First Minister Alex Salmond has been the driving force behind this bill both through the parliament and in the media, since the so-called ‘Old Firm shame game’ last season. He said at the time: “We are proposing a legislative framework for the police and prosecuting authorities to do their job – and have the tools they are asking for – to rid Scotland of behaviour and actions that should be in the past.”
The self-confessed Hearts supporter is quick enough to condemn the actions of Old Firm fans and rightly so given his position as Scotland’s First Minister. But why has he not came out and condemned the actions and antics of Vladimir Romanov over the financial issues at his beloved Hearts?
He came out and welcomed the so-called dismissal of convicted sex offender and Hearts defender Craig Thomson, but stated that the club took too long to make such a decision.
He said at the time: “Do I welcome the news that Craig Thomson has been sacked? Yes, but it took too long. The club’s delayed response is about Hearts not immediately understanding its responsibilities to wider society. It’s a blindness. What you do in football affects other things. You can’t just have a narrow focus. For one reason or another, Hearts didn’t appreciate that quickly enough.”
He added: “I didn’t speak to Hearts about it. I’ve had enough on my plate [with sectarianism].”
Salmond also had his say on Romanov’s ownership of Hearts back in 2009, he said: “I still believe there is a general problem in football which involves a kind of devil’s bargain. If you get a club sold to a very rich foreign guy – often a Russian oligarch or somebody like that – then I suppose you enter into a devil’s bargain, whereby you hope the guy is rich enough to buy you success.
“It’s the Chelsea syndrome – now that is a devil’s bargain there. But, I think, in Hearts case with Romanov, we’ve entered a devil’s bargain without getting the bargain.”
He also compared Romanov to Hearts former chairman Wallace Mercer. He said: “Vladimir Romanov, for me, is a kind of Baltic states Wallace Mercer – he is unsafe hands. I’m not saying that Romanov is some sort of dreadful person. All I’m saying is that, if we’re going to be taken over by a rich guy from the Baltic states, then it’s just a pity he wasn’t a bit richer.”
Those latter comments on Romanov were made just over two years ago, so why has Scotland’s top politician and ‘eager’ Hearts supporter not taken to his soap box to fire a broadside at the running of the club’s finances by Romanov and his cronies?
He has taken to the soap box over sectarianism aiming his shots at Celtic and Rangers fans, but there is significant examples of elements of the Hearts support taking to the bigotry stage also – yet Salmond is silent on his beloved Hearts why is that?
With Romanov trying to sell the club and failing to pay the wages of his players, the club that Salmond professes to support is being run into the ground by the man who Salmond labelled as, ‘a kind of Baltic states Wallace Mercer’.
Why is Salmond targeting only one specific problem in Scottish football – yes a significant problem – and seemingly ignoring other issues much closer to his heart? Afraid of losing his seat in the director’s box? Afraid of being banned from Tynecastle as a whole? Or does he just not care about his beloved Hearts as much as he has professed over the years?
There are plenty of questions, but will Salmond ever answer them?