PAULO SERGIO is hoping his frustrated Hearts players won’t allow the latest furore over late payment of wages to undermine their hopes of beating Rangers on Sunday. Late payment of wages has become a regular occurrence at Hearts over the past three years, as winger Andrew Driver confirmed, but this month the glitch in the process means some players have gone a week without pay.
Driver revealed that the squad are becoming fed up with the situation, and admitted that, while the Hearts players are used to getting paid a few days late, this latest delay has been worryingly long.
Sergio, the manager who took over in early August, has maximum sympathy for his players and is hoping that they are able to cast aside their off-field angst when they welcome the league leaders.
The Portuguese can at least take some solace from the fact that the weekend the first news of late wage payment broke, back in November 2008, Csaba Laszlo’s side recorded a 2-1 win at home to Rangers.
“It’s not good for anybody but since I arrived it’s the first time the wages have gone in late,” said Sergio. “I hope everything will be okay. Nobody should have to get used to it. I hope it’s just a problem that doesn’t arise too many times. I hope it doesn’t affect the players for Sunday but if you don’t receive your money in the correct moment you can’t be happy with that. It’s not part of my work [to sort the situation out] but I just want to be sure that the players are paid on time.”
Driver revealed that things have got so unpredictable, that it is becoming a concern for many of the squad. “The days between getting paid are getting longer,” he said. “We’ve never been worried about getting paid, it’s just the time we’re waiting to get paid that’s getting longer.
“That’s the biggest worry. Some boys get more frustrated than others, put it that way.
“The wages are supposed to be paid on the Friday and we usually ask questions on the Saturday and they have them in by Monday. When Monday comes and you’ve not been paid, that’s when you really start asking questions and a lot of the boys still haven’t been paid.
“All we can do is put a bit of pressure on to try and get it sorted as soon as possible.
“It must be hard for the manager because anything that makes his players unhappy is going to make the manager’s job more difficult. Him and Jim Jefferies both put a bit of pressure on to try and get it sorted out but there’s not really much they can do about it.
“I used to have my direct debits coming out two days after payday but I’ve had to change them to the end of the month now just to be safe. It’s not right that we get paid late, but we do eventually get paid so we can’t complain too much.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Football Association has confirmed that Sergio will face disciplinary action following his criticism of match official Iain Brines.
The Evening News revealed last week that the Tynecastle boss was being investigated over comments made before last Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Dunfermline.
Sergio was unhappy that the SFA had appointed Iain Brines as fourth official for the East End Park clash, after the referee had disallowed a goal in their Scottish Communities League Cup defeat by Ayr.
The SFA announced that their compliance officer had issued the Portuguese manager with a notice of complaint. A hearing will take place on Thursday, where Sergio will be allowed to explain his comments in front of a three-member tribunal panel. The Hearts boss could face a ban of up to three games for questioning the integrity of a match official – and a further three games for making comments about a match official before a game.
Ahead of the Dunfermline match, Sergio had said: “He told me the linesman said to him that it was a handball, but now he is saying that he saw a handball. I am not happy to have him in my sight.”