Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Craig Thomson row: Drinks sponsor macb ends Hearts deal

Craig Thomson
Image caption Thomson was placed on the register over internet contact with two girls

Drinks company macb has withdrawn its support as the official water sponsor of football club Hearts.

The move comes after the club said it would not sack player Craig Thomson, who has been convicted of grooming two young girls on the internet.

The flavoured spring water firm said that as "a company with strong family values" it was left with no choice but to withdraw its support.

The player has urged people to respect the judgement of the court and Hearts.

A statement issued by his lawyer Andrew Houston asked Hearts fans and the wider public "to recognise that the sheriff who heard all the relevant facts and circumstances did not consider him to be a risk to the public, and accordingly did not impose any restrictions on his movements or association with young people."

The sponsorship deal with macb was worth more than £5,000.

A spokesman for Hearts said the club had no comment to make on the withdrawal of the sponsorship agreement.

The charity Children 1st earlier called on Hearts to dismiss Thomson after he was placed on the sex offenders register.

The 20-year-old was fined £4,000 for his lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour towards two girls, aged 12 and 14, over the internet.

Hearts said it was keeping the player because there were "mitigating circumstances" which provided assurance his conduct would not be repeated.

A spokeswoman for macb said: "As a company with strong family values, we are left with no choice but to terminate our relationship with the Hearts football club.

"Along with countless others, fans and co-sponsors alike, we are extremely disappointed with the club's handling of this situation and as a result can no longer continue our support."

Last week Thomson issued an apology via the club website, saying he was "fully aware" that he had "let everyone down".

On Monday, manager Jim Jefferies said he was determined to prevent the case becoming a "sideshow" which affected the rest of his team.

"You don't want your club to be associated with anything like this," he said.

"You accept as a manager that you'll have to deal with problems along the road. But I have to be honest and say I've never felt like this.

"There's a big part of me that is sorry the player got involved because I knew what the reaction would be and he can't have any complaints because it was a bad, bad thing he did. He has made a grave error."

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