LONDON (AFP) - Hearts have been threatened with liquidation as the takeover battle for the troubled Scottish Premier League football club drags on, less than a week before the start of the new season.
The administrator in charge of Ukio Bankas on Monday told Hearts administrators that three bids lodged for the Edinburgh team were unacceptable and warned that the club would be liquidated unless the offers are improved.
The Lithuanian bank is owed £15 million (S$26 million) by Hearts but its administrator Gintaras Adomonis issued the grave threat to BDO, the trouble-shooters now running the club, after they were also placed into administration.
"I can repeat that we are doing everything we can to save the club functioning. However, I am obliged to protect solely the interests of Ukio Bankas and its creditors," a statement from Adomonis said.
"If no feasible offer with terms and conditions acceptable to Ukio Bankas creditors is achieved, Ukio Bankas will remain with the only solution - liquidation of Hearts of Midlothian Plc and enforcement of the standard security over Tynecastle stadium.
"I sincerely hope this is the way of things we still can avoid."
Adomonis has told BDO to continue negotiation with fans' group the Foundation of Hearts and Five Stars Football Ltd.
A third offer placed by HMFC Ltd has been rejected outright.
Ukio Bankas holds a 29.9 per cent shareholding in Hearts and has a floating charge on Tynecastle as security against the money it is owed.
Meanwhile, Kaunas-based investment firm UBIG, which owns 50 per cent of the club, is owed a further £10 million by Hearts.
Both companies were once controlled by former Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov but are now insolvent.
Ukio Bankas is in the hands of administrators while the process of appointing trouble-shooters to oversee the liquidation of UBIG was launched last week.
Hearts are due to play St Johnstone in the first match of the season on Sunday, starting on minus 15 points under league rules for clubs in administration.