Hearts issue dire warning
Hearts have warned fans the club might not survive until the end of the month after being hit with a winding-up order over a tax bill of almost £450,000.
The Clydesdale Bank Premier League club issued a plea for "emergency backing" after confirming action by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Hearts said they were attempting to negotiate a payment plan with the tax authority over the matter, which is unrelated to a £1.75million HMRC bill the club are challenging at a tax tribunal. Hearts urged supporters to buy tickets for forthcoming home matches and invest in a recently-launched share issue.
The board statement added: "Without the support of fans there is, as we issue this note, a real risk that Heart of Midlothian Football Club could possibly play its last game next Saturday, 17 November, against St Mirren. This isn't a bluff, this isn't scaremongering, this is reality."
New SPL rules introduced in the summer would see Hearts face a more stringent punishment than the previous automatic 10-point penalty if they are forced into administration.
The rules state Hearts would be deducted a third of their previous season's tally, rounded up to the nearest whole number. Hearts finished on 52 points last season, which could mean an 18-point deduction in the coming weeks. It was court action by HMRC that forced Rangers into administration in February.
Hearts earlier said they were "endeavouring to agree a suitable payment plan with HMRC for the outstanding amount of £449,692.04" and that the petition had only recently been presented.
A club spokesperson added: "We have guaranteed future revenues from forthcoming games and related broadcast income as well as additional guaranteed transfer income which will more than cover the outstanding amount stated in this petition. We would therefore be hopeful that HMRC will accept that winding up the club would be totally unnecessary."
The Scottish Government pledged to help Hearts find their way through the crisis. A spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government stands ready to assist in any way it can, including making contact with HMRC if necessary.
"It is in everyone's interests to find a solution which ensures that Hearts can continue in business while also meeting their obligations to the tax authorities."