HEARTS have confirmed that convicted sex offender Craig Thomson’s contract with them has come to an end, freeing around £1,500 per week from their wage bill.
The 22-year-old full-back last played for the Tynecastle club in 2011, and subsequently went on loan spells to Lithuanian clubs Kaunas and Suduva. It is unclear whether his Hearts contract ran its course until the end of last month or was terminated early.
A promising right-back, Thomson made his debut for Hearts in their pre-season tour of Germany in July 2009, and made his first competitive outing a month later against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.
Between that season and the following campaign he made 52 club appearances, and also won four age-group caps – two with Scotland under-19s and two with the under-21s.
But his progress came to an abrupt halt in the summer of 2011, when he was convicted of indecent behaviour towards two girls aged 12 and 14, and placed on the sex offenders register.
Hearts initially appeared unsure how to deal with the player, and club owner Vladimir Romanov released a bizarre statement blaming outsiders for trying to undermine the club.
Pressure mounted from both supporters and sponsors, with water company MacB ending its agreement with the club. Then, a month after the conviction, it was announced that Thomson would leave Hearts. It subsequently emerged he had gone on loan to Kaunas, who were also owned by Romanov. He played for them until the end of that season in Lithuania, then in the 2012 season played for Suduva.
The ending of Thomson’s contract with Hearts means that he is now officially a free agent, but it appears highly unlikely that another Scottish club will try to sign him. He is scheduled to remain on the sex offenders register for another three years.
Hearts have released a number of players over recent months, among them full-backs Danny Grainger and Fraser Mullen, and midfielder Mehdi Taouil. Last week they signed centre-half Danny Wilson on a permanent deal, after he spent the second half of the season at Tynecastle on loan from Liverpool. Jamie Hamill, signed in May 2011 on a three-year contract, is expected to be the club’s first-choice right-back for the 2013-14 campaign.