Hearts administration: Lithuanian directors sacked

Two Hearts players today agreed to wage cuts to stay at the club. Picture: SNS
Two Hearts players today agreed to wage cuts to stay at the club. Picture: SNS
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HEARTS administrators BDO have acted swiftly to remove the last vestiges of the old regime at Tynecastle.

The club’s three directors – Roman Romanov, Sergejus Fedotovas and Vitalijus Vasiliauskas – have all lost their positions and been removed from the payroll.

Roman Romanov, Vladimir Romanov’s son, has not been seen at Tynecastle for years, but was re-elected as a director at Hearts’ annual general meeting only last month. The motion to give Romanov junior another term in office was unanimously defeated by a show of hands from the floor, but the appointment went through thanks to his father’s block vote.

Fedotovas was last seen in Edinburgh at that meeting, and on Monday sent staff an email thanking them for their

efforts. Vasiliauskas turned up last weekend to sign the club’s application to go into administration, then flew back to Lithuania the following day without telling staff what he had done.

Julija Goncaruk, Romanov senior’s niece, resigned as a director earlier this year before the depth of Hearts’ financial problems had become apparent, However, it is thought that she still has nominal control of 15 per cent of the shares in the club through her ownership of Quantum, a company registered in Switzerland.

It is common for directors to lose their posts when a company goes into administration, but not automatic. Dundee, for example, did not have a total clearout. But Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch of BDO have quickly recognised that the continued presence of the Hearts board would be counteractive. BDO’s aim is to raise sufficient funds to keep Hearts afloat during the time period they expect will elapse before new owners can be found, and they were convinced that many Hearts supporters would refuse to dig any deeper into their pockets while the old Romanov appointees remained.

The 14 redundancies announced by BDO on Thursday also included several Romanov appointees, though the administrators have been at pains to point out that the nationality of those staff members was irrelevant. It was the role carried out by staff that determined whether they stayed or left.

Janet Smirnova, for example, was personal assistant to the board of directors. When the board has gone, there is no need for an assistant. Konstantin Kornakov, who had been with the club since 2007, was also made redundant. Initially employed as football administrator, he was promoted at the start of last year to be head of football administration.

Although pre-season friendlies are not too far away – and manager Gary Locke said yesterday that he was confident the fixtures already announced would be honoured – there is at present no football to administer. In addition Kornakov, who is said to be fluent in English, Russian and Spanish, had a less formal remit than his title implied, as he was a point of contact between the football side of the club on the one hand, and Romanov and his board on the other. Kornakov sat on the bench during matches, to the displeasure of at least one manager who had to work with him.

One of the stadium maintenance workers who lost their job is also understood to be Lithuanian, but the rest of the backroom staff who were made redundant are thought to be Scottish.

Of the staff who remain, the highest ranking is managing director David Southern, who has been with the club since close to the start of Romanov’s reign in 2005. One of the first members of staff to meet the administrators when they took charge at Tynecastle on Wednesday afternoon, Southern had to explain the staffing levels and functions to them.