Hearts finally pay up but withhold interest

Last updated : 10 January 2009 By Fargone
Arbroath receive payment, but saga continues

HEARTS FINALLY paid Arbroath a fee yesterday following what must be one of the lengthiest and protracted transfer dealings in Scottish football history.

The Gorgie club were due the Gayfield side approximately £15,000 following Scotland inter- nationalist defender Andy Webster's transfer to Wigan in 2006.

However, although Arbroath confirmed that a payment was made, there still remains a question over interest.

Gayfield secretary Gary Callon explained, "Hearts have now paid the amount for the invoice that was sent to them on August 1 last year.

"This amounts to £14,437.50 plus VAT at 17.5%. We did however have an agreement with them that we would allow a deferral of payment on this invoice until the January 9, on the provision that interest, at a favourable rate, was also paid dating back to August 1.

"The interest has not been included with the payment and we have pointed the matter out to Hearts and await a response from them on why they have not made this additional payment and when and how they intend to do so.

"We have also made the Scottish Football Association aware of the situation."

This latest development is perhaps typical of the entire Webster transfer saga.

Webster (26), a native Red Lichtie who started his career with Arbroath in 1999, was sold to Hearts for £75,000 in 2001.

He was a regular for the side and made 184 appearances for the Jambos but in 2006 he was left out of the match against Dundee United because of a disagreement over contracts with chairman Vladimir Romanov, who later suggested to many that Webster would leave soon.

Webster made football transfer history when he was the first to invoke a loophole in Article 17 of a FIFA-adopted EU law, enabling him to cancel his contract with Hearts in the third year of a four-year deal, with the proviso that he join a club in a foreign country and that sufficient notice be given to his former employers.

Webster's transfer to Wigan was ratified by FIFA on September 4, 2006, seemingly creating a legal precedent for the conduct of international transfers.

But a tribunal subsequently found Webster guilty of breaching his contract with Hearts "without just cause" and ordered him to pay Hearts compensation of £625,000. Hearts appealed and claimed they should be awarded the full £5 million Webster was valued at when he left the club.

The player also appealed the ruling and almost exactly a year ago the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Hearts were to be awarded £150,000 for Webster's breach of contract.

Throughout all this, Arbroath were forced to wait patiently for an eventual outcome as the second division side had negotiated a 17.5% "sell-on" clause in the original transfer with Hearts.

Further negotiations between the two clubs eventually saw them arrive at the £14,437.50 plus VAT figure which Hearts agreed to pay last August.

No money was forthcoming, however, and the Lichties finally lost their patience last month when they revealed that they were considering asking the SFA to freeze Hearts' gate receipts and block any transfer dealings until the money was paid.