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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 20:58 GMT
Romanov denies corruption claims
Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov
Romanov is no stranger to controversy
Hearts' Vladimir Romanov has insisted that he was misquoted by a newspaper that suggested he accused the Old Firm of "buying off" players and referees.

Celtic and Rangers are consulting their lawyers about the comments printed in the Russian magazine Futbol.

But Hearts' majority shareholder told his club website: "I don't expect anything except lies and distortion of my quotes.

"Thank God I haven't come across any corruption in Scotland."

But Romanov appeared to have another swipe at Celtic, who have recently signed Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley after the Scotland internationals left his club.

"To my mind, there are no values in this life that are worth betrayal, even if we're talking about hooped shirts," he said.

"If kids are being pushed towards betrayal, I call it seduction, but seduction of their souls."
If the comments are confirmed, it is a matter we would refer to the club's lawyers and the SFA

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain

Romanov had been quoted by the Russian newsapaper as accusing some Hearts players of undermining former stand-in coach Eduard Malofeev by working for rival clubs from within Tynecastle.

Pressley, Hartley and goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who reportedly met Romanov for showdown talks on Thursday after being dropped from the Hearts side, had in October revealed "significant dressing-room unrest" at Tynecastle.

"What we call underhandedness, they call the norm," Romanov was quoted as saying about the British by the Russian magazine.

"For them, it's just normal to betray your home club, hold talks behind each others' backs."

Romanov has an interest in Lithuanian club Kaunas, but he was also quoted as saying that Scottish football is more corrupt than in his adopted homeland.

"And the referees," added Romanov. "If a team is weaker, then no-one can help them, but if they're equally matched then the referee can have a real influence on the outcome.

"Dodgy's not the word for it.

"I myself went there in the hope of avoiding all the sleaze we're so used to over here.

"I thought it was all clean, by the book, all gentlemen. It turns out it's much worse."

Of the Old Firm, he reportedly said: "They've just turned football into showbusiness with their underhand games, paying off players.

"What we call underhandedness, they call the norm."

Romanov is currently involved in a legal dispute with the Scottish FA after he appealed a fine for accusing Scottish referees of bias last season.

And it is likely that the Scottish FA will also be looking into the latest comments.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain told BBC Scotland: "If the comments are confirmed, it is a matter we would refer to the club's lawyers and the SFA."

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn told BBC Radio Four: "I think it is absurd. Absolutely ridiculous. If he is saying this, I will take legal advice."

And he added on the Today programme: "The Scottish Football Association will clearly take a clear view of this."



SEE ALSO
Spokesman rejects Romanov claims
15 Feb 07 |  Scottish Premier
Romanov to appeal over SFA fine
19 Dec 06 |  Heart of Midlothian
Romanov fined for ref bias claim
11 Dec 06 |  Heart of Midlothian
Hearts fined for Romanov comments
25 Oct 06 |  Heart of Midlothian


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