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Mar 5 2005

Hearts chiefs launch amazing attack on linesman

By David Mccarthy

CHRIS ROBINSON sat at the head of the table, his face partially obscured by a forest of microphones. But don't worry, he wasn't blushing. He wouldn't get a red neck if you turned a blowtorch on it.

The former Hearts owner sat next to Vladimir Romanov's representative in Scotland, Sergejus Fedetovas, and told a packed press conference that the club had to take the unprecedented step of demanding an SFA inquiry into the integrity of the match officials - and linesman Andy Davis in particular - because it was their duty to listen to the wishes of their supporters.

But if Robinson had been interested in listening to the wishes of Hearts fans, he'd have left the club years ago.

But yesterday it suited him and the new owners to use the fans as a reason to launch an astonishing attack on the honesty of those who officiate at Scottish football matches.

Fedetovas only arrived in Scotland five minutes ago. To question the integrity of Davis, a policeman whose entire professional career away from football is governed by integrity, beggars belief.

He might not be a great linesman and he might have made a monumental blunder - but casting doubts on the man's honesty is a serious accusation.

Hearts also want the match replayed. It won't happen but they'll chase their cause because, according to Robinson, they are listening to the fans. He said: 'Whether the match is replayed is a matter for the SFA to judge. We have asked for the position we found ourselves in on Wednesday night to be investigated. It was absolute chaos and mayhem in the light of that decision.

'We cannot condone the coin throwing and incidents that took place but we have to deal with that. We would like to think that the supporters are never faced with situations where they think there is more to a decision than just a wrong call.

'If there is more than that, an inquiry will help us to establish that.If there isn't more than that, the transparency that comes out of the inquiry will help benefit Scottish football.

seen a reaction by supporters of the club and by other clubs in the wake of that decision.

'Sergejus has discussed the situation with the board of the club and they feel they are not prepared to live with this decision without an inquiry.

'Our fans are asking us to stand up for Scottish football. If it stands up to scrutiny, fine.'

But at no point in last night's press conference did Hearts put forward a shred of evidence that pointed to Davis being 'bent'.But by insisting that referee Hugh Dallas was beyond reproach Robinson was clearly insinuating that Davis could not be placed in the same category.

Fedetovas admitted that the club had taken no legal advice on the matter but he added: 'I'm not making a judgment - I don't want to say someone was making a deliberate mistake, but an investigation needs to take place.

'There have been a lot of questions about this mistake.To professional people,it is obvious there were no grounds for this decision.We feel an obligation to question that.'

The Lithuanian went on to insist he was not condoning the coin throwing or the behaviour of compatriot Saulius Mikoliunas, who barged Davis with his chest in the wake of the penalty decision - and was red carded.

He said: 'It was terrible behaviour by the player and bad behaviour by the supporters. We need to put more efforts in to control that. Fans and the club and the players need to respect officials but we need to address important issues like this.

'If Saulius was not sent off and the fans had not reacted,we would still have asked for an investigation. I am not standing up for the people who threw coins on the pitch - that was terrible. I can never promise though, that if another decision goes like this, the crowd will not go mad again.'

Asked if the club had taken into account the pressure that their actions may bring upon Davis and his family, Fedetovas said: 'On the person himself and his family? I think human mistakes happen but there are other possibilities for bad decisions.

'I am not blaming anyone - I feel responsibility for supporters of my club.'

The same linesman was involved in another Rangers-Hearts controversy in November when the winning goal in a 3-2 victory for the Ibrox club was hotly disputed.

Hearts claimed Stephen Hughes had run the ball out of play for a goal-kick before crossing for Nacho Novo to head the winner and Jambos keeper Craig Gordon was seen angrily remonstrating with Davis.

But Hearts are insisting that their demand for an inquiry is based purely on Wednesday night's incident.

Fedetovas said: 'If the SFA says there will beno inquiry that would be a bad answer for the supporters of Scottish football.

'We will look at the situation if that happens but I have not thought about the possibility of them turning their back on this.'

It seems they haven't thought a lot of this thing through.

Taken from the Daily Record

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