Hearts 'saddened' by death of former chief executive Chris Robinson

Former Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson has died the club have confirmed.

Robinson became a key figure at Tynecastle Park when he and Leslie Deans bought Wallace Mercer’s shares in 1994.

He would go on to become majority shareholder and chief executive across a turbulent 11-year period for the club in which they won the Scottish Cup in 1998 but also racked up huge debts.

Hearts paid tribute to Robinson on social media.

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"The club is saddened to learn of the passing of former chairman and chief executive, Chris Robinson,” a post from the club read.

"Everyone at Hearts’ thoughts are with Chris’ wife Elizabeth and their family at this time.”

Robinson, a successful businessman in catering, was a controversial figure amongst Hearts fans. The club’s debt reached nearly £20million during his time in charge.

Having deemed the club's Tynecastle Park home “not fit for purpose”, he oversaw plans to sell the ground to housing developer Cala Homes. The proposed sale was for around £22million which would help pay the debt owed to the Bank of Scotland. In turn the club would move to Murrayfield and rent the home of Scottish Rugby for home fixtures while assessing possible options for a new stadium.

Former Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson has died. Picture: SNSFormer Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson has died. Picture: SNS
Former Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson has died. Picture: SNS

“The stadium won't work for the club going forward," he told the BBC. “I won’t rehearse all of the reasons why but I think everybody now accepts it and even those who look at other options. None of those options now include Tynecastle.”

During his time at the helm, the ground was renamed Tynecastle Stadium and significantly redeveloped.

‘Lingering death of the club’

Robinson became the focus of supporters’ ire with protests regularly held before, during and after matches with the Save Our Hearts group coming to prominence as they sought to keep the club at its home.

"It would have been the slow lingering death of our club," Derek Watson of the Hearts Supporters Trust said regarding the move to Murrayfield.

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Tynecastle Park was saved from being demolished when Robinson sold his shares in the club to Russian-born Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov in 2004 with the deal being completed in 2005.

“If you’ve got very, very deep pockets you can virtually do anything and stay at Tynecastle,” Robinson said in the summer of 2005. “I think even the new owners in the years ahead will be looking as to where the future is. We’re staying at Tynecastle now and that’s their decision and I applaud that, because bringing Tynecastle into the state that it is today was a major achievement in its time. I have a belief that the club at some stage in the future has to think out the box and see how it can move forward, but that’s no longer my decision."

Robinson was a key player in the Scottish Media Group’s £8million investment in the club in 1999. Half of the money was used to give the company a 20 per cent stake in the club with the other half in the form of a convertible loan.

The club's former chief also infamously appeared at the side of the Ibrox pitch during a Rangers v Hearts clash in 1996 calling for the team’s players to walk off in protest following four red cards. The team remained on the park, losing 3-0.

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