Fedotovas: The Old Firm won't get Hearts players on the cheap

SERGEJUS FEDOTOVAS today stressed Hearts' determination to secure maximum value for any departing player and admitted Old Firm clubs seeking to plunder the Tynecastle squad can expect to pay a premium price.

The Lithuanian, a director of both Hearts and their parent company Ukio Bankas Investment Group, spoke exclusively to the Evening News following Rangers' offer of around 300,000 for defender Lee Wallace. The Hearts board rejected that advance but the Glasgow club are expected to return with an improved bid.

Although keen to keep the Scotland internationalist, the Tynecastle hierarchy would consider doing business if Rangers meet their 1million-plus valuation. Fedotovas, pictured below, explained that Hearts may hold out for slightly higher fees if the prospective buyer is an Old Firm club rather than a team outwith Scotland.

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"I would say that, to a certain extent, it is a factor when you sell a player but you sell to your direct competitor. I think this factor needs to come into the price," said Fedotovas. "Once you sell a player outside your own competition, he is not featuring against you. You get a fee and you expect your competitors to get other players. Whether they are better or worse than your player is a gamble.

"In Lee Wallace's case, he is an absolutely outstanding player and he will go and strengthen your competitor's team. This is just something to consider.

"If we would be discussing any transfer deals, we would be looking for an appropriate valuation. Especially if we are speaking about international players, players brought through by Hearts for a long time and who have really reached high value and high rating with the club.

"We are really looking forward to next season because we are playing in Europe and we will be looking to improve our results, so we will need our best players. If we are to speak about some of them leaving, we will need to await the benefits of receiving transfer fees instead of rejecting the services of these players and allowing them to play for other clubs. There is nothing different, this is business as usual. Nothing changes."

Wallace is a product of the Hearts youth academy who made his first-team debut at the age of 17 in 2005. His contract is due to expire in 12 months' time but club officials are keen to negotiate an extension for a player who now has five full international caps for Scotland. Injuries hindered him last season but he is due to fly to Italy with the first-team squad this weekend for a week of intense pre-season training.

"Lee had injuries last season and didn't play for us in a lot of games but we looked after him. We don't have any doubts that he will be a great player next season," continued Fedotovas. "We are looking to discuss an extension but first we need to put some things in order just now as we prepare for the new season. Then it will be time to get some contracts tidied up."

Arrivals and exits have been plentiful at Riccarton since the end of season 2010/11. Ruben Palazuelos, Ismael Bouzid, Jamie Mole and several youth players have been released at the end of their contracts, whilst John Sutton, Jamie Hamill, Danny Grainger and Mehdi Taouil have all been signed as free agents.

Avoiding paying transfer fees this summer has brought real satisfaction to the board. "This was our strategy and I think we are in a position where we can attract good talent on good terms for the players," said Fedotovas. "I think this is attractive for them and I believe Hearts is a really attractive club to play for. We are using our position and we will be working further with this."

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With the transfer window remaining open for the next two months, Hearts fully intend luring more new signings to Edinburgh. Next season they will be competing on four fronts - the Europa League, the SPL, Scottish Cup and League Cup.

Asked if extra new recruits are likely, Fedotovas said: "Yes definitely. We are looking at a couple of options at the moment. Again, if there will be a change in the team subject to any transfers out of the club, then it will be something for us to look at. We must ensure that the depth of the squad is comfortable looking forward to the competitions we are going to be playing in."

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