man and I didn't like the scenario that unfolded at Dundee, he has shown in the past that he can save clubs.

It would be a real dent to his ego if the doomsday scenario did unfold at Hearts, but knowing him he will get them through it.

Sometimes you can have supporters running a club who are naive and do the wrong things, but Ann Budge genuinely cares for Hearts and wants the best for them, and that is a good starting point.

Whether they start next season in the bottom tier or just the Championship after they were officially relegated yesterday, Hearts will find it more difficult to get back to the top league than Rangers just because of the disparity in resources.

Rangers have overspent hugely in an attempt to return as quickly as possible and I don't know if Hearts would go down that route. But I still expect them to get there. Tynecastle boasts the best atmosphere outwith Ibrox or Parkhead and matches there will be much missed from the Premiership fixture list.

IRONICALLY, Hibs might be a beneficiary if all Hearts' previous results are expunged, but there isn't too much other good news coming out of Easter Road right now. They are on such a poor run of form that in my opinion they are right in the mix for that play-off place - another big club in serious danger of being lost to the top flight.

Instead of looking over their shoulders all the time at Hearts, they have to worry about themselves and earn the right to stay in the top division next season. But they have not shown anything at all in the last few weeks. They don't even look like drawing a game right now.

The way I look at is this: the Hibs players had a chance to show that it had been their manager who was the problem when Terry Butcher replaced Pat Fenlon. But they are getting worse results now, so it can't be the manager - it must the players.

They are the common denominator here. Some of these players lost Colin Calderwood his job, then lost Pat Fenlon his job. If results don't pick up they will lose Terry Butcher his job too.

I FULLY expect Rangers to win the Ramsdens Cup today, but I don't think they will romp it. You can say what you like about this tournament but tickets for the final are like gold dust and that speaks for itself.

For all the negativity surrounding Rangers during the last few years, it is a chance to add silverware en route to getting back to where they want to be. Raith Rovers are a well-organised team and are hard to beat - you saw that when they beat Hibs in the Scottish Cup, and gave St Johnstone a decent game.

Rangers fans are buying into the final, with a huge support travelling to Easter Road expecting them to win, but they aren't under as much pressure as Aberdeen were before ending their 19-year trophy drought last month. It would be a huge dent to Rangers if they were to lose but I can't see that happening.

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