VLADIMIR ROMANOV addressed the Hearts players following Saturday's defeat by Rangers to declare that Steve Banks could no longer be trusted to play for the club – comparing him with Steven Pressley and Andy Webster.
The majority shareholder entered the away dressing-room at Ibrox moments after the final whistle and claimed to have lost faith in Banks, who was replaced by reserve goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald for the match.
"Banks cannot be trusted, same as Pressley could not be trusted, same as Webster could not be trusted," said Romanov in front of a bemused first-team squad. A meeting between the pair on Saturday morning confirmed Banks' fate and he was a notable absentee later in the day as Kyle Lafferty and Kris Boyd goals consigned Hearts to defeat at Ibrox.
Pressley and Webster both clashed with Romanov and endured similar treatment to Banks before leaving Hearts.
A statement on the Edinburgh club's website revealed that the veteran Englishman is officially now youth team goalkeeping coach, effectively a demotion given that he has performed the dual role of player/goalkeeping coach for the first team for the last year.
It remains to be seen if the new arrangement is permanent but Banks is unlikely to play for Hearts again. The Evening News has learned that he and Romanov did not see eye to eye earlier this year when Rangers attempted to lure the 36-year-old to Ibrox as cover for Allan McGregor.
He was viewed suspiciously by Romanov as the last remaining George Burley signing at the club and, with further discussions due to take place between the parties this week, Banks may seek another club before the transfer window shuts.
Jamie MacDonald performed creditably in difficult circumstances on what was his competitive debut. Afterwards, he was quick to praise Banks' contribution, saying: "Banksy is a good goalkeeping coach and a good man. He's very experienced and has done well. He prepares everybody for a game."
Hearts have now begun searching for a new first-team goalkeeping coach. Arturas Ramoska, who holds the position at FBK Kaunas, is amongst the candidates.