Hearts defend reputation after Craig Thomson 'sex-offender' suspension

Derek Watson, chairman of the Hearts Supporters' Trust, hopes Hearts' reputation as a family club will remain intact despite the furore surrounding their player Craig Thomson.

The 20-year-old was suspended with immediate effect by the club yesterday.

The Edinburgh side had initially announced on Friday that they planned to retain the services of Thomson despite his conviction for "lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour".

However, a short statement on the club's official website, www.heartsfc.co.uk, confirmed yesterday: "Hearts today announce that Craig Thomson is suspended with immediate effect. No further comment will be made by the club."

The full-back earlier this month pleaded guilty, was fined and placed on the sex offenders register in relation to his inappropriate conduct towards two under-age girls over the internet.

News of Hearts' initial decision to stand by Thomson resulted in one of the club's sponsors - MacB Water - announcing they were withdrawing support as official water sponsor of the Jambos - a deal worth more than £5,000.

But Watson hopes the reputation of the club has not been damaged.

He told Press Association Sport: "That's something we will find out over time.

"I'm just pleased that they are looking at the situation again. That's the right decision on their part."

However, Watson refused to be drawn on whether Thomson should have a future as a Hearts player.

He said: "That's up to the board at the end of the day. I'm not going to comment on what is obviously a difficult case.

"That's up to the football club and we will make a comment once they have made a decision rather than speculating on it."

However, former Hearts defender Alan McLaren hopes Thomson has played his last game for the club.

Speaking on Sky Sport News, McLaren was asked if he expects Thomson to play for the club again and replied: "Hopefully not. Maybe that's up to Craig and he will maybe take it upon himself to resign.

"You feel for him. He has done something wrong and he has to accept responsibility for it. But hopefully he'll not pull a Hearts shirt on again.

"It's going to be hard for him, regardless of where he goes.

"It will stay with him. It's not something he can shrug off, be it in this country or another country. He will still be what the courts have deemed him to be."

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