Scottish Premier League

Fans' group: Hearts are worthless

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Sat, 15 Jun 2013 08:59:00

A hat-trick by Lionel Messi fired Argentina to an easy 4-0 friendly win in Guatemala on Friday.

Messi played for 67 minutes, opening the scoring 13 minutes in the game.

Augusto Fernandez made it 2-0 and then Barcelona star Messi scored from the penalty spot before completing his hat-trick after the break.

Messi and Sergio Aguero were the only usual starters that played from the beginning of the match but Argentina still dominated.

Argentina created chances from the start with Ezequiel Lavezzi, Aguero and Messi all going close before the latter netted his first with a shot from outside the box.

Guatemala showed little ambition in a game which looked a lot like a training session, Fernandez doubling the advantage in the 34th minute with a header.

Five minutes later Messi was fouled in the box and he made the hosts pay from the spot with his second goal.

For the second half coach Alejandro Sabella brought on Roma's Erik Lamela for his debut as Aguero was withdrawn.

Two minutes after the break a fine team move ended when Lavezzi crossed for Messi to complete the scoring.

The crowd spent much of the second half calling on the Argentina players to pass to Messi and the game went flat when he was substituted.

Guatemala's only chance came in injury time with a shot from long range.

The Tynecastle club were hit on Friday with an immediate transfer embargo by the Scottish Premier League after admitting they could not afford to pay their players.

The news came just 24 hours after the Gorgie board released a statement saying they had entered a "critical" stage in their battle to pay off debts of ?25million as well as financing tax and running costs.

The entire Jambos squad was put up for sale in a desperate bid to raise the reported ?500,000 needed to see the club through to the start of the new season.

Politician Ian Murray is leading the 'Foundation of Hearts' supporters' group who hope to buy the club.

But the Labour man admits the current situation at UBIG - which owns a 50 per cent stake in the club - and 29.9 per cent shareholder Ukio Bankas has "muddied the waters".

Both firms were formerly controlled by club Vladimir Romanov but are now in the midst of being declared insolvent by Kaunas-based authorities.

Ukio Bankas - which lost an appeal against liquidation on Wednesday - is due ?15million by Hearts, who also owe another ?10million to UBIG.

But Murray, who addressed 300 fans at Tynecastle meeting last night, insists the desperate nature of Hearts and their Lithuanian owners' balance sheets could work in his group's favour.

The FoH have already signed up more than 4,000 fans pledging between ?10 and ?100 a month to back their effort and hope to lodge an offer by the end of June.

Murray told Press Association Sport: "Given Thursday's statement and the club accounts, it's quite clear there is an on-going annual funding gap at the club that is quite substantial.

"That obviously has an effect on what the club is worth and I would go as far to ask whether the club is worth anything?

"From a hard-nosed business outlook, the club only has value in terms of its history, its share in the SPL and the assets that it holds.

"But given the funding gap it is only really worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

"From a FoH point of view, though, we are in a better shape than we have ever been.

"We have more than 4,000 fans pledging cash to us and we are ready to go."

Hearts were already the subject of a transfer embargo after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs were forced to launch legal action over an unpaid ?100,000 tax bill.

The majority of that sum has now been paid but the club continue to struggle with cash flow, leading to yesterday's announcement by the SPL that "a number" of first-team figures were not paid on time.

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