SPL charges Hearts over players' wages delay

The Scottish Premier League has charged Hearts "with failing to behave with the utmost good faith to the SPL" after the club was late in paying its players.

Following an emergency board meeting, the league said it would tell the club of the hearing date in due course.

The SPL says Hearts failed to pay its players on the scheduled pay day, Monday 16 January, meaning wages were late for the fourth month in a row.

But Hearts says it "will defend its position at the appropriate time".

On Monday, when January's wages were due, Hearts told BBC Scotland that the process of putting money into players' accounts began in the late afternoon.

However, the SPL said that the club had failed to meet its midnight deadline.

A statement from the governing body on Tuesday afternoon read: "On January 4, 2012, a sub-committee of the SPL board made various orders relating to late payment of wages due to 14 Heart of Midlothian players.

"One of those orders was that Heart of Midlothian should make full payment of January salaries due to the 14 players by the due date of January 16, 2012.

"The Scottish Premier League has now received confirmation from Heart of Midlothian that the club has failed to comply with this order."

Rudi Skacel celebrates the second of his three goals against St Mirren
Hearts have been in great form despite the various wage delays at Tynecastle

A statement posted on the Tynecastle club's website ahead of the SPL board meeting said Hearts "has documentary evidence" showing it paid the players on 16 January and that it "totally refutes the suggestion" made by the SPL that it had not.

And club director Sergejus Fedetovas told BBC Scotland: "I'm looking forward to finding out more about the SPL's position, which looks really interesting.

"We should not be punished for something we have complied with.

"I cannot give an explanation for the SPL statement until we get more information.

"We were given two dates to meet payments. The first date was met a lot earlier (4th for 11th). The next date was 16th and we paid on 16th January. We had an obligation to pay and we paid. That's it."

However, later in the day the SPL issued a statement that said: "The Scottish Premier League Board met this evening to consider the alleged failure by Heart of Midlothian FC to comply with the terms of the order made by the SPL on 4 January 2012 that the club pay the January wages due to the relevant players on the due date of 16 January 2012.

"As a result, Heart of Midlothian FC are being charged under SPL Rule A3.1 with failing to behave with the utmost good faith to the SPL."

And the flow of statements continued later on Tuesday evening when Hearts posted the following on its website: "The club has noted the decision of the SPL this evening and will defend its position at the appropriate time. The club will make no further comment on the matter."

A fine, docked points and a transfer embargo are all possible sanctions at the SPL's disposal.

After wages were paid late in October and November, a further delay in December prompted 14 members of Hearts' first-team squad to submit a complaint to the SPL via the players' union.

Last month's pay, due on 16 December, was received on 4 January - the day the SPL sub-committee adjudicated over the dispute, ordering the club to comply to a number of orders, including timely delivery of January's salaries.

Hearts' recent turmoil off the field - owner Vladimir Romanov has suggested he - has not been replicated on it.

Since the first-team squad instructed PFA Scotland to make the formal complaint on 16 December, Hearts have won five games during a six-match unbeaten run.