SPL board to discuss Hearts crisis
Celtic manager Neil Lennon may rest a number of players for
Sunday’s final game of the SPL season away to Dundee United as he
looks to keep his players fresh for the Scottish Cup final with
He also has injury problems to overcome, with defender Charlie
Mulgrew ruled out with a knee injury.
Right-back Adam Matthews is a major doubt as he is struggling
with a knock, while striker Lassad Nouioui remains on the sidelines
with a calf injury.
United striker Johnny Russell looks likely miss out as he is
still suffering from some stiffness having recently returned from a
Long-term absentees Gavin Gunning and Sean Dillon remain on the
But Keith Watson and Barry Douglas could feature at Tannadice
Park after injury to boost manager Jackie McNamara.
The SPL board will meet to determine whether Hearts should face
sanctions over the apparent financial collapse of their majority
The club could still face an 18-point deduction – and instant
relegation – if it is decided that SPL rules have been breached by
UBIG’s declaration of insolvency.
UBIG was on Thursday listed on a Lithuanian government website
of insolvent firms after reportedly declaring itself unable to meet
The firm owns about four-fifths of shares in Hearts and SPL
rules can lead to points deductions if an owner suffers an
The SPL has been consulting with its lawyers over its rules and
whether UBIG’s action breaches them.
The league has made no comment but it is understood the timing
of events will be crucial – if the developments of the last two
days are deemed to be an insolvency event which breaks the SPL
rules, then the punishment will be a points deduction this
However, court action is needed to trigger an insolvency event
in Scotland and the lack of news about any court proceedings in
Lithuania could work in Hearts’ favour.
The relationship between UBIG and Hearts will also come into
consideration. The club will argue that they have been
self-sufficient since early last year so have not benefited from
the funding of an insolvent company this season. However, they owe
UBIG about ?10million of their ?25million debt.
The cost-cutting measures continued at Tynecastle this week when
19-year-old right-back Fraser Mullen was told he would not be
offered a new contract in the summer despite making eight
appearances this season before a broken foot ended his season in
But Hearts midfielder Jason Holt insists his former youth-team
colleague will have no trouble picking up a new club.
He said: “It’s disappointing as Fraser is a good mate of mine.
We came through the youth team together but it’s not my decision,
that’s down to the club.
“I spoke to him the day he found out. It’s one of those ones
that he just needs time to take it in. He’s a good lad and I’m sure
he will not be short of offers.
“He’s a good player so I hope he does go on to bigger and better
things once he’s fit again from his injury.”
Holt and fellow Gorgie youngsters Callum Tapping, Jamie Walker
and Kevin McHattie have all made the most of the club’s financial
strains to grab first-team slots.
The club could yet put even more focus on their younger recruits
amid fresh concerns that developments in Lithuania could force the
club into administration.
But Holt knows such a crisis could yet open the door for other
youngsters, just as the 20-year-old found this term with 21
“Being a young boy growing up watching Hearts and going to the
games, it’s a dream now getting the chance to play for the team,”
“It’s been a massive season for us young lads coming through. We
knew that for a lot of us it would be a chance for us to make the
“I’ve managed to get a decent number of games under my belt.
Next season I’m looking to push on with a good pre-season under my
belt and make it a better one than my first.
“I’ve grown up a lot this year. Everyone will tell you that when
you move into first-team football that happens. You are dealing
with older people and the experience aspect comes into it. There is
a lot of pressure on your shoulders and you have to deal with
Hearts round off their season with a trip to Aberdeen tomorrow
but last week’s Edinburgh derby defeat to Hibs is still painfully
fresh in Holt’s mind.
Holt said: “Sunday’s defeat was a massive blow for me and
everyone at the club, the fans as well. The players know we weren’t
good enough and we will be looking to put the right next
“It felt worse than losing the cup final. Both were huge blows
but on Sunday it was an Edinburgh derby, both sets of fans were
there and we just didn’t perform well enough on the day. It’s
really disappointing because we let ourselves and the fans