THE Scottish Premier League was last night taking legal advice following news that Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe (UGIB), Hearts' parent company, had declared itself insolvent.

The Lithuanian investment firm, which is thought to own a 79% stake in the Tynecastle club, was yesterday placed by that country's Department of Enterprise Bankruptcy Management on a list of companies "unable or unwilling to meet their obligations".

That announcement prompted the SPL to launch an investigation into the relationship between UBIG and Hearts to ascertain whether there may have been a breach of section A6.12 of their rulebook that applies to "any Group Undertaking [linked to a club] . . . suffering or being subject to an Insolvency Event and/or an Insolvency Process".

Should the SPL decide that to be the case before this weekend – and a Lithuanian court formalises UBIG's claim for insolvency – then Hearts could be docked 18 points, a reduction that would lead to them being relegated to the first division.

If a decision is not reached before Sunday, the last day of the 2012/13 SPL season, then the Edinburgh club could instead start the new season minus a third of their total points tally for this season.

Sergejus Fedotovas, the Hearts director and a former UBIG board member, confirmed the news about UBIG and a club statement added: "Heart of Midlothian Football Club can today acknowledge it is aware of a report circulating in Lithuania relating to its parent company Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe [UBIG]. The club is seeking clarification regarding UBIG's current situation and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Hearts owe in the region of £10m to UBIG, whose shares are currently frozen, and a further £15m to Ukio Bankas, UBIG's sister company that was closed by Lithuania's central bank in February with debts of £380m. The bank is currently appealing against a bankruptcy order. Both companies were controlled by Vladimir Romanov although he and the rest of the directors, including Fedotovas, stepped down from the UBIG board in March.

Neil Patey, a football finance expert with Ernst and Young, believes there is now a real chance that Hearts could enter administration. "It is not inevitable that Hearts will also enter administration, but it is a strong possibility," he said.

"There is a chance that the administrator in Lithuania could sell the shares without placing the club into administration but, equally, depending on how those in Lithuania choose to proceed, there is a real possibility that Hearts themselves will go into administration in the coming months.

"I don't think there will necessarily be any immediate effect, but all these steps are part of the inevitable procession towards the ultimate disposal of Hearts, either as a going concern or via administration at some point in the medium-term future.

"These processes can take a long time, but it is inevitable that Hearts, the asset, has to be sold. The big question is whether that can be done as a going concern or whether it is broken up and sold by an administrator – which is the doomsday scenario."

An alliance of seven Hearts supporters groups, led by Ian Murray MP, is attempting to purchase the club and Patey is hopeful recent events may actually help rather than hinder their cause. "Overall, the developments in the last few weeks could be considered a net positive," he added. "That would certainly be the hope. Ultimately, we now know that Hearts are going to be sold. A Lithuanian administrator is going to get control of the assets one way or another and they will want to sell them. Romanov was talking about selling the club for silly money. Now the club will clearly be for sale at a relatively fair value."

Gary Locke, the Hearts manager, admitted everyone at Hearts` would be "glad to see the back of this season" and revealed he may contact Ally McCoist for advice on how to deal with a club in financial crisis given Rangers' off-field travails in recent years.

"I could be spending a bit of time with Ally in the summer – maybe phoning him for advice," said Locke. "Hopefully that is not the case, because the club are certainly moving in the right direction in terms of wages. We are now in a period where the wages the players are earning at the club are sustainable. Off the pitch, there is a lot of work getting done behind the scenes. It would be a nightmare if we went into administration and started next season with a points deficit.

"Hopefully in the summer the club can sort itself out. It would be great for us if that gets resolved. What happens off the pitch is not a great deal to do with myself. I hope I have a busy summer and that it is spent trying to get players into the club."

Locke, indeed, faces a substantial rebuilding process assuming Hearts retain their SPL status and, as expected, transfer restrictions are lifted and they can sign players over the age of 21 from July 1. Darren Barr, Gordon Smith, Danny Grainger, Denis Prychynenko and, it appears, Marius Zaliukas are on the way out while uncertainty persists over the future of Andy Webster, acting captain of the club, although Locke has confirmed the Scotland defender is in talks with John Murray, the director of football, regarding a contract extension.

It means Saturday's trip to Aberdeen could be an emotional one, with several more of those involved in the 5-1 Scottish Cup win over Hibs last year saying goodbye.

Locke, however, made light of Zaliukas' plea this week for a late cameo against Aberdeen, insisting the outgoing captain will only play if he is fit to contribute at Pittodrie.

"I had a laugh at Zaliukas' quotes about playing for two minutes on Saturday because it might be his last game for Hearts. Players have got to be fit. He has had a long time out and only trained for a week. If you'd have seen him training you would know why I didn't play him last week against Hibs.

"Marius is a great lad and infectious character who will come into my thoughts for Pittodrie. If he does go, he deserves to see the fans for one last time. Like Marius, most of the foreign lads who have played here regard this as home."