Insolvent Scottish football club Hearts of Midlothian has taken a step towards exiting administration.
Parent company UBIG has agreed to transfer its 78.97% stake in the club to fans, after administrators from BDO reached an agreement with the Balkan investment bank.
Should the proposal be confirmed at a UBIG meeting of creditors in March, BDO will begin to hand over control of the club to fan group Foundation of Hearts (FoH).
Bryan Jackson, joint administrator of Hearts and a business restructuring partner with BDO, explained: “This is welcome news for the club as it means that the transfer of ownership can go ahead.
“While there remain some technical issues to resolve, the process is now gaining some momentum.
“For all of those involved with Hearts, on and off the pitch and on the terraces, it has been a very difficult period and their assistance and support has been greatly appreciated.”
A CVA deal was agreed in December 2013, after FoH won the bid to obtain majority shareholding of the club.
Hearts entered administration in June 2013 with debts of £25m, £10m of which was owed to UBIG – which has since also filed for insolvency.
A statement from the administrators said the transfer of the club to the fans can begin “with a timescale of eight to ten weeks for completion of the sale and purchase agreement subject to the deal being ratified through the Lithuanian courts and/or creditors.”
FoH chairman and Scottish MP Ian Murray said: “We are edging closer to getting the club out of administration and we are now talking about when rather than if.
“This is a very significant hurdle overcome and we are delighted, but more work is required.”