Hearts fans today claimed their club is being victimised by the SPL after the governing body announced it would take action against the Tynecastle outfit for “failing to behave with the utmost good faith to the SPL”.
Steve Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, says the club’s major shareholder Vladimir Romanov is paying the price for airing his plans to disrupt the dominance of Scottish football by Rangers and Celtic and says the SPL’s action against the club – now and in the past – is “bordering on racism” against the Russian-born businessman.
“I’m just getting sick of Scottish football – it’s Hearts at every opportunity,” said Kilgour. “They seem to froth at the mouth every time Hearts do something.
“To me, these people [at the SPL] should exist to help and promote these clubs. Scottish football needs a complete revamp. I think when Vladimir Romanov came to the country and threatened to topple the power of Rangers and Celtic, some people got worried about that.
“As Hearts supporters, we are getting sick of this. At times, it’s bordering on racism against Romanov. We all know he’s a wee bit flamboyant and eccentric at times, but he’s putting money into the game.
“I think we have a siege mentality among the fans and the club now because of the negative publicity that has surrounded Vladimir Romanov since he came to the club.”
In light of suggestions that Hearts could face a points deduction for failing to process January’s wages on Monday, Kilgour called for more leniency from the SPL towards a club that he believes is trying hard to balance the books and generate income.
“I think Hearts are trying hard to resolve it and get cash into the club, and we’ve told the SPL it’s about getting money into the club.
“A points deduction is far too harsh. You hear of clubs in La Liga paying their wages late, and their association is far more understanding. You’re setting a very dangerous precedent with harsh sanctions, as the economic climate is not getting any better.
“We have the possibility of one of our biggest clubs is going to the wall in Rangers, and they’re forcing Hearts the same way. I think they should give Mr Romanov until the end of January.”
Following instances of Hearts failing to pay players’ wages on time in October, November and December last year, the SPL laid down orders for the club to meet its obligations promptly in future months – with the promise it would impose sanctions should Hearts fail to comply.
“One of those orders was that Heart of Midlothian should make full payment of January salaries due to the 14 players by the due date of January 16, 2012,” read an SPL statement released last night.
“The Scottish Premier League has now received confirmation from Heart of Midlothian that the club has failed to comply with this order. As a result, Heart of Midlothian FC are being charged under SPL Rule A3.1 with failing to behave with the utmost good faith to the SPL. A hearing date will be notified to the club in due course.”
Sergejus Fedotovas told the Evening News: “UBIG didn’t process anything. Hearts is responsible for paying wages and Hearts processed the payments on Monday. Obviously we cannot control (players’) banks to the extent of how they operate. I understand that if we were asked to pay on the 16th and we pay on the 16th, we have fulfilled our obligations. As far as I know, all players who were due to be paid have been paid.”
It is understood that Hearts will appeal against any SPL decision to impose any sanctions.