Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov open to sale

Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov
Romanov assumed control of Hearts in 2005

Owner Vladimir Romanov insists he will continue to support Hearts financially but admits he is now open to selling the Edinburgh club.

Players were paid on Friday, following an 18-day wait for overdue wages, and Romanov recently questioned the wisdom of continuing to invest in Hearts.

Romanov reiterated the need for reduced spending on the Tynecastle squad.

And the Lithuanian-based businessman said: "I now have to consider finding a partner or selling the club."

Hearts, who are currently exploring a move away from Tynecastle, are mired in debts of around £30m, with those arrears serviced by the bank in-which Romanov has substantial stake.

In response to the coverage of the wage delay, a statement from the club read: "Mr Romanov has confirmed that he will stand by the club and continue to support it to the extent it remains reasonable as he continues to fight against what he and an increasing number of supporters and associates are seeing as an orchestrated campaign against him personally and, by association, the club.

"The position of the shareholder in relation to the football in Scotland, in which he has invested more than any other individual in the last six years, is unsatisfactory.

"Hearts must therefore prepare to reduce investment in the playing squad to match the income in the coming season and turn to the Academy for its new additions while also improving revenue streams, including working on a new stadium in order to achieve this as soon as possible.

"It is important to stress that Hearts at the moment is strongly dependant on the funding from the major shareholder and the attempts of the media to undermine the position of the club and Mr Romanov pose a direct threat to the immediate future of the club."

A club spokesperson then strongly denied reports of an impending 'fire sale' of players, saying: "The club has some of the best players in the country and no player will be transferred for a penny less than their true value.

"Hearts will address squad efficiency over the coming months as a normal course of business. We will continue to pursue our policy of focusing on youth development."

Romanov's growing disenchantment was evident, when he added: "For seven years I keep hoping that in the country that is the cradle of football they will start respecting the game and stop taking the mickey out of the game itself and the people who are trying to fight for it, but it's like asking the mafia for remorse.

"There is only one solution left - to turn our attention to the products of our football academy in the hope that this situation will at some point and somehow improve by itself. Finally, the powers that be have begun discussing a new stadium - it seems like the politicians have developed some sort of responsibility to their own citizens, or maybe their human side has been awoken.

"And still Shakespeare's question lingers on - to be or not to be - for football to change, or will it keep on developing as a show under the media blanket and we are finally overtaken by Lithuania and Gabon.

"I haven't lost my interest in the club but I have for football. By the law of the 'free world' it is not enough to do good deeds - you have to also pay to advertise them in the press and then it's possible to carry out crimes without any consequences.

"The problem is that I refuse to pay the monkeys for the advertisement as someone has to resist their domination in sport and in culture, the ecomony and history. That's why I now have to consider finding a partner or selling the club."

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