SPL&SFA hold secret talks to prepare for Hearts complaint

Tynecastle Stadium. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Tynecastle Stadium. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football Association have already made plans to deal with a complaint from Hearts players over ongoing wage delays, which is due to be submitted this afternoon.

Senior officials of both the SPL and SFA have held secret talks to ensure the Tynecastle squad’s protest is dealt with as efficiently as possible. They agreed that the SPL should deal with the complaint initially, with any subsequent appeal to be heard by the SFA.

Firstly, provided the grievance is lodged with the SPL today, it will top of the agenda at Monday’s SPL board meeting. Directors will discuss the matter but will not impose any immediate sanctions on Hearts. Instead, they will petition the Edinburgh club to provide a formal explanation for the delays before deciding whether punishment is merited.

Hearts players finally received their overdue November wages yesterday, however December’s salaries are due today. The players’ collective complaint will be submitted to the SPL unless all monies are paid in full before 5pm.

The Tynecastle squad held a meeting with PFA Scotland officials at Riccarton yesterday when well over a dozen of the unpaid players signed the protest. The discussions went on for an hour and 15 minutes, after which PFA Scotland’s chief executive, Fraser Wishart, emerged with a mandate to complain to the SPL.

“It is welcome news that the players have received part of the monies outstanding to them,” said Wishart. “Throughout this whole process they have been thoroughly professional and focused in their outlook.

“The members have, however, mandated that should they not be paid fully up to date by December 16, a collective complaint to the Scottish Premier League will be lodged. It is our hope that the salaries will be paid fully and no further action is necessary.”

Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas has arrived in Scotland from Lithuania to deal with the crisis engulfing the club. He praised the players for their professionalism, but opened fire on others he accused of seeking to profit from the financial problems at Tynecastle. Fedotovas said: “All this hysteria around Hearts is a very profitable business for the media and even some solicitors have taken the chance to grab the limelight alongside more controversial ‘experts’. You will hardly find a better chance for publicity these days, apart from the national independence topic but most people prefer to keep their opinion away from the public and enjoy less dangerous statements.

“You may have noticed that no-one really cares to suggest how to improve or help the situation, but would rather speak about how bad it is. Apart from opportunistic suggestions to remove Romanov, they provide no solutions as to how to get funding for the club in a deteriorating economic environment.

“I am not surprised that most ‘experts’ are looking for chances to profit from this situation by pretending they care about Hearts but in reality are disregarding the future of the club, making the club a victim of their personal crusade against a Russian businessman and creating an environment that lets them line their own pockets.

“Mr Romanov has been at Hearts for quite a while and apart from help to sell Scottish papers, he has invested around £70 million in the club, kept the club at Tynecastle and prolonged its history for at least seven years.

“Now he is leaving and without his help it will be much more difficult to make ends meet, or target the top of the league. People who are wrongly happy about it can pass on their thanks to the likes of Gary Mackay, George Foulkes, Anderton, Rix, and others that used the club for their personal agendas, pretending to be supporters of the club but in fact seeking supporters for themselves. And a special thanks to Mr Murdoch and his exemplary journalism methods that have been adopted in various forms by many football writers in Scotland.

“Mr Romanov left Lithuanian football two years ago and it has turned into a ‘Mickey Mouse’ competition ever since. To lose money is much easier than to find an investor these days and it inevitably bears an impact.

“A very big part of Europe is in trouble now. Very many clubs do not pay their players’ salaries for months. It is not an excuse; it is a consequence of economic reality. We are living in countries that cut employment, pensions, increase retirement age and taxes. Businesses are abandoned, businessmen reconsider their strategies. If we want to survive we need to adapt to a new environment and unfortunately with an element of shock. The transition to a safer situation is painful, but is inevitable.

“I can assure the fans that we have the plan to normalise the business at the club and we also know the rules and regulations – no player walkout will happen. This is pure sensationalist stories to grab your attention.

“No senior players that have value to this club will leave the club for free. We have already done some business that allowed us to pay wages and tax this month and will allow us to minimise the risk of delays in the future. We now need to implement the plan we have and prepare for the next season.

“I need to say that a lot of people at the club are working very hard to keep our promise to supporters, partners and employees of the club and it is purely because of such efforts we were able to pay the players. All the pressure, bullying and threats did not help and will not help in the future, just the professionalism of the staff and players that give their 100 per cent on the pitch.

“We are appreciative of the players who made the overall wellbeing of the club a priority ahead of their own personal situations in what has been a pressurised period for everyone involved. In fact, this is the cleverest strategy to achieve a positive change of their careers – they are true professionals – it will not pass unnoticed and they have a great future.

“Credit is also due to those who refused to have their heads turned by outside influencers pretending they care about the players and the club and those who have little understanding of the economic reality of running a football business in the current climate.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank all the people – supporters, partners, players, employees – who truly supported and continue to support the club during this period. This is a great example of true professionalism, citizenship and morale.”