Former Hearts goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie has told the club’s supporters to pray that Angelo Massone fails with his takeover attempt, insisting the Italian is a “million times worse’ than Vladimir Romanov”.
The retired goalkeeper pulls no punches after working under Massone for 12 months at Livingston until the lawyer eventually led the Lions into administration in summer 2009.
During that period, McKenzie – who plied his trade at Tynecastle for ten years until 2003 – suffered countless wages problems that left the stricken players considering unprecedented strike action.
He has also revealed how “bully” Massone tried to get the players to sign a document that played down the much-publicised behind-the-scenes problems.
Massone’ group is one of three to have submitted bids for administration-hit Hearts and McKenzie is dumbfounded that he is eyeing a return to Scottish football following a disastrous spell at the West Lothian club.
McKenzie said: “He was like a bully. If people thought former Hearts owner Romanov was bad, then this guy is a million times worse.
“Any Hearts person that gets sucked in with what he says has got to be very careful. I say he is a bully because I witnessed what went on. Certain things happened and they wanted players to sign things to say that there had not been a problem at the club.
“A lot of the older players didn’t sign it. He wanted us to come out and say everything was all right but a lot of the older players said ‘no’.
“We had problems with not getting paid and all that sort of stuff. I think he just thought that he could do what he wanted and people would just roll over really.
“There was a group of us, we were not young players, we were just standing up for our rights and wanted paid on time. We wanted information from the board but it was just like, ‘no, no there is no problem, we’ll pay you when we want’.
“It’s not any different to what Hearts have been going through. If he is going to throw about figures of money that he’s got, I would take that with a pinch of salt.”
McKenzie was the squad’s PFA Scotland representative at the time and recalls how the players were just hours away from taking industrial action due to the wages fiasco.
McKenzie added: “As players there is only so much you can do. We decided we were not going to play a couple of times and then all of a sudden on Friday at 4pm the money was paid into the bank because they knew they needed the money from a home game the following day.
“That was the only thing we had in our power, to say ‘we’re not playing’. That does not look good because you want to try and play the games and it didn’t help anyone.
“But as players you’re powerless when you have a chairman who just wants to dictate.
“I don’t even know what he was doing there. I didn’t see the big picture.”
Massone’s bid to takeover Hearts might not get off the ground after it emerged he could struggle to pass the Scottish Football Association’s “fit and proper” person test and McKenzie has called on the authorities to intervene.
He added: “I would definitely hope the SFA step in and really scrutinise this guy and everything he is bringing to the table.
“You cannot have another guy like that in Scottish football. It was an absolute disgrace what he did to Livingston and people like that should not be allowed into football.
“We felt we didn’t get a lot of backing from the league. They just sat back. They don’t listen to players’ opinions about paying their bills late.
“They have to step up and say we want fit and proper people to run the clubs. That was only four years ago that he was involved in Scottish football. He’s not going to change.”
The Scotsman attempted to contact Massone yesterday but he was unavailable for comment.