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Payday mayday at Hearts

Chick Young | 17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The coughing and wheezing you hear from Tynecastle isn't, apparently, the patient in the throes of distress.

And for sure it's not the players' pay-packets which are choking with money.

It's just Vladimir Romanov clearing his throat to pronounce another fantastical declaration of intent.

heartsceleb438.jpgIt's a fact that alarm bells ring and warning lights trigger much earlier when you hear about a crack in the Heart of Midlothian enamel than they would at just about any other club in the land.

If they had any sense Lothian and Borders police would wrap some of that blue and white tape marked "accident waiting to happen" around the Gorgie Road.

Just when you thought it was safe to praise their return to the straight and narrow of football sanity, the Lithuanian sorcerer does it again.

The players were already aware that their wages were blowing in hyperspace, now the club's staff has been told that their monthly salaries are out there somewhere, although not actually in the safe haven of their accounts.

It was left to director Sergejus Fedotovas to fly in from Lithuania and attempt to spread peace and calm by claiming that an administrative coupon buster had put the money into the wrong account.

So that will be all right then. Except, aren't Hearts owned by a bank? In fact the very financial institution which arranges the wage packets?

And what can go wrong in any case? Ukio Bankas's profit rose 40% during the first eight months of this year - around $20m.

Mind you, some financial analysts insist that their credit risks have increased over the last year. You pays your money and you takes your choice...

Either way, Hearts are way down their owner's priority list.

In the short term maybe it will be all right. Probably, in fact.

But when you are employed by a company who are £36m in debt and who don't have a queue of sugar daddies queuing at the front door to woo them away from this madness, you could be excused for going into a cold sweat when you check your account at the local hole in the wall and find that you have been working for the square root of zilch.

It strikes me that Vladimir Romanov has grown weary of his Scottish plaything and is now very much the absentee landlord. Kaunus, I suspect, are the favourite toy in his cupboard now.

The debt must be increasing by the day.

They have a list of players like Makela and Beslija who are still being drip fed money - or possibly not if they are like others on the payroll - who have disappeared without trace.

Frankly, given the debt, they are un-buyable except by a Middle Eastern sheikh with a financial death wish.

How can a club spokesman rant about employees being "relaxed and happy with the situation" as their wages float about in a parallel universe?

If the BBC bodyswerved my pay day I'd have blokes in balaclavas and crowbars battering at the wages department door. "Relaxed and happy?" Who's the club spokesman, Pinocchio?

Csaba Laszlo looks like he might have some sort of idea how the game has been played and I applaud the club's return to the business end of the SPL from where they should never have drifted.

But the biggest threat to his progress may yet again come from within, just as it has done for three-and-a-half weary years.


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