London Hearts Supporters Club

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4 of 029 Michael Stewart 25 ;Audrius Ksanavicius 40 ;Saulius Mikoliunas 81 L SPL H

Smith at a loss to explain Romanov's riddles

By Glenn Gibbons
VLADIMIR Romanov's largely troubled relationship with Scottish football's establishment is unlikely to improve until he stops talking in riddles.
Gordon Smith, the SFA chief executive, offered the opinion yesterday that any dialogue aimed at reaching detente with the Hearts owner would be futile until the Lithuanian banker made his own views comprehensible.

Smith was asked for his "take" on Romanov's claim that "a Scottish Mafia" is at work, with the sole objective of preventing any club outside Celtic or Rangers from winning the league championship. He was also queried on the possibility of his having a personal talk with Romanov, with the possibility of achieving clarity and a more amenable understanding. "Well", said Smith, "first of all, I would like Mr Romanov to explain the comment about a 'Scottish Mafia' being at work in the game because I really have no idea what he's talking about.

"As for having a one-to-one chat with him to clear up a few things, I don't know if there would be a common thread to what we could discuss. I don't know how to react to most of what he says, because so often, it seems to me, he's just blowing off and I can't follow what he's talking about.

"Whether or not the things he says are perceived as an offence, such as bringing the game into disrepute, would be a matter for the association's general purposes committee. They are the ones who deal with that kind of thing and it would be up to them to decide if anything Mr Romanov comes out with constitutes a breach of the rules."

Meanwhile, Smith has backed referees' demands for more money – if a feasibility study shows they are being underpaid compared to their contemporaries on the continent.

The referees' association want at least £800 per match and the Scottish Premier League have agreed to implement a "benchmarking exercise" from the start of the season in a bid to help reach an agreement between both parties.

Although no specific rate has been agreed yet, possible strike action ahead of the start of the new season has been averted, with the SPL offering to back-date payments to the start of the season if they do agree to an increase.

"I'm delighted this has been resolved in the initial part," said Smith. "It was fair for the referees to ask – no question about it."

Taken from the Scotsman

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