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A Fair day's work for a fair day's pay

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Jim Spence | 17:06 UK time, Friday, 9 December 2011

What should Hearts players do about their unpaid wages ?

Withdraw their labour ?

Treat their contracts as repudiated and walk away as free agents ?

Or stick it out in the hope that Vladimir Romanov finds the cash from somewhere ?

The issue is a shocking indication of the state of Hearts finances.

There is no more fundamental breach of the contract between employer and employee than failure to pay wages due.

Every labourer is worthy of his hire. Unless he plays for Hearts it seems.

There appears to be a sanguine view among some fans that because the players are earning by many standards handsome salaries, that they can and should be able to cope, but that misses the point.

Professional footballers, like most of us, live according to their incomes and have outgoings according to their incomes.

Football authorities always like to see the law kept out of the sport.

But it appears that even in the wake of the landmark Jean-Marc Bosman ruling 16 years ago, they have learned little.

The Hearts players could not be blamed for resorting to the law of the land, claiming breach of contract and walking out of Tynecastle as free agents.

That would deny the club any compensation which would otherwise be due for the players.

The club can't have it both ways.

It cannot ask players to commit themselves to the shirt and the cause and risk career threatening injuries while not paying them wages due for work done.


  • Comment number 1.

    Very short blog
    Jim, you don't seem to be replying these days so I'll try again
    Why is there only one blog on Scottish football but a plethora of English ones ?
    Why are your blogs so quickly closed for comments ?

    Why is the coverage of the Scottish Football League so poor and dated ?

  • Comment number 2.

    I honestly think its time for the Hearts players to at least take things up a level and make a formal complaint to the football authorities. They have done an incredible job of maintaining a dignified silence and giving 100% on the park but its really getting to the point now where its clear Hearts have no intention of doing anything about this unless they are pushed. I honestly cant see what the players have to lose right now. In the past there was always the fear of going against Romanov and being dumped in the reserves. Now with Romanaov not even bothering to pay the players that haven't even angered him, I'm not sure what he can hold against them.

    Its clear that a large number will be going in January (already Jason Thomson, Balogh and Callum Elliot have been told to find new clubs or left already) so my best guess is that the squad are collectively waiting till the transfer window opens. At that stage they can hopefully get a move and get away from the club without long, protracted legal action. Its a long way to go however and with Decembers pay coming up and Novembers still MIA, thats a long time to wait without any money coming into the bank.

    The other issue is that the players that leave will still (presumably) be owed wages. I would expect to see many more inclined to take legal actions against the club once they have left and they are no longer under Vlads thumb. There could be court cases against Hearts rumbling on for a awhile.

  • Comment number 3.

    I would also like to dispute your statement "stick it out in the hope that Vladimir Romanov finds the cash from somewhere ?"

    Whilst its clear Hearts are in serious financial problems, Romanov and his companies still hold wealth. I have no idea what his personal fortune is or how much his companies are making every year but my guess would be that he has the money somewhere to pay these guys, at least for the next couple of months. He just doesn't want to. He has made it clear he's lost interest in Hearts and like a child with a toy that no longer interests it, he couldn't care less what happens anymore.

    If the club was seriously about to go bust and there was literally NO money in the club or its financial backers and Hearts had made that clear there would be a lot more understanding with wages being unpaid. But they have just paid a 7 figure tax bill. As far as I'm aware the management and young players are still getting paid. Where did this cash come from??? It just seems that Vlad has decided these first team players HE sanctioned massive salaries for are no longer worth his money. That is the worst thing about all of his, a wealthy guy who signed off on large contracts that he now doesn't feel like honouring. That and also the total deafening silence from Hearts. No apologies or public statements to explain or give time frames, reassurances, explanations etc.

  • Comment number 4.

    I feel sympathy for the Hearts players and the fans

    Unfortunately there is no money in the SPL.Sponsors will not waste money in the present economic climate on a poor product

    My solution is to have all teams part time except the OF

    The crowds are virtually non league except for maybe 4 teams in the SPL

    Scottish football had a fine history, but 1998,1972 and 1967 are a long time ago.

  • Comment number 5.

    as a hearts fan i have to say this farce is a disgrace. may we about to see another football legal ruling courtesy of romanov. maybe webster will have a rule 1 and 2!

    the club may have now decided on a new direction but mistreating players in shocking. besides it makes no sense to risk players leaving for free when you could pay them till january and sell them on, even if it's at a cut cut price.

    but hey ho Doncaster thinks mistreatment of players and bigotry is good for selling the SPL. how does that man still have a job?

  • Comment number 6.

    Romanov is a shambles, to be brutally honest. How can he justify, a £50million price on a football club which has over £30million of debt and that cannot even pay its bills?

    The players should withdraw their labour, in my opinion. But only after consultation with the Players' Union. The players withdrawing their labour is the right thing to do, but where does it leave the supporters: the people who have watched their owner talk about winning the Champions League and in reality have done very little since season 2005/06.

  • Comment number 7.


    You've said it - I've said it!!

    E-eee B-eee C-eee.

    That's why.

    Roll on the referendum.

  • Comment number 8.

    @Tomslaford - "Manchester, England, and the world's finest." Shown the European door by teams from league's and country's you probably sniff at. Perhaps you should focus on your own game before you go about slating others? The sparkling media PR machine can't roll on forever. 8 Scottish managers in the EPL and only two English managers in the top 10 (compared to four Scots). Your beloved league is rules by Scots and is easily surpassed by what's on show in Spain and Germany.

    @1 &7 - Spot on.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hearts have done well to be in the league position there in,after whats went on.
    I said it before but the pars,dundee & united chased captain nemo when he came a snorkling!! @8 Bang on but you let the outsider @4 get to you.
    I,ve been having a wee giggle browsing the blogs on rooney,on the bbc,s epl.
    They all hate each other.
    Some hate rooney.
    Some hate the manc clubs.
    One lad hates oor legend kenny dalglish,probably cos his brilliance done his team in a few times.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is this blog now only for teams in the East & Central Scotland?

    How many blogs can we have on Hearts, DUtd, Hibs and StJohnstone.

    Next stop? Aberdeen?

  • Comment number 11.

    The end is nigh two of the "big four" having to pay cash on the nose for tickets to their respective away game derbies!! The same two aparently on the brink of admin at her majesty's pleasure !! and both tout themselves as the Queens X1 !! BUT "The Doncaster" roles on oblivious !!

  • Comment number 12.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 13.

    Another blog on Hearts that will only stir up the same apathy as the last one only a few weeks ago. Should people be paid wages? Yes. Well that is this debate over! What next? 'Dunfermilne and fog', 'Aberdeen will win a football match soon because CBrown is a great manager', or 'DUtd on the mend and heading for the top6'

    Deadzone blog

  • Comment number 14.

    Referred to #12 and not #13.

    Can't believe I've managed to give this tosh another post!

  • Comment number 15.

    Think you need to check your facts Jim before producing stuff like this. Vlad may take you to task for making out he has no cash.

  • Comment number 16.


    I find it fascinating that supporters of the Uglies continue to denigrate your blog. A simple glance at your biog should tell contributors where you are coming from. My breakfast was certainly more interesting than the Old Firm even it was'nt a macaroni pie !

    There are several outlets on the internet where OF fans can peddle their ' opinions '. I dip into them from time to time. Most of the comment is very scary indeed.

    I have a degree of sympathy with #s 1 & 7. What has happened ? There is little scope to develop the discussion, or for you to respond.

    As to Hearts. I am not sure that players withdrawing their labour will achieve all that much. I do know that losing Hearts would be a disaster for Scottish Football. That an institution such as HoM is under threat is an utter and total disgrace. This must be resolved, and quickly.

    I do not know of a Hibs fan, aside from those unable to spell their own name, who would disagree.

  • Comment number 17.

    #1 and #7

    I reckon the coverage of Scottish football on the BBC is good.

    First off, there are 5 million Scots to be served compared to 50 odd million English people. That would suggest something like 10 times the amount of region specific content (for want of a better term).

    And if talk football it's likely to be even bigger - I know very few English football fans who have any interest whatsoever in the Scottish game while, by comparison, most Scottish football fans will be somewhere from interested in the EPL to actually having a team to support down there.

    Is the EPL the best league in the world? Maybe or maybe not but it's certainly up there.

    I love Hibs. They will always be my team and they will always be the result I'm really concerned with but the SPL is poor both in terms of the football (lower Championship level at best) and organisationally - ever tried explaining the playing each other 3 to 4 times a season / league split nonsense to an English fan?

    Watching the EPL is far more interesting. Ok, it may be based on stupid money but now there's some real challenge for the once impenetrable big four monopoly it's fascinating.

    Especially when you contrast with Scotland where the ugly sisters monopoly has led to non old firm league champions on only 19 occasions.

    And on the topic in question I have to agree with #16 that it would be a disgrace for hearts go to the wall. The rest of Scottish football has had our laughs at Mad Vlad but it's now time for him to do one.

  • Comment number 18.

    #1 &#7
    I agree totally and can't understand why Jim has given up responding to us although I do fear that the end is nigh.
    Please Jim, let us know what's going on.

    As for Hearts, the players should take action supported by SPFA/SPL/SFA to ensure that they receive the monies due, no way should they be forced to carry on playing in the hope that it will be forthcoming eventually.
    I do not doubt that he has the money, he just won't pay.

    Why not follow the example of the former Rangers executives and ring fence monies collected at home games?

  • Comment number 19.

    @piorek, one thing.
    why is the scottish league in general so poor and dated?

  • Comment number 20.

    Jim, I agree with other posters that it would be good if you could once again comment actively on posts.

    If I were a Hearts player, I'd be very concerned that the organisations I need to depend on in situations like this - SPL, SFA, UEFA, whoever - seem to be powerless. It's hard for a lay person to understand why no action is being taken against the club - something like ringfencing gate receipts, a time limit for salary payments with an automatic points deduction if the deadline's missed, a suspension of fixtures...I don't know what the answer is, but Hearts is the thin end of the wedge. Most clubs seem to run on an unsustainable financial model - it can't be permitted to go on this way.

    Getting rid of the Old Firm isn't the answer, unless most other teams want to take part in a semi-pro second tier league.

    I wonder - if the current English 'fit and proper' standard were applied to Romanov now, would he pass?


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