BBC BLOGS - Jim Spence
« Previous | Main | Next »

Is Vlad still the King of Hearts?

Post categories:

BBC Sport blog editor | 16:42 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Could Hearts be set to become a force in the land again ?

In their dismantling of Hibs in last Saturday's derby they looked like a team with real purpose and passion, and Tynecastle was a rollicking place to be as the Gorgie faithful rocked the casbah.

Vladimir Romanov's position though continues to baffle me. If you're a Hearts fan does it confuse you?

Having broken the original story about his interest in Scottish football when he looked at buying Dundee United, I've lapped up the drama he's brought to the Scottish game and his willingness to confront the powers that be.

Bringing back club legends Jim Jeffries and Billy Brown was a masterstroke which I think will pay dividends.

But Romanovs's failure to, as promised, challenge the Old Firm, coupled with plans to scale back on the new stand and indications that he would welcome new investors, make me wonder whether he still has the fire in his belly which seemed evident in his early days at Hearts.

If you're a Jam Tart do you think he still smoulders with passion for the club?

I hope it still burns fiercely, because a packed Tynie and a swashbuckling side like the one that Jeffries fielded against Hibs, make the Gorgie venue the most stirring place to watch football in Scotland.

But does the Hearts owner still believe his own early promises and is he still willing to make the Jambos a real power in the land to challenge the hegemony of the Glasgow pair?

His personal wealth may have taken a battering in the recent financial turmoil but big wages are still being paid at Tynecastle and he remains a very rich man.

So what are his plans for Hearts? As Hearts fans what do you think they should be?

Were the original promises about challenging the Old Firm and Championship league participation pie in the sky?

Has he aimed for the stars and fallen to the Moon or are his ambitions now much more down to Earth?

God loves a trier but football fans love dreamers even more, I wish Vlad would tell us if he still dreams the dream or if reality has dawned on his once burning ambitions.

Many of us who were not fans of the Old Firm - and indeed not fans of Hearts - were enthused by his vision if somewhat sceptical of the chances of its success.

For dreamers like me and others it would be good to know whether the Romanov revolution can gather steam again or whether it has run out of fuel.


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.


    While I usually enjoy your blog, I can't help but notice you have been mainly dining out on SPL and international football.

    What happened to this unique perspective on the Scottish game you were meant to be offering us? Barely a mention of the lower leagues, which is particularly surprising given how exciting the 1st division is this year.

  • Comment number 3.

    Kind of agree with Darren despite being in a state of euphoria following United's great win over Rangers last night. It might be good for a change to take a peek at what happens in the lower leagues. Even the events at Dens Park present an interesting story right now; particularly with the departure (yet again) of their erstwhile talisman Jocky Scott and the manner in which they seem to be contriving to throw away promotion to the SPL. Nervy or what? As a former junior footballer myself (and a long-time member of the Craigmore Street team that played Dunmore on the Hillocks every so often - remenber that Jim?), it would also be cool from time to time to have some focus on the Junior scene in Scotland.
    Of course, you have to report (and I guess even blog) on topics that are current, so I understand the dilemma. Despite my point; good blog on Romanov. Mowbray gone before the end of the season?

  • Comment number 4.

    All this stuff about Romanov "welcoming investment". This came out of an open fan's forum - broadcast live to hearts fans and now available online.

    The question was asked if Romanov would welcome someone else coming in to the club and the answer from his righthand man at Hearts was he's not looking for investment but anything can be considered. It was a very non-committal reply (of the type any club owner would give to such a leading question) as you know Jim - yet it's being reported as if Romanov is actively looking for investors. Most misleading once again from the media in Scotland.

    It's also unfair to say Romanov failed to challenge the OF. Hearts split the OF in his first season. OK, long-term he's obviously failed at that but in that season he did provide a model for how to challenge the OF - get a good manager in, up investment in wages (still not near OF wages but enough to close the gap in quality significantly), hold on to good young players for a little longer to see what they can achieve and sell them later for more money (Hibernian take note), and most of all be bold and stand up the OF's bullying tactics on and off the field.

    OK. Romanov is also a bit mad, but he deserves kudos for standing up to the establishment in Scottish football (and getting fined ridiculous amounts for his trouble!).

    As for the stand, it is very sensible to scale back what was a very ambitious project even in better financial times. In today's financial climate it's obviously a non-starter. Again - a sensible decision. Most Hearts fans would be worried if he fired ahead with those plans putting the club in even deeper debt.

    As Jim says though it doesn't hurt to dream.

  • Comment number 5.

    Interesting to see a post on Romanov that is not negative. The usual nonsese that you hear from the scottish media. Romanov is still involved with Hearts on a day to day basis. This has been confirmed by his representatives at the recent q&a at tynie.

    Does he still have the same passion and fire in his belly as he did when he started? I am not so sure. I beleive that a combination of negative (sometimes almost racist) media reporting, poor(bias?) refereeing and abuse he has received from Hearts fans, has somewhat dampened his enthusiasm for Scottish football. Although i still beleive that he wants the best for Hearts, i can't help but think he has totally changed his ideas for how to proceed.

    The last couple of years has seen a different Vlad. No longer so involved in things that he shouldnt be involved in. ie team selection. He has made some very good decisions over the last few years tho. The appointment and subsequent removal of Csaba. The removal of several high earning players is also a positive. He has also fought to ensure that our talented youngsters and rewarded with new longer contracts, which is ecouraging as these players and the future of Hearts. Hopefully earning us a nice bit of cash when they move on.

    The life of a Jambo has been a rollercoaster over the last five years, don''t expect things to change in the future. I firmly believe that Romanov has HEarts interests at Heart. Why? Because i can not see him making a profit any other way!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Jim - to answer your question about what Romanov promised and what he delivered.

    Did he really promise to win in Europe or was he just talking big? Surely there's a difference between promising something and stating an ambition.

    I was under the impression Romanov's *aim* was to challenge in Scotland and then Europe within 5 years or something ridiculous like that. I don't think this constitutes a *promise*.

    Is this now just like how all managers talk big at the start of the season - see Yogi Hughes on finishing 3rd or splitting the OF - and then go quiet when things don't pan out the way they would like it to?

    The biggest contribution I believe Romanov has made to Hearts and Scottish football is the way he refused to sell players to the OF for peanuts. After he stood up to ridiculous bids for the likes of Hartley, Gordon and Webster, not to mention refusing to put up with their tapping up tactics (through media lackeys, Scotland get togethers and the rest), it was noticeable that other club owners followed his lead. Hibs in particular held out for more with Brown and Thomson and later Fletcher, as did Kilmarnock with Naismith, and Motherwell with a couple of players I think.

    Romanov led the way in Scotland in this regard and it was very refreshing. Under Robinson, Gordon would have gone for the first £2m offer, Hartley would have gone to Celtic for their first 300,000 offer and so on. Driver and Wallace would have been long gone by now.

  • Comment number 7.

    All new owners and chairmen aim high when taking over a club. He was right to say that challenging the Old Firm and making the Champions League were targets because outwith that you'd be saying your aim was the battle for 3rd or even top 6, which doesn't exactly get a feel-good factor going round the place or even bums on seats. That has to be the aim of 4 or 5 SPL teams even with the gulf.

    He's had his moments of genius and madness and came at a time when fans felt the club needed 'saving'. I think there's a better balance at the minute rather than previous meddling or even a disinterested/want-out stance.

  • Comment number 8.

    "His personal wealth may have taken a battering in the recent financial turmoil but big wages are still being paid at Tynecastle and he remains a very rich man." - Sounds a bit like David Murray?

    Perhaps we should wait for the Hearts 2009 accounts before commenting further on the Romanov revolution, but then again, they were due on the 31st of January and still have not be filed.

  • Comment number 9.

    Totally agree with 2 and 3 Jim, can we have more blogs on the lower leagues and juniors and ' AGAIN ' the total lack of coverage by the BBC of the lower leagues that Uncle Jim I keep asking you to use your influence to change :) Go on just for the other 30 clubs that have fans that are equally important as the SPL fans.

  • Comment number 10.

    Jim is obviously coming to terms with his first derby and now has his own dreamy appreciation for the old Maroons. But yeah, the poetic justice of Dundee drawing with QOS. As a Hearts fan, I just ignore Vlad these days. Only take notice when he is shutting up shop. Other than that, leave him in the East.+

  • Comment number 11.

    I still have no doubt that Mr Romonov is the right chairman for Hearts.

    I detest how the media, BBC Scotland included, have treated him since he arrived. The media have tried to discredit him on many occasions but have as yet failed to do so. The media pounce on everything he says and then twist it for their own agenda.

    He did not say he wants to sell Hearts he said he would welcome investment. I do not know of any chairman that would not welcome investment. Once again BBC Scotland blows this story out of all proportion.

    He has kept us at Tynecastle, won us the Scottish Cup, split the OF and proved that he is in this for the long term.

    He has made many mistakes, what chairman hasn't, but he will bring Hearts success again.

    The debt is owed to himself so I do not see the problem unless you talk to a Hibs economist who always has the answers...NOT.

    If he wasn't interested he would have been away a long time ago, but he is still here much to the annoyance of the media.

    Please move onto another story as this one has become incredibally boring!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I should have added that the heading King of Hearts is wrong.

    There are only 2 Kings of Hearts:

    Willie Bauld and
    John Robertson!

  • Comment number 13.

    Jim - I think Romanov taking a bit of a 'back seat' compared to the early days will be beneficial to the club. Giving somebody like JJ the chance to work with a good squad of players, torn apart by injuries this season, bodes well for the future. Cutting back on the main stand, getting new investors in isn't worrying, I'm sure all clubs would welcome fresh investment at this time, and as for the main stand, the first plan was too ambitious, but the cut-back plan is better for us in the long run, and if we do move forward, which looking at the results from last night, is possible in the near future, then more can be built.

    The further Vlad is away, the better, and as long as he is still willing to pay higher wages than the rest of the non-old firm can offer, then they are catchable. He is no longer meddling, but I still feel that he wants to succeed, and having thrown a lot of money into the club, he isn't just going to give up on that investment.

  • Comment number 14.

    Were the original promises about challenging the Old Firm and Championship league participation pie in the sky?

    He did challenge the Old Firm and we did briefly have Champion's League football...we also have a couple of wouldbe World Cup stars in Kingston, Bouzid and Goncalves, but basically he hasn't delivered anything except his iron fist - down on anyone who disagreed with him- Burley,Pressley, Hartley, Csaba et al.

    Ok, we won the Scottish Cup - only our second trophy in 40 odd years - and great that was too, but you have to say that the Romanov years have been a fustrating wasted opportunity. 55 or so players in the first team squad after the first January transfer window after his take over! This was a shambles and an expensive one too- the money on wages alone could have reduced the debt considerably.

    I could go on and on as I have done on various forums since he took over, but that's just a taste of what life is like as a Jambo under Mad Vlad. Most of us don't dare to think further than the next game as everytime things seem to be picking up he sticks a spanner in the works. Csaba should have had the funds to buy a decent striker for this season and was sacked because of poor results! Glen and co do a great job, but experience is needed as well. Better stop there before I blow a blood vessel thinking about him!


  • Comment number 15.

    Couple of things to consider about this seasons side...some very stirring performances against Zagreb, Rangers, Celtic (twice) and Hibs last weekend have made this season just about bareable...Not sure if Vlad is more interested in his basketball team back in Lithuania though.

    Hearts fans at least deserve a new main stand and a lot less interference for the owner and maybe some of those dreams could be realised.


  • Comment number 16.

    Mr Spence, far be it for me to comment on journalism, or lack thereof, have you even read what you have written?
    Could Hearts be set to become a force in the land again ?
    If you're a Jam Tart do you think he still smoulders with passion for the club?
    But does the Hearts owner still believe his own early promises and is he still willing to make the Jambos a real power in the land to challenge the hegemony of the Glasgow pair?
    So what are his plans for Hearts? As Hearts fans what do you think they should be?
    Very similar answers could be given to very similar questions don't you think?
    In real terms though, being a life-long Jambo one game does not make a season, I went to four games on the spin earlier in the season and we mustered one shot on target! That was the end of Csaba beginning of JJ, I hardly think that's condusive to winning the league.

  • Comment number 17.

    3rd force? They are heavily in debt to a guy whose banking interests will have been seriously hit by the credit crunch.

    JJ looks a good appointment though managers at Hearts under Vlad have tended to have a precarious existence. Agree though that his policy of not selling players on the cheap is a strong point on his reign.

    As for the early comments about winning the CL and dominating the SPL well those early comments were as credible as his continuing OF paranoia.

  • Comment number 18.


    I know that this was you're first Edinburgh derby and much was made of this on Sportsound. For us Capital fans the atmosphere at ER or the midden is hardly news. We got a kicking last week and then were punted out of the cup. My mate tossed away a forty year old scarf. Imagine Utd. getting cuffed by the dark blues in a quarter final. Good pies though.

    I read you're blog to get some insight into the rest of Scottish football. This is you're forte and ' Beyond the SPL ' is a very good listen. I like you're approach to the game.

    I may be in a minority of one. Please steer away from the ' big boys '. There is life beyond you're beloved Arabs and their league . Just ask Stephen Tweed over getting slaughtered by a fellow manager.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  • Comment number 19.

    Jim, enjoy reading your blogs etc. Wondered when Mr. Romanov would be mentioned again on the BBC, a lot of Hearts fans are wondering where he is most of the time. My opinion for what it's worth as a Hearts fan for more than 40 years, is, when he came in he was a breath of fresh air for Scottish football and Hearts, we seemed to get everything right in the space of a few months, players, management, marketing, the list went on. However, he alone destroyed the dream and shattered all the good work within a short space of time, a good business man he might be, at football the man is an embarrassment. The first sign was when I saw him in the dugout at the AEK game in the Champions League Qualifier in Athens, could you imagine Abramovich sitting beside Mourinho? no, don't think so. Since then it has been a downward spiral almost all the way, the sooner he leaves the better. I know, who will buy the Club, etc. etc. but for a lot of Hearts fans and Scottish football I think it is a critical time, do we continue to spend our hard-earned money on a poor product, any other industry would struggle badly to retain customers if they were served up what we are seeing just now. Romanov in particular treats the Hearts fans in a contemptible way and I am surely not alone in not renewing my season ticket next season, certainly not if Jim Jefferies is denied any new players or allowed to reshuffle his squad to make improvements in 2010/2011.We as a Club had a fantastic chance to change the monotony of Scottish Football for the first time in decades, we will probably never get that chance again for a very long time, if at all, one idiot seen to that. Knowing that and the state of Scottish football and other teams inability to challenge, what is the point anymore, apologies for seeming to be so down on football in this country but I'm not alone am I?
    Here's hoping Craig Levein can do something to lift our spirits with Scotland.

  • Comment number 20.

    That poster Rabbity doesn't half spout mince, but then again he's a Yam

    I would like to let him know that Hibs sold Brown and Thomson before the Yams sold Gordon so as to say Hibs followed Romanov's lead is, quite frankly, ludicrous


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.