Romanov set to reveal new twist at Tynecastle

February 27, 2007

Hearts will make 'a major announcement' tomorrow morning at Tynecastle.

The club have called a 9am press conference at which they could announce a coaching change, with Valdas Ivanauskas reportedly due to be replaced in charge of the first team by Kestutis Latoza.

Hearts have not revealed any details of the announcement, which follows today's annual general meeting at the club.

Supporters today complained of receiving inadequate answers to their questions from chairman Roman Romanov.

Romanov, son of majority shareholder Vladimir, refused to confirm whether Latoza would be installed as the new head coach at the AGM.

Edinburgh businessman Pat Munro has also confirmed his interest in a takeover of the club, however the Romanovs have given no indication of being ready to halt their project at this stage.

Vladimir Romanov is determined to make Hearts serious rivals to Rangers and Celtic, and is intending to develop Tynecastle into a 40,000-seat stadium.

To that end, Hearts are close to securing a £6million deal which will allow the expansion to go ahead, with Tynecastle High School and nursery being relocated.

Roman Romanov allayed concerns about the financial position of Hearts at the AGM, but 'confusion and unrest' on team issues continued to linger.

The Hearts chairman, who is the son of majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov, urged supporters not to worry about the growing club debt.

A motion was passed which will allow the Hearts board to extend the current debt of £28.4million to £40million, to allow for investment in Tynecastle's growth.

However Romanov junior also told supporters that, for as long as his father remains in charge at Hearts, the club's head coach will have to accept the businessman's input into team affairs.

'Maybe a coach will get 50% or 60% control, but definitely not 100%,' said chairman Romanov.

Alex Gowans, chairman of the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders' Association, believes supporters and shareholders came away with a mixed view of events at the club.

'There's two elements of looking at it,' said Gowans. 'There is the business side of the company and there's the playing side.'

Vladimir Romanov's UBIG empire are supporting Hearts financially, meaning even the current level of debt should not force the club to make cut-backs in the near future.

Gowans believes all is well on that front.

'Vladimir has done everything that he has said he was going to do but clearly there is a cost there,' Gowans told Sky Sports News.

'When you look at the report on the accounts from Hearts it shows debt of around £28million, but I think in future we need to look at Hearts not in isolation but as a subsidiary of UBIG.

'And they, it would appear, have the ability to absorb any extra debt which will be required to rebuild the stadium. So, from that point of view, that's quite a comfort.

'The other side of the equation is on the playing side, and there is clearly a significant amount of confusion and unrest among supporters and shareholders as to the way that the team is being picked, the lack of consistency and the change in players and managers.

'We're probably the only club around that can have a manager of the year competition with the amount of changes that have been going on.

'What we'd all like to see is an element of consistency.'

The AGM occurred in the wake of reports that head coach Ivanauskas would be ushered from the dug-out to a new role as director of football, with former Lithuania manager Latoza arriving to take charge of the first team.

Latoza has admitted holding talks with Vladimir Romanov but insisted he could join any of the Hearts chief's three clubs.

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

He told the Edinburgh Evening News: '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.

Romanov told shareholders Hearts were determined to build a team of players committed to the club, and stressed: '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.'

Tonight Vladimir Romanov's spokesman, Charlie Mann, told BBC Radio Scotland: 'There has been no decision reached on any changes within the club's coaching structure at this moment in time.'

As for whether Ivanauskas was agreeable to the new role planned for him by Romanov, Mann said: 'I would suspect reading the signals that we're all seeing and reading, it may well be something they're discussing equally between them.

'He's not going anywhere. Valdas is long term.'

As for the stadium plans, Mann said: 'That's got to be a major part of the club, the development of the club, and where the increased revenue will come from in the future.

'Obviously you need to get more people in the stadium. Once they get approval from the council - and that is going on at the moment - the club are looking at getting the planning application in within six to eight weeks.'