HEARTS midfielder Ryan Stevenson has informed the club he will not play for them again after a request to terminate his contract was refused.
Stevenson is outraged at continual wage delays and told senior Hearts officials that the stress is taking its toll at home, where wife Hannah is expecting their first child.
He had asked for his contract, which expires in June, to be terminated and all monies owed to him waived, thus allowing him a fresh start when the January transfer window opens. However, his request was knocked back by the Hearts board who still see him as a saleable asset. The player has now told the club he will not train or play again in the hope of forcing their hand. Stevenson is seeking a severance deal which would allow him to leave at the first opportunity and continue his career elsewhere.
Paulo Sergio, the Hearts manager, has been told of his decision and it remains to be seen if the Portuguese can persuade Stevenson to change his mind before this weekend’s SPL match with Motherwell.
Hearts players received their November wages on December 15 but are still awaiting salaries for this month. Stevenson is angered by the wages problems and, with a baby on the way, has taken the decision to withdraw his services. Legally, that could put him in a precarious position regarding breach of contract, although the midfielder would argue that Hearts are not honouring contracts by failing to pay salaries on time.
The 27-year-old is a first-team regular and joint-top goalscorer at Tynecastle this season, and clubs in England’s Championship are monitoring his position closely.
Meanwhile, Hearts have settled another outstanding six-figure tax bill in response to a second winding-up order inside two months. HMRC lodged a petition at the Court of Session, which forced the Edinburgh club to part with a significant sum. They paid a £1million tax bill only last month, which followed a £200,000 bill which was settled in August.
A Hearts spokesperson said: “This is in relation to a historic debt, separate to the previous case, which has been paid this week.”