A BIG-HEARTED Hearts fan bid more than £500 for a club flag which is hung from the ceiling of a well-known Jambos pub – only to immediately gift it back to stunned locals.
Hearts-mad landlord Salman Sarwar, 29, who owns the Brauhaus bar on Lauriston Place, put the precious standard up for auction after deciding that desperate times called for desperate measures.
But he was shocked when the successful bidder – US-based expat Alistair Dobbie – said the popular bar was to keep the item he’d won as he was just pleased to help.
The banner – which shows former talisman Rudi Skacel lifting the Scottish Cup after defeating Hibs and is signed by the Czech star – will now remain hanging above the main bar for everyone to see.
Mr Dobbie jokingly told the bar: “Anyone that looks at the flag has to pay a quid to Hearts!”
Mr Sarwar, who has been attending Hearts matches for 15 years, was overwhelmed by the generous gesture – made during an online auction.
He said: “The flag is basically our pride and joy in the bar. We’ve had loads of people in before asking to buy it and making offers, but we’ve never sold it.”
The canny publican said he knew it “was the one thing that . . . would generate cash straight away for the club, so we decided to put it up for sale”.
He added: “We were over the moon that the buyer decided to let us keep it.”
The flag was specially commissioned by the Brauhaus, with Skacel signing it while attending a fundraiser linked to the issue of shares in November last year.
The symbolic treasure is only taken down for big games and has been taken to Prague, Liverpool and even Easter Road for major Hearts clashes. As of last night more than 1200 season tickets had been sold as fans continued their effort to save the club from liquidation.
Administrators BDO have said a target of 3000 must be met by July 4 to stop Hearts going into liquidation.
Mr Sarwar predicted this would be the final time supporters would be called on to bail out the club, and added: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel – we feel this is almost a new start.”
He also revealed all money taken for Czech beer sales at the Brauhaus between now and Sunday will be donated to the club.