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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 22:23 GMT
Rix makes plea for second chance
Graham Rix, new coach of Heart of Midlothian is filmed
Graham Rix acknowledged his offence when he spoke to reporters
The new coach of Hearts Football Club has urged fans and the public to give him a chance after concerns were raised about his conviction for a sex offence.

Children's charities and some fans have been unhappy about the appointment of Graham Rix, who was jailed in 1999 for illegal sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Mr Rix said he had made a mistake but felt it was time he was given the chance to rebuild his life and career.

The club's chairman, Roman Romanov, defended the controversial appointment.

He said in Russia they had a proverb: "The man who'd been in trouble was twice the man once he'd served his punishment."

Graham Rix explained why the offer to go to Tynecastle was worth all of the grief.

'Tough time'

"Seven years ago I made a mistake and once I realised I'd made a mistake I held my hands up," he said.

"I was punished and I accepted that punishment. It was a tough time for me and for my family.

"But does that mean I've got to be punished for the rest of my life?"

"I don't really think so. I'm trying my best to rebuild my life, my career and this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity to do that."

About 50 Hearts fans protested outside the club as the ex-England international arrived to take up his post.

He now has the responsibility for promoting child protection in sport
Jill Hamilton
Children 1st

One fan said Mr Rix's criminal offence would give the club a bad name among all of the clubs in the Scottish Premier League.

Another said: "The man did his time, but at the end of the day he's still on the sex offenders' register and with Hearts being a family club I just don't think it goes down well at all."

Jill Hamilton, from child protection charity, Children 1st, said Mr Rix should now give something back.

"He now has the responsibility for promoting child protection in sport to ensure that every child is safe regardless of what sport they're undertaking," she said.

A leading Scottish lawyer warned Hearts may have to stop Rix, as a released sex offender, working with youngsters.

Employer assessment

Gerry Brown, from the Law Society of Scotland, said: "If someone has a serious conviction for a sexual offence, any reasonable employer would carry out a risk assessment on that individual.

"They need to check what work they'll be carrying out, what contact they'll have with children, and whether there will be any unsupervised sole charge of a child."

Since the departure of former boss George Burley over a fortnight ago, the Edinburgh club has undergone a shake-up within the hierarchy.

I would like to ask the Hearts fans to give the man a chance, judge him on results
Roman Romanov
Hearts chairman

Chief executive Phil Anderton was sacked by Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov a week ago and chairman George Foulkes resigned in protest at the decision.

Chairman and interim chief executive Roman Romanov, son of Vladimir, admitted former Portsmouth and Oxford manager Rix had not been first choice.

Names such as Sir Bobby Robson, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Claudio Ranieri had also been linked with the job.

Mr Romanov said: "I would like to ask the Hearts fans to give the man a chance, judge him on results and ask them not to exaggerate about what exactly happened."

Hearts unveil Rix as head coach
08 Nov 05 |  Heart of Midlothian
Rix had been set to join Crawley
08 Nov 05 |  Crawley Town
Hearts fans unhappy with Rix link
07 Nov 05 |  Heart of Midlothian
Hearts confirm Rix as new coach
07 Nov 05 |  Heart of Midlothian

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