Craig Gordon cannot help wondering where the money Hearts earned from his record £9million transfer to Sunderland went. Perhaps only Vladimir Romanov and his erstwhile colleagues really know the answer to that.
Now Celtic No.1, Gordon was sold by his formative club Hearts in August 2007 in a British record deal for a goalkeeper. At the time, the Edinburgh club were £36million in debt, a noose around their neck which would eventually suffocate them into the coma of administration.
As he prepares for the return of the top-flight fixture between Celtic and Hearts this afternoon, Gordon has revealed he even donated his share of the transfer fee to the Gorgie outfit eight years ago. It was not an inconsiderable amount – believed to be a six-figure sum – which Gordon hoped would go towards the youth development arm of Hearts.
“Maybe it did go towards that, maybe it didn’t,” says Gordon. “I’ve no idea. But it would have been nice if a certain percentage of it had managed to filter through.
“I don’t know what happened to my transfer fee. I think it’s long gone, but I’m saying nothing! When I left Hearts, I didn’t take anything with me from the transfer fee or any signing on fees. I left that with the club. Maybe it would have been better if I had taken it with me so I could put it back in now.
“I waived what I could have taken. I thought that was the right thing to do. The club did well by me. They gave me my chance to come through and showed a great deal of faith in me. They put me on a good contract before I left for Sunderland, which was not long after it. I certainly didn’t feel the need to take any more than was necessary. I did say that I would rather leave it to the youth development which had helped me, to put it towards perhaps a few more players coming through.”
Gordon could only watch in horror when the team he grew up supporting lapsed into administration in June 2013. “When Hearts got into trouble, I didn’t do very much at all to be honest. Until things settled down and there was clear road forward, I didn’t do very much at all. It was a difficult time until things looked as if they were heading in the right direction and they were going to get out of it.
“Ann Budge came in and she was the catalyst to that happening. She has done an unbelievable job, setting things up the way that she has. There wasn’t a way forward and it looked as if it wasn’t going to be worthwhile and there were some pretty dark days.
“We didn’t really know where the club was going to go but thankfully it seems to be on the right path now. The club is very stable and there is a huge difference on the park as well.
“I thought at one point it was a possibility the club could have gone. I think it would’ve come back somehow, whatever way, whatever route it had to go down to do that. For it still to be the same club with the same history is massive for the fans.
“I’m happy the Celtic-Hearts fixture is back. It’s a good game, good for the league and good to play in. The fans always make it a great atmosphere and there can be some lively games. So I think everyone is glad it’s back. No matter whether it’s at Celtic Park or Tynecastle, it is a big game.”