London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2005-06--> All for 20051029
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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> John Underhill
Jankauskas Edgaras [G Buezelin 78] ;[G O'Connor 80]
71 of 099 ----- L SPL A

'They don't realise what they've done'


LIKE a smiling assassin from a scene in a World War II spy movie, Vladimir Romanov arrived on George Foulkes' doorstep in Ayr bearing gifts of wine and flowers.

Having seen an earlier meeting with the Lithuanian cancelled on Sunday, Foulkes was surprised to take a phone call from the club's majority shareholder demanding they get together.

Foulkes was with his family in Ayr, Romanov in Tayside to see Celtic take on Dundee United, the Glasgow giants' 4-2 victory knocking the Jambos off the top of the table for the first time this season.

Somewhat taken aback by the call, Foulkes explained that he was back home and meeting up would be problematical.

Romanov, though, was insistent and no sooner had the final whistle gone at Tannadice than he was in his car racing through to Ayrshire to bring news of his decision to sack chief executive Phil Anderton.

The doorbell rang at 8pm, Foulkes being met with a warm shake of the hand - and wine and flowers purchased from a local convenience store. In contrast to his cheery exterior, the news which Romanov brought was grim.

He wanted to get rid of the highly-regarded Anderton after just eight months.

"He was all very nice to start with," said Foulkes.

"I tried to persuade him not to do it but he then tried to press-gang me into agreeing to Phil's sacking.

"I warned them about the consequences of it but they insisted they would go ahead with it.

"They obviously didn't realise the significance of what they were about to do and I know it was taken against my advice and the advice of their legal advisers."

While attempting to put a brave face on the sacking of manager George Burley, Foulkes had tried desperately to save the former Ipswich and Derby boss from the axe. He failed and was forced into facing the media pack at the end of the recent Dunfermline league clash at Tynecastle, informing everyone the Scot had left with mutual consent because of "irreconcilable differences".

"I was unhappy last week at the sacking of George Burley but we got hijacked into it and they tried to blame Phil for that.

"He wasn't. Romanov engineered Burley's sacking. In the end, we had to go along with it and I had the terrible experience of making that statement. This weekend we've had the Lithuanians trying to twist my arm, first of all to soft soap me and then to brow beat me into going along with Phil's sacking and I just wouldn't do it."

As Foulkes tried desperately to use all his persuasive powers to deflect the former nuclear submariner from his mission to torpedo the promising Tynecastle career of 40-year-old Anderton, Romanov retaliated with threats.

"He threatened to pull out of Hearts if I didn't agree to the sacking of Phil Anderton," said Foulkes.

"I just couldn't go along with it and couldn't work for such a ruthless regime. I asked him on a number of occasions why he was doing it but he wouldn't give me any answers."

Having said his piece, the Baltic millionaire turned his car round and headed back to the Capital with son Roman and a legal adviser for a board meeting at Tynecastle yesterday afternoon at 1pm.

The knives were well and truly out as the seven-strong board met at lunchtime in Gorgie, Roman, Sergei Fedotovas, Liutauras Varanavicius, Romanov's niece Julija Goncaruk, financial secretary Stewart Fraser, Foulkes and Anderton all round the table.

The outcome was inevitable as the Lithuanian contingent joined forces to vote Anderton out.

"The meeting was called against my wishes as there was no reason to get rid of Phil," said Foulkes, who became involved in a blazing row with the Russian-born businessman and his henchmen.

"The whole situation is unbelievable and I truly don't think they realise what they have done."

Foulkes, who succeeded Doug Smith as chairman some 18 months ago, had become increasingly disillusioned at the manner in which Romanov had been conducting his business and finally snapped as the Anderton saga unfolded.

"I argued against their decision at the meeting but failed to change their minds.

"I have to admit it was that at point I lost my temper with them and told them: 'You don't understand the meaning of honour and integrity.'

"I tried to tell them it was not in the best interests of the club, the supporters, commercially, anything, but they just wouldn't listen. It's pathetic."

No sooner had he stormed out of the board meeting than Foulkes was on a plane out of Edinburgh to London.

Initial reports suggested Foulkes had resigned on a point of principle in the wake of Anderton's axing but a club spokesman said that both individuals had been voted out by their fellow-directors.

The club also insisted that Foulkes, who had been carrying out his duties as chairman without a salary, was offered a non- executive directorship as Romanov attempted to retain him as some sort of figurehead, a link with the supporters who recognised the politician as "one of us."

Speaking exclusively to the Evening News from his London flat in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, Foulkes said: "I just didn't want to be part of it. I found the ruthlessness totally unacceptable."

Having been one of the main driving forces behind the arrival of Romanov at Tynecastle, Foulkes insisted he felt betrayed by the Lithuanian and admitted he now fears for the future of the famous club. I do feel guilty about all of this and slightly betrayed, to be honest," he said.

"I'm in a dilemma as I brought Romanov in after the previous administration tried to demolish Tynecastle.

"He seemed like a saviour and I supported him month after month but I'm disillusioned now. I think he has reneged on promises recently, he's let us down and I'm totally disillusioned by everything.

"Of course, I fear for the club but I can only hope that everything is okay. I am in this awful dilemma. I want to see us win, I want to see us up there and I don't want to do anything that will undermine the future of Hearts and that's why I think every fan is in that dilemma.

"Vladimir Romanov has put us in that dilemma and I just hope he finds a way out it."

Roman Romanov, the 29-year-old son of the Baltic banker, has been installed as chairman and interim chief executive.

It was he who relayed the news to staff at Tynecastle at 5pm.

"I think we are a laughing stock now," added Foulkes.

"To put someone who is barely out of nappies in such a position is no way to run a football club."

Foulkes will be back at Tynecastle on Saturday for the SPL visit of Dundee United as he takes up his season ticket in the Wheatfield Stand as opposed to the directors box.

Taken from the Scotsman

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