Football: It's Heart Breaking for Fans

Sunday Mirror (London, England), July 1, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Football: It's Heart Breaking for Fans


Byline: RAY HEPBURN

AT a time when the Premier League is gasping out for competition to the Old Firm, Hearts are in danger of becoming a sick joke.

Based in the financial centre of Scotland and with huge crowd potential, they really should be the SPL's undisputed third-placed club.

Several times in the late 1908s, when Wallace Mercer was chairman, the club got to within touching distance of the Scottish title.

And under the present regime it looked as though progress was again on the agenda, when Jim Jefferies' side won the Cup in 1998.

Since then, the board have attracted an pounds 8 million input of cash from the Scottish Media Group and still new manager Craig Levein has no budget for players.

Indeed, during his first season in charge he has spent as much time pruning the wage bill and staff numbers as fashioning improvement on the pitch.

And what have the fastidious, diligent Hearts' board produced by way of a response to this alarming situation of their own making?

They are talking about changing the name of the club from the 127- year-old Heart of Midlothian FC to Hearts FC

Just when fans were looking for a new name to carry them into the fresh season with a modicum of confidence, they've been hit with a new identity.

The reason for this momentous decision, which has been slammed by both the Small Shareholders Association and the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, is that it will help market the club.

Marketing the commercial activities of football clubs is, of course, crucially important and a glimpse at the staff list at cash-strapped Hearts certainly spells that out.

They have a Conference Manager, a Communications Manager, a Customers Service Manager, a Retail Manager, a Sales Manager and a Ticket Manager - oh and a broke football team manager!

From virtually the moment Chris Robinson and Leslie Deans took over, there has been an unmistakable feeling that the club has completely lost touch with priorities.

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