Vladimir Romanov asks fans to help pay basketball team’s wages

Vladimir Romanov says he may have to sell Zalgiris players. Picture: SNS
Vladimir Romanov says he may have to sell Zalgiris players. Picture: SNS
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AS HEARTS supporters continue to dig deep financially to ensure the survival of their club, it emerged last night that majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov has also asked fans of his basketball team in Lithuania to help pay players’ wages.

Romanov, who took control of Hearts in 2005, has owned Zalgiris basketball team, based in Kaunas, since saving them from bankruptcy in 2009, and despite a flying start to their season, the Russian-born businessman has made a public plea to supporters to help the club out of financial problems – which bears striking similarities to the plea to Hearts fans which was posted on the club website last month.

Romanov sent a letter to Kauno Diena, a newspaper he owns, and a translated version of the text was posted on lithuaniabasketball.com last night.

It read: “It is very pleasing that Žalgiris finished first in Group C of Euroleague and has a genuine chance of winning the title. However, that will require having funds to pay the salaries and bonuses of the players.

“Everyone is openly declaring love for Žalgiris with promises of sponsoring the team, but no-one is actually helping. Hence, there is only one way to tackle the financial problems – every Zalgiris fan could invest at least 100 litas [29 euros]. Otherwise, we will have to resort to selling players and pulling out of the race for the highest places.”

The deadline for Hearts supporters to purchase shares in the club expires today. An estimated £900,000 has so far been raised by the scheme.

Meanwhile, midfielder Scott Robinson returned to training yesterday after apologising to manager John McGlynn. The 20-year-old refused to be named as a substitute for the Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Aberdeen earlier this month.

However, Robinson met with senior officials yesterday to clear the air and, according to the club, the matter is now closed. McGlynn told Hearts News: “I met Scott yesterday and he was very apologetic for his actions. I was extremely unhappy with him and he knows he was in the wrong. The matter has been dealt with internally, the details of which will remain private. Scott is now back training with the first team and we all now move on.”

Robinson said: “The whole situation was regrettable and I have apologised to the manager for what happened. I just want to concentrate on my football now, work hard in training and try to prove to the gaffer that I am worth my place in the squad as we have a lot of important games coming up.”