LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish Cup holders Hearts can be saved, a director said on Thursday, after the Edinburgh club issued an appeal to supporters for emergency financial backing.
"I don't believe that this is the end of Hearts. I am confident a solution will be found," Sergejus Fedotovas told STV after arriving in Edinburgh to try to broker a rescue for the Scottish Premier League (SPL) club.
Money has long been tight in Scottish soccer and Rangers, champions a record 54 times, were demoted to the fourth tier this year after collapsing under the weight of their debts.
Hearts, founded in 1874, warned that they could go out of business this month after being issued with a winding-up order over a tax bill for almost 450,000 pounds.
The club, owned by Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov, are urging fans to support a share issue that aims to raise 1.795 million pounds and to ensure the club's Tynecastle stadium is sold out for forthcoming games.
Tynecastle has a capacity of just over 17,000. Hearts have average attendances of around 12,000 - modest by most standards but the third highest in Scotland where Glasgow rivals Celtic and Rangers have long been dominant.
Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday in what is being described as the greatest night for the club since they won the European Cup in 1967.
That was a rare bright spot for the game in Scotland.
One in five clubs in the top three divisions are showing signs of financial distress, according to a survey released on Thursday by business rescue and restructuring specialists Begbies Traynor.
"The relegation of Rangers has had some impact but lower attendances and falling revenues, especially reducing TV money, has given rise to the distress that has spread across the SPL and divisions one and two," said Ken Pattullo of Begbies Traynor in Scotland.
(Writing by Keith Weir, Editing by Clare Fallon)