I hate Vladimir Romanov. I really do. I can't abide his smug
self-satisfaction, his borderline insane ranting and his misplaced arrogance
(for those readers not fans of football and not from Edinburgh - which is
probably all of you - this post is largely me getting things off my chest,
so just ignore it and go and read the Perry Bible Fellowship
I also ha...well no, not hate...but get really annoyed with Hearts' fans who
think that a good answer to any criticism of Romanov is to say the single
word 'believe', as though being thick and not considering what's going on is
a positive thing and actual facts are something to be discarded if
they contradict established dogma. That's it actually - there's a new a
bloody religion in Gorgie nowadays, with Romanov as God and his 'Gareth from
the Office-a-like' son, Roman as a particularly awkward looking Christ.
Those who have faith, no matter what madness may pour from the mouth of the
new God, will be rewarded by cups and leagues, multi-million pound transfers
and 60,000 seater stadiums and, one day, the Paradise of a UEFA Champions
League triumph. Personally I suspect that, just like a real religion, the
really big rewards will only come after we're all dead and we can't check.
Also like certain real religions the articles of faith don't stand up under even
the most cursory of examinations. Let's have a look at a few of the main
tenets of the Church of Mindless Believing.
1. "Without Romanov we'd have had to leave Tynecastle
Well maybe (although who's to say someone wouldn't have come in at the last
minute?). But so what? I love the place and it's a wonderful ground full
of memories, but we'd still be Hearts playing somewhere else. Places that
were important to me in my life have disappeared as I've grown older - the
first flat I remember living in was knocked down years ago, Goldbergs
converted into some kind of derelict building in the 80s and the scruffy
little underground Virgin record shop in Prices Street full of racks of odd 12 inches and blue vinyl imports became a crap Megastore full of rubbish cds at about the same time. Things change, and you don't sell everything you have that's worth having for nostalgia's sake.
2. "He's written off £ 2 million pounds of the debt
Two things here - (1) he bought the SMG debt at half-price reportedly,
thereby accounting for the £2 million straight-away and (2) the reported 2
mill was interest owed by Hearts (a company he owned 80% of at the time) to
UKIO Bankas (a company he owned a third of).
Simple economics suggests that writing off the money was a good deal for him.
3. "Romanov brought top quality players to the club
Not in any meaningful way he hasn't. Lots of average to poor Lithuanians
who wouldn't have gotten a game under Levein, Jefferies or MacDonald, plus
some decentish players who we could have signed at any time. Not that we've
signed many of them since most of them are Kaunus signings loaned to Hearts
and therefore won't make us a penny if they get sold for a profit, but will
make Kaunus (with amore generous income tax regime I suspect) a pretty
penny. It's just a shame most of the incoming players have been rubbish.
The main exceptions have been Rudi Skacel (signed by George Burley and
walked out on the club due to Romanov), Julian Brellier (signed by George
Burley and constantly being dropped in spite of being better than Zaliukas,
the Lithuanian who currently has his post) and Jose Goncalves (admittedly
signed by Romanov, but only on loan from Kaunus anyway). There are a couple
of others who have been half way decent - Bednar, Popsisil, Fyssas - all
strangely enough signed by George Burley. Ranked against this handful of
realtive class, we have Romanov signings like Ibrahim Tall (ignored by three
successive managers because he was rubbish and only picked once Valdas
Ivanauskus, Romanov's manager on a leash, took over); Saulius Mikolaunus, a
player every Hearts fan can see is basically shit and with a petulant temper to
boot, but who is *never* dropped, and Zaliukas who couldn't look less like a
proper footballer if he wore a tutu on the pitch.
4. "We won the cup and got into the Champions League because of Romanov
Well we did do both of those things but in spite of rather than because of
Romanov. We got second last year because George Burley got us off to a
blistering start before being sacked by the Great Egoist and because Rangers
were truly awful (and even so threw away a double figure lead over the Hun
to hold onto second by a single point). We won the cup because other teams
put out the Old Firm and because we had to play Gretna
, who had fortuitously
avoided playing a single SPL side on the way to the final, at Hampden. And
even then we nearly didn't win.
I'd rather see us skint and playing out of Saughton Enclosure than continue
to see my club embarrassed by the actions of an arse like Romanov.
Yesterday's derby shame where we dropped good players to replace them with
useless Lithuanians just because the game was going live on Lithuanian TV
was another nail in the coffin (and yes, I know that one of the Lithuanians
scored our two goals but both were gifts from the Hibs goalie and the
goalscorer did sod all else all match).
believe and I haven't done for a long time - and in the eyes of
many Hearts' supporters I suspect that makes me a heretic at best and an
atheist at worst, either way fit only for excommunication. I can't say I
care about that but I do wonder and worry if enough Hearts' fans will
recognise that Romanov is a false idol before it's too late.
That's a rhetorical question obviously - I know that it's already too late
and has been for a long time.