Football: Hearts deny talk of Romanov exit

The board of Scottish Premier League side Hearts insisted Tuesday it knew nothing of suggestions Lithuanian owner Vladimir Romanov had relinquished control of the Edinburgh club.

Reports in the Scottish media on Monday said Romanov had resigned from the board of UBIG, the company which controls Hearts, following the suspension in trading of Ukio Bankas, in which Romanov was the majority shareholder before the bank went into administration.

However, Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas, who also quit the UBIG board, said Tuesday that Romanov, who is not a Hearts director, was still in control of affairs at Tynecastle.

But his assurances may not carry much weight with Hearts fans who, as recently as December, were cajoled into raising more than £1 million to help pay tax debts that staved off a winding-up order.

Fedotovas, in a statement on the Hearts website, said: "Despite recent changes to the board at UBIG, the board structure at Heart of Midlothian remains unchanged. The information Mr Vladimir Romanov has relinquished his control of Hearts is pure speculation and we do not have any information to that effect.

"Changes at UBIG board do not reflect any changes in the holding structure of Mr Romanov's ownership.

"I would like to reassure supporters of the club that the board of Hearts' focus is entirely on this club and continuing the work that has allowed us to be within touching distance of having a self-sustainable business.

"This then allows us to truly develop the club both on and off the field in the seasons ahead. It is a work in progress at the moment but we are satisfied with the progress being made.

"It is also right to acknowledge that one of the principal reasons for us being unaffected at this stage by events in Lithuania is the excellent support that the fans and staff have provided to the club.

"With this continued support and ongoing diligence by the club's board of directors we believe that there is no threat to Hearts."

The Jambos also issued a statement of their own later Tuesday denying they'd told staff the club was on the brink of going into administration.

"The club can categorically state there was no such meeting and no such message imparted to staff."