Vladimir Romanov attacks SFA fine as Stephen Elliott joins Hearts

HEARTS owner Vladimir Romanov has broken his silence on the record £60,000 fine his club must pay for its poor disciplinary record in the last year.

• Elliott and Kyle watch Hearts play Blackburn on Saturday

The punishment meted out at the end of last month meant that the Scottish Football Association has hammered the Tynecastle side with financial penalties every season since 2004-05.

Manager Jim Jefferies - who yesterday completed the signing of Preston North End striker Stephen Elliott - vowed there would be no repeat in the new campaign of last year's SPL toll of 10 red cards and 89 cautions.

But Lithuanian businessman Romanov in comments to top Russian football website www.fairfootball.ru declared: "After five years in Scottish football nothing can surprise me any more. They live in a virtual world created by monopolies. It's impossible to come up with any criticism or an initiative. One can somehow exist in that world but it is not for a decent person to live in."

Jefferies yesterday added Republic of Ireland cap Elliott to his squad and revealed he is hopeful of increasing his striking options still further with a permanent move for trialist Jonathan Toto.

Elliott has been snapped up on a two-year deal following his release from Preston where he had been transfer-listed and made to train with the youth team so far this season.

The move resurrects Elliott's partnership with another of the Tynecastle club's summer recruits, Kevin Kyle, following the pair's spell together at Sunderland.

The Irishman's stint at the Stadium of Light proved to be the most fruitful of his career, netting 23 times in 88 following an apprenticeship with Manchester City.

However, after helping to shoot the Black Cats' into the Premiership, injuries struck and has failed to recapture that form in subsequent moves to Wolves and Preston, as well as a loan spell with Norwich City last season.

Elliott, who watched Hearts' friendly against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend following talks with Jefferies, has been capped nine times by his country, scoring his only goal in a World Cup qualifier in October 2005, but he has yet to play under Giovanni Trapattoni.

Jefferies is now relishing the prospect of teaming up Elliott and Kyle again in Gorgie after beating off competition from south of the border for Elliott's signature. He said: "Stephen's a player I have known about for a while and is someone who has proven himself to be a goalscorer wherever he has played. He has an excellent pedigree and has played at the highest level with the Republic of Ireland. I am delighted to have brought him here as there was a lot of interest in him from down south. He has partnered Kevin Kyle up front in his Sunderland days so I'm looking forward to seeing the pair link up again. I have spoken to a number of people in England about him and they have all given me glowing recommendations.

"I think he will do really well here."

Jefferies also reiterated he is keen for the club to make a move for Toto in the wake of the Cameroonian striker's 16-minute appearance in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn. The 20-year-old former Metz apprentice has impressed Jefferies after scoring six goals in three previous friendlies against East of Scotland opposition. "I think there's raw potential there. I'll be recommending that he stays," he said.