Hearts urged to clear up Thomson's position

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The Independent Football

Hearts have been urged to clarify the future of convicted sex offender Craig Thomson amid speculation the player may be loaned to another club in owner Vladimir Romanov's sphere of influence.

Hearts yesterday confirmed Thomson, who last month pleaded guilty to lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour, would be leaving the club "imminently", adding they would "find a solution" in the coming days.

There is speculation that Thomson will be found a role at either Lithuanian team FBK Kaunas or MTZ-Ripo in Belarus after the statement stopped short of explaining under what terms the 20-year-old would leave.

Romanov came under intense pressure to remove Thomson from the Tynecastle squad after he was fined and placed on the sex offenders' register last month after admitting the offence, which related to inappropriate conduct towards two underage girls over the internet.

And former Hearts defender Alan McLaren has urged Romanov to sever all ties between the player and club.

"I don't think he should go to another club but it's not for me to decide," McLaren told Sky Sports News.

"It's not what I would like and it's not what a lot of Hearts fans would like. They want him sacked by Hearts and out of Hearts forever.

"If he is still going to be on the wage bill for the next two or three years, it's not acceptable. They have to clarify the position."

Romanov initially stood by the player, with a club statement putting his misconduct down to "naivety and possible wrong outside influence" before the Lithuanian-based businessman hit out at "mafia" and "maniacs" who were trying to destabilise the club.

But he claimed at the weekend he had been unable to make an informed decision until the end of his holiday last week.

Speaking through an interpreter, he told BBC Scotland: "I came back from my travels on the seventh and only then was I able to meet Craig Thomson and his family.

"We have had discussions, I have reviewed all the facts concerning his case, and I understand that he has done the wrong thing."

However, Romanov fuelled speculation he would seek another club for Thomson, who has made more than 50 appearances for Hearts, when he called on people to stop focusing on the player.

"But I also understand that it is quite widespread in society, that on the social network it is a very dangerous thing," Romanov said.

"There is something wrong from the wider perspective."

Romanov added: "There are some very serious things wrong that need to be addressed, it's not about singling out one person."

McLaren refused to accept Romanov's reasoning for the delay.

After an internal investigation, Hearts initially announced they were standing by Thomson on June 24 - more than a week after his conviction - before suspending him on June 28.

Two days later, police confirmed they were making inquiries into fresh allegations against the player.

McLaren said: "It's a good decision, unfortunately it's three or four weeks late.

"The long time it has taken the owner to come to this decision was very upsetting for a lot of people - the victims, the victims' families and Hearts fans.

"They wanted it dealt with immediately and it wasn't. This should have been the priority of the owner, it was a serious decision and it should have been dealt with quickly."