IN THE first annual accounts Hearts published after the record £9 million sale of Craig Gordon to Sunderland back in 2007, they revealed their debt had been reduced from £36.25 million to £30.48 million.
Those eye-watering figures were an indication of the financial freefall the Tynecastle club were in, ultimately leading to their insolvency and administration two years ago.
When Gordon reflects now on events at the club he supported as a boy and then served with distinction as a goalkeeper, he cannot help wondering exactly where the money they earned from his sale went.
Perhaps only Vladimir Romanov and his erstwhile colleagues really know the answer to that.
As Gordon prepares for the return of the top-flight fixture between Celtic and Hearts this afternoon, this time on the opposing side to the men in maroon, he has revealed he even donated his share of the transfer fee eight years ago to the Gorgie outfit.
It was a not inconsiderable amount – believed to be a six-figure sum – which Gordon hoped would go towards the youth development arm of Hearts.
“Maybe it did go towards that, maybe it didn’t,” says Gordon. “I’ve no idea. But it would have been nice if a certain percentage of it had managed to filter through.
“I don’t know what happened to my transfer fee. I think it’s long gone, but I’m saying nothing! When I left Hearts, I didn’t take anything with me from the transfer fee or any signing-on fees. I left that with the club. Maybe it would have been better if I had taken it with me so I could put it back in now.
“I waived what I could have taken. I thought that was the right thing to do. The club did well by me. They gave me my chance to come through and showed a great deal of faith in me. They put me on a good contract before I left for Sunderland, which was not long after it.
“I certainly didn’t feel the need to take any more than was necessary. I did say that I would rather leave it to the youth development which had helped me. To put it towards perhaps a few more players coming through.
“When Hearts got into trouble a couple of years ago, I didn’t do very much at all, to be honest. Until things settled down and there was clear road forward, I didn’t do very much at all. It was a difficult time until things looked as if they were heading in the right direction and they were going to get out of it.
“Ann Budge came in and she was the catalyst to that happening. She has done an unbelievable job, setting things up the way that she has. There wasn’t a way forward and it looked as if it wasn’t going to be worthwhile and until that happened there were some pretty dark days.
“We didn’t really know where the club was going to go but, thankfully, it seems to be on the right path now. The club is very stable and there is a huge difference on the park as well.
“I thought at one point it was a possibility the club could have gone. I think it would’ve come back somehow, whatever way, whatever route it had to go down to do that.
“Obviously, the pleasing part is to keep the club as it was, although it had an administration to emerge from. For it still to be the same club with the same history is massive for the fans. They really wanted that to happen and also for it to come out of it all really strong. That is a great credit to everybody, all the fans, everybody who stuck with it. Now they are packing the stadium every other week. They have done very well to come back.
“I’m happy the Celtic-Hearts league fixture is back. It’s a good game, good for the league and good to play in. The fans always make it a great atmosphere and there can be some lively games. So I think everyone is glad it’s back. No matter whether it’s at Celtic Park or Tynecastle, it is a big game.”
Gordon has been impressed by the work his former Hearts team-mate Robbie Neilson has done since taking over as head coach last year.
“I did see Robbie becoming a manager,” said Gordon. “I always felt he had the potential because he’s very good at thinking about the game.
“As a player – he was a good player, never anything special, but always reliable – and in terms of intelligence and knowing the position, knowing his body to get exactly what he needed, he was very clever and very methodical.
“He knew what he had to do to get in the team and play games. He had a very good career.
“Robbie was always very reliable and the position he played that was very important. You knew what he was going to bring. It was a really good defensive unit he was part of and which I played behind.
“I always thought he had the potential to go on to coaching. He’s a clever guy and I think he’s done well since taking on the current role.”