Are Hearts Safe Under Vladimir Romanov?


It’s safe to say that Vladimir Romanov’s reign as majority shareholder of Hearts has been anything but dull.  The manager’s position has changed eight times in six years, but the club has also finished 2nd in the SPL and won the Scottish Cup.

And there’s been plenty of controversy too.  In 2006, after multiple managerial changes, three Hearts players (Steven Pressley, Craig Gordon and Paul Hartley) held a press conference and told the journalists in attendance that there was “significant unrest” in the dressing room as a result of Romanov’s actions.  It seemed Romanov didn’t take those words kindly, and by the summer of 2007, all three had left the club.

But Romanov has been at his most controversial when he’s voiced his opinions of the SFA and Scottish football in general.  Hearts were fined £10,000 in 2006 after Romanov had said “Last season, you didn’t manage to protect the Scottish Cup and gave it to Hearts, despite all the referees’ efforts and intrigues.  And in 2007, it was reported that Romanov had accused the Old Firm of buying off referees and players.  Rangers and Celtic threatened legal action, but Romanov claimed to have been misquoted.

Last month, Hearts were fined £100,000 by the SFA for disciplinary problems, and last week defender Craig Thomson was placed on the sex offenders register after being convicted of “lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour” with under-age girls on the internet.  These events seemingly lead to Hearts issuing this extraordinary statement last Friday:

What’s happening with the club today is not a new thing. For almost 7 years we have been fighting to shield the club from crooks, criminals and thieves. Many of the top players at the club have felt the bitter results of the swindles that have been carried out with them on their own skin. Skacel and Webster have returned to the club after realising where these ‘football patriots’ have led them.

Over a short space of time 4 players at our club have been on the wrong end of the law. We note that 3 of them are represented by the same agent – Gary Mackay – who has been so vicious in his attacks against Mr Romanov.

Taking into account the facts that have been omitted by the media it can be presumed that each of these cases is not a coincidence, but the result of targeted actions of a mafia that wants to manipulate the club and the results.

Every year Hearts fights to be in the top 3, but even last season in the last 12 games of the season it was almost like someone replaced the team with a different one. Whose fault is that? Players? Manager’s? Or it is mafia.

Stealing players, bad games, problems with the law – all of that on top of record SFA fines. Problems are just shifted to another level.

Mafia are dragging kids into the crime, in order to blackmail and profit on them. It is not possible to separate these people from pedophiles, and you don’t need to do that. Each year we are forced to fight against these maniacs harder and harder. We are standing in their way not letting them manipulate the game of football in the way they want. As such they undermine us in every possible way they can.

The task of the club is to tear these kids out of hands of criminals.”

This bizarre rant, posted on the official Hearts website, seems certain to result in another fine for the club.  But the wording of it should concern to Hearts fans too.  What is Romanov’s endgame?  If Romanov lost interest in Hearts, things could get ugly.  Hearts have a significant amount of debt, and Romanov’s Lithuanian banks control it, what would happen if he suddenly demanded it was paid off?

In Jim Jeffries, Hearts have an experienced manager, and life-long fan in charge.  They have already signed a number of players for the new season, and will be looking for another third place finish, and attempting to close the gap between them and the Old Firm.  But with Vladimir Romanov behind the scenes, anything can, and probably will, happen.

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