Latoza: Hearts manager link is just 'rumour'

February 27, 2007

Former Lithuania manager Kestutis Latoza has admitted holding talks with Vladimir Romanov but insists he could join any of the Hearts majority shareholder's three clubs.

Reports have claimed head coach Valdas Ivanauskas will step up to the director of football role at Tynecastle to make way for Latoza.

With Romanov also controlling Lithuanian champions FBK Kaunas and Belorussian outfit MTZ Ripo, Latoza did not confirm Edinburgh was his destination.

Hearts, who held their AGM this morning, have refused to comment on the situation.

Latoza told the Edinburgh Evening News: 'I have spoken with Mr Romanov about working for him but he has three different clubs.'

He added: 'At this moment, there are no results and no contracts, I cannot say what will happen with Hearts. We will talk more.

'Scottish football has a lot of interest for me. I know a lot about Hearts.'

Ivanauskas left for a short break in Germany after the 1-1 draw with St Mirren 10 days ago but did not return as expected.

If Latoza does take over at Tynecastle, he will not be handed full control over team selection, according to chairman Roman Romanov, Vladimir's son.

He told shareholders earlier today: 'Maybe a coach will get 50 or 60% control, but definitely not 100%.

'We won't play players who don't have a long-term contract. We don't want to develop players to move on to Rangers or Celtic.'

With banker Vladimir Romanov owning more than 80% of shares, a decision to allow the board to increase borrowing to £40million was passed.

Hearts are £28.4million in debt but plan to construct a new main stand at Tynecastle.

Romanov junior tried to assure fans the increased debt was not a problem, and stressed neither he nor his father had any intention of relinquishing their interest in the club.

Meanwhile, striker Mauricio Pinilla has returned to former club Universidad de Chile.

The South American was on loan at Tynecastle from Sporting Lisbon but last played in September before returning to his homeland for treatment to a calf problem.

'I'm happy to be home,' he told a press conference in Chile.