In an interview with the BBC today, Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov joked that he was the new manager before going on to say that the new boss is œunlikely to be Scottish. Speaking through an interpreter, the Russian-born Lithuanian businessman faced questions about issues such as the redevelopment of Tynecastle Stadium and club finances, including the ˜debt for equity’ plan announced yesterday.
The fact that Hearts lost out to Mark McGhee was œnot necessarily a bad thing and that local managers stayed within a local structure and found it difficult to rise above this. He went on to add that Scottish managers were part of a œScottish Mafia. What is meant here, and with what most of Romanov usually says, is not completely clear. However it is difficult to know exactly what Romanov said and how accurate the interpretation was. For instance, the interpreter said œMafia boss type-thing. Whether this ˜add-on’ was his or Romanov’s is unclear but it seems to me that Romanov was alluding to is that Scottish managers are comfortable being at a club where that club is run the Scottish, or British, way. When he used the words œrise above I think he was meaning that Scottish managers find it difficult to make the move to a club where it is run in, what Romanov believes to be, the proper way.
If not then it is more paranoid drivel about all the other clubs in Scotland colluding against Hearts.
During the answer to a question about where he sees Hearts in the future, and in almost a reversal of his statement that Hearts would win the Scottish league in the next three years, a claim he made when first taking over at Tynecastle, Romanov said that it was impossible to compete with the likes of Rangers and Celtic due to the higher budgets they enjoyed. This gave the two Glasgow clubs an œunfair advantage when challenging for honours.
When asked about his plans for Hearts next season made no mention of the club in question and instead spoke of the influence the Old Firm had over the match officials. “We had a period when we had red cards and penalties against us but nobody supported us,” he said. This is something I agree with Romanov on. There have been an incredible amount of crazy decisions in matches involving Rangers and Celtic.
I do not believe, as Romanov does, that there is any corruption within the SFA but I do think that officials find it more difficult to make big decisions that go against the bigger clubs. Whether this is down to falsely believing that the decisions mean more because there is more at stake for these clubs, or whether it is down to being swayed by the noises from the 50-60,000 capacity crowds, I don’t know. But it is a problem.
Finally, when asked about his management style at the club, Romanov said that he allowed œlocal people to run the club from the beginning of the year and this had not brought success. He went as far as to even mention Stephen Frail, Hearts’ caretaker manager since January 1st, and that Hearts were nearly relegated.
This is not exactly true. Stephen Frail actually improved Hearts league position before slipping to 8th at the end of the season. He was never once in trouble of being relegated during the time he was in charge, in fact, when both he and Anatoly Korobochka, who is Bulgarian (not exactly local), both had the responsibility of team affairs just prior to Frail going solo. At this point Hearts slipped to tenth and the following week drew 1-1 at home to second bottom Kilmarnock.
I am still unsure about certain things about Romanov. I agree with his stance against some sections of the Scottish media, and I agree with some of his views about the SFA and its officials. However, it has been hard to stand by and watch the way this man has turned us from a Scottish Cup winners and league challengers, albeit for one season, to a team struggling to make it into the top six, knowing that there is little alternative.
All that said though, it is good to eventually hear from the man that owns our club. The supporters may not agree with most things Romanov does but I am sure they will respect him more for taking the time to outline his plans and answer questions about the club.
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