Troubled Hearts reject takeover offer

Hearts have until December 3 pay a £450,000 tax bill

Troubled Hearts have rejected a takeover offer from the former owner of Livingston, believing Italian businessman Angelo Massone “may not be the right person to take the club forward”.

Despite repelling Massone's approach, majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov is prepared to discuss selling Hearts after first investing in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League club in 2005.

A statement on Hearts' official website, http://www.heartsfc.co.uk, read: "Heart of Midlothian FC can today reveal that it has rejected a bid from businessman Angelo Massone to buy the club.

"The offer was received last week but the board feels the Italian may not be the right person to take the club forward."

Massone had a controversial 12-month spell in charge at Livingston from June 2008, which saw the West Lothian club placed into administration and subsequently expelled from the Scottish Football League's First Division to the bottom tier.

Hearts made reference to his previous involvement with Livingston in announcing his bid, reportedly worth £4.5million, had been rejected.

A Hearts spokesperson said: "We received an offer from Mr Massone but it has been rejected.

"We are aware of Mr Massone's previous involvement in the game in Scotland and the board has decided not to pursue his offer any further.

"In the view of the board, the bid he made also undervalued the club.

"Vladimir Romanov remains willing to discuss the sale of Hearts to anyone with a genuine interest, and ability, to take the club forward.

"Bidders will need to provide a financial offer to reflect the value of the club, be fit to run it as required by the Scottish FA and disclose their plans going forward.

"They will also have to provide guarantees for Hearts' future to ensure the successful duration of the business of the club."

It was the second disclosed offer for the William Hill Scottish Cup winners in the last week.

Last week Hearts rejected an offer from the Foundation of Hearts, whose aim is supporter ownership, on the same day a deal was reached to extend the deadline of a £450,000 tax payment to avoid a winding-up order, with many players and staff deferring their wages to reduce short-term costs.

Hearts have until December 3 to make the payment in two parts.

Prior to the extension being granted it had been feared last Saturday's 1-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Mirren could be Hearts' last after 138 years.

Supporters have responded to a call to arms, backing the club with their attendance and their money in an effort to keep it alive.

The winding-up order is one of numerous financial problems at Hearts, who have hailed the response of fans to a share issue scheme designed to raise £1.79m.

That brochure for the share issue scheme also revealed another £1.75m tax dispute with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

PA

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