Former striker John Robertson has issued a stark warning on Hearts' financial future, describing the club's share issue scheme as "a call to arms".
Hearts are subject to a transfer embargo after failing to pay their players on schedule in the last two months, and financial worries have led to a bid to raise funds. The Scottish Cup winners claim that, if fully subscribed, the share offer, which opened last month, could raise up to £1.79million, at 11p per share, with supporters taking control of 10% of the club.
Robertson, who is an ambassador for the scheme, told HeartsTV: "It's quite simple: this is a call to arms for all Hearts fans. The club is in a grave situation. They're making strides and huge strides in getting the club back to a self-sustainable level."
He added: "That should arrive sometime at the start of next season, but in the meantime there's a shortfall. Not players' wages, just a general shortfall. If this share issue reaches the successful height we're looking for, or close to it, then that will keep the club's head above water until the end of the season.
"Then when the new cuts come in and the big-earning players' contracts are up, that will put us in a much healthier situation. It will become self-sustainable then. The wage bill will be far more easily covered.
"We'll still have £22million in debt, but that's another story. This is about getting the club to the end of the season."
While warning of future trouble, Robertson attempted to remain optimistic, including on retaining players whose contracts are up at the end of the season.
He added: "It's vital. We need all the Hearts fans now to stand up. We need them to come forward, because the club is in a serious position.
"This is short-term. The next six weeks determine the next six months, which could ultimately determine the next six years.
"It doesn't mean to say we're going to lose the players we've got. The guys who have negotiated big contracts over the last few years will have to take what the club can afford. Hopefully we can still retain those players."