London Hearts Supporters Club

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Ian Black admits he joined Rangers after Hearts ripped up his contract despite having one year left

Scott McDermott

THE Scotland midfielder revealed his sympathy for friends still at the club and reckons he's much happier away from Tynecastle despite enjoying his time there.

WHILE Vladimir Romanov splashed £17million on a private jet Ian Black’s bills were going sky high as he waited for his Hearts wages.

It sticks in the midfielder’s throat, like bad aeroplane food.

The Rangers star might have grown up supporting the Jambos and produced a man-of-the-match display against Hibs in last season’s Scottish Cup Final success.

But for the first time since leaving Tynecastle, Black insists he’s glad to be out of Gorgie and away from Lithuanian tycoon Romanov.

Last month the controversial Hearts owner failed to pay his players’ salaries on time yet again, despite being charged by the SFA for the same offence a year ago.

But Romanov’s indifferent attitude towards the Hearts staff didn’t surprise Black. In an astonishing blast at his former boss, the 27-year-old insists:

? Romanov uses the club as a toy and is “playing games” with Scottish football.

? THE owner ripped up his contract in the summer, despite having a year left on it to run.

? HE now has peace of mind that he can support his family at Third Division side Rangers.

Black feels sorry for the players still at Hearts who, along with gaffer John McGlynn, didn’t get their wages on time last month – with Romanov claiming it was the SPL’s fault for failing to hand out TV cash.

But he insists he’s delighted to be away from the club he supported as a boy, after going through one of the most stressful spells of his career last term when he wasn’t sure when or if he’d be paid.

Black said: “When I heard their wages were late again I spoke to a couple of them and I feel sorry for what they have to go through.

“I loved Hearts. I grew up watching them and I feel for the people there. But I’m glad I’m away from the owner of the club. I’m glad I’m not part of it and having to worry about getting my wages.

“It’s just a game for him. He likes to play games with Scottish football and that’s why I feel for the staff and players at Tynecastle. We knew the money was there last season and we heard stories that while we weren’t getting paid, he was off buying a private plane.

“When you hear that you know he’s only got the club to play games with it.

“I have to thank the club for what they did for me as a player and the fans were brilliant with me. But the owner needs to sort out what’s going on there.”

When Black left Hearts, after his brilliant performance at Hampden, the club made it clear the midfielder had reached the end of his contract and they couldn’t afford to keep him. They said they didn’t want to stand in his way of him earning a big move away from Edinburgh.

But Black is adamant it was their decision not to take up the solid option of lengthening his stay in Gorgie – and decided to rip up his contract.

The Rangers midfielder said: “If I’m brutally honest I had a year left at Hearts and they ripped up my contract. I had no negotiation with them at all.

“I can tell you I was nowhere near the top earners who are still at the club. I’d love to get that across because there are Hearts fans who think I’m a bad person.

“But it was the top dogs at the club who decided to cut the wage bill, even though I had a year left.

“They just said, ‘We want you to go’. I had a solid contract, it was their decision to tell me to go. I couldn’t have said I didn’t want it or that I wanted more money. It was their option.

“They could have kept me and said I was going nowhere. It was pretty much the same as the manager Paulo Sergio’s contract. They just ripped it up.”

Black confessed the wages row at Hearts last year had a negative effect on him on and off the pitch. With a family to support, it took its toll on him, but he says he’s now stress-free at Ibrox.

Despite plying his trade in Scottish football’s bottom tier, Black believes you can’t put a price on happiness – and insists he can achieve something special with Ally McCoist’s men.

As he prepared to return from injury and face Stirling Albion today, Black said: “I’m delighted to be away from Hearts and enjoying my football again.

“There is extra pressure off me now in terms of supporting my family. Here I know I’m going to be paid on time.

“The players at Hearts go out and do their hardest work for the club and the fans. But it affects you not being paid, especially when you have kids and bills to pay.

“You can’t put a price on peace of mind. I went through tough times on and off the pitch because of it.

“Some Hearts fans think I lacked ambition by coming here. Winning the Scottish Cup was massive but if we travel up the leagues at Rangers, I can be part of something really special here. It’s harder to play for Rangers than it is to play against them.

“But I thought about that before I came, about having to deal with the pressure of the fanbase and the club’s size. It’s something I wanted to have a shot at and I think I’m handling it well.

“I’m not surprised by the expectations here. If you’re involved in football you know what the expectations of Rangers Football Club is. I knew what I was coming into.”

Taken from the Daily Record

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