GEORGE FOULKES today responded with disbelief to Sergejus Fedotovas’ claim that he is a “pretend” Hearts supporter, stressing he will be present at the next two games whilst the club hierarchy are not.
Fedotovas, below, stated on the Hearts website earlier this week that Foulkes, Gary Mackay, Phil Anderton, plus former managers Graham Rix and George Burley, had merely serviced their own agendas whilst working for the Edinburgh club. Foulkes, formerly chairman of Hearts, refutes the claims strongly. He stressed that his regular attendance at matches proves his allegiance whilst Fedotovas and Vladimir Romanov, the majority shareholder at Tynecastle, are seen at games only sporadically.
“I think a lot of supporters see through this. People realise what’s behind it,” said Foulkes. “That’s the irony in calling someone like me a pretend supporter. I’ll be at Tynecastle today and on Christmas Eve, I’m not sure Sergey and Vladimir will.”
Fedotovas rounded on the media and many other outside influences in the website rant. He claimed independent lawyers consulted by Hearts players because of wage delays were attempting to profit from the club’s financial problems. Foulkes suspects Fedotovas was voicing the opinions of his paymaster.
“I think the statement is outrageous but not unusual,” he continued. “I’d say the comments are from Mr Romanov, not Mr Fedotovas. Sergejus is just the mouthpiece. The substance of what is said is just nonsense. To say Gary Mackay is just a pretend supporter is just garbage.
“He’s had a go at me before but what I find strange is that Graham Rix has been brought into it this time. All that poor guy did is get appointed by Romanov amid controversy and then sacked by Romanov. The whole thing is bizarre, absolutely bizarre. It defies comprehension. The media are attacked and Paul McBride QC, too. It’s the usual scattergun approach. The best form of defence is attack, so to divert attention from criticism of your actions you have a go at someone else. They are attempting to take credit for paying people the money they owe them, and paying them late. It’s a bit peculiar.
“The concentration now needs to be on finding a way forward for Hearts, not this war of words.”
The wage problems at Tynecastle eased slightly on Thursday when players received November’s salaries but Foulkes remains concerned about the public image of the club. In particular, he is keen for greater public leadership at boardroom level.
“The lack of wages disheartens players, especially younger ones. Some of the better-paid players can probably survive for a month without getting paid because they’ll have lots of money in the bank. It’s the young ones who are only getting modest wages that will suffer when salaries aren’t paid.
“Hearts and the owners have an even greater duty of care to their younger players. They need looking after. I think the problem is lack of leadership. I go to away matches and often there are no directors there. There’s no-one giving public leadership which is needed at the club. That’s why we need to get into a new era where we’ve got a board containing recognisable people who take on the responsibility of day-to-day leadership at the club.”
The Hearts board currently comprises four directors, with only one working in Edinburgh on a daily basis whilst the rest live overseas. Vitalijus Vasiliauskas is based at Tynecastle as project manager for infrastructure and development and is entrusted with overseeing stadium plans in Gorgie or elsewhere.
Fedotovas, Vladimir’s son Roman and his niece Julija Goncaruk are all out of the country and inaccessible to all bar a select few. Foulkes feels that is a situation which must be changed for the good of Hearts.
On the field, he is moderately encouraged ahead of today’s meeting with Dunfermline. Only Fraser Forster’s penalty save minutes from the end denied Hearts a draw at Celtic Park last week.
“I saw the Celtic match on TV and I thought they played with tremendous determination,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for that wonder save by the Celtic goalkeeper, we could have got a draw.”