Romanov gives pervert player a second chance

CONVICTED sex offender Craig Thomson has been moved from Hearts to Lithuanian club FBK Kaunas, prompting an angry reaction from fans.

• Craig Thomson will swap Hearts for Kaunas

Hearts boss Vladimir Romanov is reported to have signed the defender for his own club in Lithuania so that he can continue his career.

Today, children's charities said Thomson needs to be monitored regardless of where he is in the world.

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Hearts fans reacted furiously to the news, saying the decision was "pathetic", "horrific" and "appalling".

The 20-year-old was put on the sex offenders' register in June after admitting to explicit internet chats with two underage girls.

Hearts faced widespread criticism when they initially refused to sack him over the scandal, but public outrage led them to eventually letting the player go.

It is believed that he has been signed to FBK Kaunas until at least November, where he will wear the number 46 yellow and green shirt.

A statement on the club's website said: "Our team has added right defender Craig Thomson.

"The new signing will be the first player from Scotland in Lithuania."

Thomson was convicted of lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour towards two girls aged 12 and 14 on Facebook.

He was fined 4000 and placed on the sex offenders' register for five years.

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Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, said: "It is important that those placed on the sex offenders' register are monitored effectively, regardless of the country they live in.

"We would also hope that he receives support and treatment that could help to prevent any reoffending and help to protect children and young people he may come into contact with."

Popular Hearts forum, Jambos Kickback, today saw mixed reaction from its users.

One contributor, called djf, said: "Pathetic. Horrific decision and reflects incredibly badly on our club and the management making these decisions."

But another contributor, Auld Reekin', added: "Not surprised in the least about this: for better or for worse, something of this sort was always on the cards after the evasive and equivocal response from the Hearts board over this whole situation."

And another said: "Well done Vlad. Would have been easy just to cut the kid loose."This way he gets a chance to grow up and sort himself out - hope he takes the chance given and does just that."

It is understood that Hearts manager Jim Jefferies had been against Thomson returning to the Jambos squad since the news broke.

Romanov's Ukio Bankas Investment Group finances both Hearts and Kaunas, and the UBIG board is hopeful that Thomson can revive his career in eastern Europe, away from the furore that still exists in Scotland due to his criminal offences.

It is unclear whether UBIG intends for the 20-year-old to return to Hearts after his stay in Lithuania finishes.

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