Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov brands ex-staff ‘traitors’

VLADIMIR ROMANOV has aimed another broadside at former Hearts managers, players and employees whom he believes turned against the club. The Tynecastle owner branded them “traitors” and claimed they conspired to destroy his success.

The second Scottish Cup win of Romanov’s tenure earlier this month has not diluted the ire he reserves for anyone who speaks out against him. He said today that a media campaign aimed at destabilising Hearts was launched from the moment they threatened to win the SPL under George Burley in 2005.

Romanov indicated that this led to a lack of trust in UK-based football figures, forcing him to scour the eastern European market for coaches and managers. Primarily, he feels betrayed by those who worked inside Tynecastle and then criticised his regime after leaving.

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“All are traitors,” he claimed. “Agents, fired coaches and players who were not required. Ex-employees became TV stars and combined into groups to participate in a campaign of lies against our club. On British Parliament TV – a global symbol of democracy – Lord Foulkes, a former Hearts director, cursed me.

“When the coaches, directors and agents took legal actions I realised the club was being destroyed from inside. I took unpopular decisions, to change Scottish specialists and launched the career of Valdas Ivanauskas. At one time I had to even appoint a coach and steward in Anatoly Korobochka.

“Rudi Skacel scored 16 goals during his first period with the club and was among the best scorers in the UK. But the traitors succumbed him for four years, when he scored just two goals. He returned to Hearts this season and scored 18 goals.

“I was sorry that a talented footballer lost the golden years of his career for a lot of money. Let him thank his agent for that service, which was also passed to George Burley. He became Scotland national coach, yet he couldn’t cope with Lithuanian national team.

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“Hearts have brought through Lee Wallace, Christophe Berra, Eggert Jonsson, Andy Driver, David Templeton and many other players recently. We worked wonders with Skacel and at one point we had five players in the Scotland team, including Paul Hartley and Craig Gordon.

“To players who have taken enemy provocations and focused on the game, I say thanks.”

Romanov again criticised the Scottish media for what he claimed was a deliberate attempt to sabotage Hearts’ chances of success. “Seven years ago, when I bought Hearts, we won the Scottish Cup and earned second in the SPL in the first year of my management. The audiences in the stadium rose and the media called it the Romanov revolution.

“After the successful launch, the country’s championship began an organised campaign of defamation and destruction of the club and me as the owner. It was like the hero turned mad but if someone abnormal beats them, what does that make them?

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“The media opinion changed around and a campaign began against Hearts like war. For this purpose, a group had been created for their opinion and only that was published. It turns out that, in Britain, an independent opinion within the media exists only in theory. Opinion is purchased for cash, as well as rules of business, culture, sports, politics.

“Then I discovered the will to fight for survival. I chose to fight and called them monkeys. I had to fight on two fronts, with the media in Scotland and the way it perverted the media in Lithuania. When the only noise from Hearts was about late payment of wages, this noise was repeated in Lithuania.

“However, when we won two Scottish Cups the Lithuanian mass media acted like they had seen or heard nothing. There was collusion between print and radio. I had to think not about results and saving the club but how to survive in the jungle.”

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