HEARTS FEDERATION MEETING - 3 NOV 2005
Scots Guards Club, Haymarket.
John Borthwick announced at the Executive Committee meeting which took
place immediately beforehand that Roman Romanov had asked that afternoon if
he could attend tonight's meeting. The Executive immediately agreed and a
quick phone call was made. Roman Romanov and his Communications Director,
David Southern turned up soon after the start of the regular meeting and
stayed for over an hour to explain recent events at Tynecastle and to answer
questions from the floor. There were around 40 people in attendance.
*David S spoke first and admitted that the last 12 days or so
had been a PR disaster. He was highly critical of some elements of the
press, although he agreed that the club had probably not helped itself by
its recent actions. They regretted signing the confidentiality agreement
with Burley and claimed that he had more to lose if the facts were
revealed, which Romanov indicated would probably happen over time. Romanov sat with a glass of beer and joked that perhaps if he had a few more he might
reveal all tonight. David S admitted to being annoyed that the press is
taking Burley's side without knowing the truth.
*Romanov, who speaks reasonably good English, spoke next and
stated categorically that his father and he were here for the long haul. He
came across as a pleasant guy and a straight talker, although the
audience's reaction was polite and muted. Most appeared still to be in a state
of shock over what has happened over the past few days and will need more
than words to convince them to trust the new owners after what has
happened. Romanov pleaded "judge us over the next 12 months or so and not over the past 12 days"
*Romanov said that his father and footballing experts (he didn't
say who) felt that Burley was making insufficient progress in developing
the team and that, despite frequent requests for him to justify his team
selection he had refused to explain himself adequately. Vladimir had
felt the team's performance at Falkirk was well below par and, to a certain
extent, at Parkhead. He had asked Burley why the right side of the
team wasn't performing better and why he didn't bring in other players from
the squad but he didn't get any explanations. He believed that, as he is
pumping in millions, that he was entitled to ask the manager questions and to
get proper answers. It didn't happen! He emphasised that his father had
never interfered in team selection and doesn't intend to but he wants a
manager to be able to explain why he wants him to spend his money to buy players and to explain his strategy. Burley simply wasn't prepared to do that.
*Both speakers stated that there were other, more serious,
factors surrounding Burley's departure and Romanov reiterated that it would all
come out in due course. He briefly hinted at the reasons but David S
stopped him from saying more - for legal reasons! They repeated that Burley had
most to lose if the truth ever came out.
*On the reasons for Anderton's departure, Romanov felt less
constrained. Put quite simply, he was spending far too much time and
money on short term objectives and failing to deliver on the longer term
strategy issues. For example, he had failed to make sufficient progress with
Edinburgh Council about acquiring the land behind the old stand and
had spent too much time talking about grand schemes and not enough on
making things happen. Romanov himself has a meeting arranged with the Council
tomorrow (Friday) to progress the acquisition of the McLeod St land.
He is eager to start ground re-development at the end of the season and at
the rate Anderton was working this wasn't going to happen. He went onto
explain that Hearts intend to build a new stand and a hotel in which foreign
players and guests will stay when they come to Tynecastle. It was essential
that the ground capacity is increased.
*On the subject of a new manager we were told that this was their
No 1 priority; then a new CEO. Indeed, his father was curently in London
interviewing (he phoned him during the meeting but he didn't take the
call) and he hoped that he would be in a position to announce the new
manager's name early next week.
*There is no truth in the rumours circulating that John McGlynn
has resigned or that Rudi Skacel's loan deal has been torn up. Both these
stories, we were assured, are based on tabloid mischief makers. One of
the rumours is that Skacel has taken his child out of an Edinburgh nursery
and sent his wife back to France, as he plans to follow her shortly. We
were assured that Skacel neither has a wife nor a child and is going nowhere
this season. If he continues to make good progress he will get a longer
term deal in January.
*David S was critical of George Foulkes' comments in the press
over the last few days. He attempted, but failed, to get the audience to
agree with him. He was told in no uncertain terms that we considered GF our
saviour and hero and indeed that he would be attending the next
Federation meeting on 1 December as a guest speaker. He took the point and backed off. (In fact, the Federation are planning to make a gift presentation to GF
on 1 Dec and we hope to hear more about what has happened behind the
*Finally, Romanov asked that we have faith, assured us that
everything that has happened was in the club's best interests. He
concluded by thanking us for inviting him along tonight and said that he intended
to improve communications as a matter of urgency by inviting a fans rep to
sit on the Board.
Hope this helps those who are struggling this week to know whats what