Craig Thomson row rages on as defender goes on loan to Kaunas

HEARTS owner Vladimir Romanov awoke to one storm and by the end of the day he had created another.

Hours before he removed Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown from their management posts, Romanov came under fresh fire over the handling of player Craig Thomson, after it emerged the defender had been offered a second chance with another of the banker's clubs.

Thomson has gone on loan to Lithuanian outfit FBK Kaunas until the end of the club's season in November, despite being put on the sex offenders register for sending explicit messages to underage girls over the internet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The move has emerged weeks after it was announced that Thomson was leaving Tynecastle - despite the Hearts board initially statintg that they would be standing by the player. Hearts came under huge pressure from fans and sponsors after insisting there were "mitigating circumstances" surrounding Thomson's case and attacking a "mafia" it claimed was undermining the club.

But after children's charities demanding the sacking of the 20-year-old, Thomson was later suspended and, on 10 July, it emerged that he was leaving the club. Then manager Jefferies had earlier admitted that we would have found it difficult to put the player in his team again, claiming there was a risk of his presence becoming a "sideshow", and adding: "It's not an ideal situation."

However, there has been mounting speculation Thomson - who has been placed on the sex offenders' register for five years - would secure a loan deal with either FBK Kaunas or Belarus outfit MTZ-Ripo.

A statement on Kaunas' website said: "Our team has added right defender Craig Thomson. The new signing will be the first player from Scotland in Lithuania.

"Thomson is owned by Kaunas until the end of the season. He will wear the number 46 jersey."

Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, who led calls for Thomson to be sacked by Hearts, 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." However independent social work consultant Maggie Mellon said: "The way this case has been handled both by Hearts, and by those calling for draconian penalties for Craig Thomson, represents a missed opportunity for Hearts and for those calling for zero tolerance.

"Hearts tried to ignore it and then to shuffle him off quietly.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The zero tolerance lobby in turn completely failed to offer a positive and proportionate response informed by best practice in this area of work.

"The term sex offender is now used to cover a very wide range of offences - and has become almost synonymous with 'monster' and 'paedophile'. "This is completely wrong and generates a hysteria that creates a more dangerous environment for children and young people."spare page