Hearts are to go into administration, the club has confirmed.
The financially stricken Scottish Premier League club has lodged papers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh and is understood to have approached accountancy firm KPMG to act as their administrators.
A club spokesman told Press Association Sport: "We are not in administration yet but we have served our intention to appoint administrators."
A number of the club's creditors have been informed of the latest developments and sources close to Hearts expect a hearing to take place within the "next couple of days". The Jambos were faced with a winding-up order last week after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs threatened action over an unpaid Â£100,000 tax bill, although the majority of that sum has been paid.
But that was not the end of their troubles after the Tynecastle outfit was then hit with an immediate transfer embargo by the Scottish Premier League last Friday after admitting they could not afford to pay their players. The club was already under a temporary signing ban after the league was informed of its tax row.
The SPL took action just 24 hours after the Gorgie board released a statement saying they had entered a "critical" stage in their battle to pay off debts of Â£25million as well as financing tax and running costs. The entire Jambos squad was put up for sale in a desperate bid to raise the reported £500,000 needed to see the club through to the start of the new season.
The situation at the two Lithuanian companies which hold large stakes in the club has also increased fears for the future of the Edinburgh club. Majority shareholder UBIG - which owns a 50 per cent stake in the club - and 29.9 per cent shareholder Ukio Bankas were both once controlled by Vladimir Romanov but are now in the midst of being declared insolvent by Kaunas-based authorities.
Ukio Bankas - which lost an appeal against liquidation last Wednesday - is due £15million by Hearts, who also owe another £10million to UBIG. Administrators for the investment firm are expected to be appointed at some stage this month.
Politician Ian Murray is leading the Foundation of Hearts supporters' group who hope to buy the club, with a formal bid expected to be lodged by the end of the month. There is also interest from a number of other parties, including a Scandinavian consortium.
The club is now likely to face a 15-point penalty when the new SPL season kicks off on Saturday, August 3. Top-flight rules state any club suffering an insolvency event will be stripped of 10 points or a third of their previous season's tally, whichever is the greater. Hearts finished the 2012-13 campaign in 10th place with 45 points.