Romanov admits to planning Hearts' training sessions

September 22, 2006
By David Sheppard

Heart of Midlothian's controversial majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov has released an extraordinary statement admitting to involving himself in the training of the squad.

Romanov has previously admitted to querying his managers over squad selections, and of taking an active interest in player recruitment, but this is the first time he has expanded on just how far his influence is felt throughout the club.

Romanov stated: 'I do not only give my approval to every team selection, but also to the plan of the training process.'

Romanov's latest comments are likely to once again fuel the flames of controversy, as the startling statement strikes broad blows at the media, 'ruthless' referees, and details his involvement in the playing side of the club.

However, Romanov has reiterated his support for Hearts manager Valdas Ivanauskas, who was rumoured to be under fire following disappointing results in Europe, and a shock home defeat to newly promoted St. Mirren in the SPL.

Romanov said in the statement: 'The journalists conduct interviews with players and after that wish to turn them into being about the support of Valdas.

Indeed, by doing this they act just like small provocateurs, manufacturing a situation where Valdas needs support.'

The statement goes on to criticise the Scottish media that Romanov believes is institutionally biased in favour of the Glasgow Old Firm, and against the newly successful Edinburgh club.

Romanov said: 'I want to dedicate Hearts victories to those journalists who, because of their hate towards us, only notice our defeats and say it is fair criticism when in fact it is simply hysteria with only one aim - to dismantle the club.

'They remain blind to unfair refereeing, even the ruthless one of Athens. We can't do much if the referee does not give us four penalties, which we deserve. I am sure fans see and remember everything.

'Despite your hysteria I do not only give my approval to every team selection, but also to the plan of the training process. I do, as well, participate in the selection of new players.

'Having said this, I am expecting more outbursts of hysteria. They give me confidence that I am on the right way.

'You remind me of those Bolsheviks in Soviet times who wanted to shoot a peasant only because he planted the seeds following his own way, and not their instructions. Once they were ready to shoot a peasant, but a clever one who stopped them and said: "Let's shoot him in the autumn after he has gathered his harvest."

'I guess that if you could, I would have already been shot by now, but whilst you can't, full of hate and anger, you are spreading manure on my crops.'

The Russian-born Lithuania based businessman has proven to be a controversial figure in the Scottish Premier League both on and off the field since he took ownership of the club in February 2005.

Whilst his investment in Hearts secured the clubs future at their traditional home of Tynecastle, and resulted in the Jambos having their most successful season in decades, winning the Scottish Cup and pipping Rangers to a Champions League spot, his handling of the club's affairs has at time appeared a tad eccentric.

After removing manager George Burley despite taking Hearts on an unbeaten run in the league, for reasons that are still mired in non-disclosure agreements, Romanov brought in ex-England International Graham Rix, in a move that was roundly condemned by fans.

After Hearts' season started to turn sour under Rix's stewardship, the former Chelsea assistant was also shown the door, to be replaced by ex-Lithuanian internationalist Valdas Ivanauskas, who Romanov had previously sacked from his Lithuanian club Kaunas.