Jefferies will talk rather than quit over Hearts selection policy

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The Independent Football

Jim Jefferies has no intention of resigning as Hearts manager despite the interference of the majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov in team selection.

The Hearts captain, Marius Zaliukas, was made unavailable to Jefferies for last Saturday's Scottish Premier League visit to Rangers on the morning of the game at the behest of Romanov, who, it is understood, was concerned that his fellow Lithuanian might be sent off by the referee, Iain Brines.

Jefferies, who was already without the injured duo Andy Webster and Lee Wallace and the suspended Ismael Bouzid, yesterday expressed his frustration at the decision. Hearts lost the match 4-0, but their manager insisted that he has not considered quitting Tynecastle.

Speaking ahead of tonight's SPL match with Celtic, Jefferies said: "There's no way I'm resigning. I'll come in here and I'll learn from that experience and I'll know what to do now. There were rumours going around on Saturday. I was getting texts from my son that I'd resigned.

"Yes, I was disappointed the way we were a bit short at the back, but the rumours that were flying around weren't true."

Zaliukas is set to return to the Hearts team against Celtic, while Jefferies is optimistic that Marian Kello – the goalkeeper has also been out of the team of late because of an undisclosed "private matter" – will also play.

Romanov is set to travel to Edinburgh to attend tonight's match and will meet Jefferies for discussions about the future of the club. The manager, whose main dealings with Romanov are through director Sergejus Fedotovas, added: "I'll meet him like we always do.

"If there's time before the game we'll do it, or if it's the day after – we'll be discussing going forward. If I've got any problems I'll not be sitting here discussing it with you. I'll be discussing it with the owner and Sergei."

Jefferies added that Hearts had appealed against the dismissal of Eggert Jonsson at Ibrox, meaning the Icelandic midfielder is available tonight.

Meanwhile, Craig Whyte has declared that his passion for Rangers was his main reason for buying the club. Whyte completed his takeover of the Scottish champions on Friday when he acquired Sir David Murray's 85 per cent shareholding.

The deal involved wiping out the club's debt of around £20m and pledging £25m over five years to invest in the squad.

Describing the motivation behind the buyout, which took six months to conclude, Whyte said: "I'm a passionate Rangers fan and I have been since I was a boy. I also see a great opportunity. Rangers are a tremendous worldwide brand and I think there are many commercial activities that can be expanded on.

"I'm a fan first and foremost and that's the main reason for buying the club. It's a very exciting time, I'm very proud to be the owner of Rangers Football Club. It's a fantastic institution and it's very exciting."

Whyte is "very confident" that Rangers will win the case brought against them by HM Revenue and Customs. The Ibrox club are under investigation by HMRC over a tax issue which relates to offshore payments to players from 2001.

The outgoing Rangers chairman, Alastair Johnston, admitted last month that he feared the ongoing dispute could leave the Scottish champions with a bill they could not pay.

However, Whyte does not share those concerns. "At this moment in time, there is no liability to HMRC," he said. "There is a tax tribunal that has been going on for some time. Our advice is that we are going to win the case.

"I'm confident we are going to win the case and there will be no liability there. It's not going to be determined for a while yet but I'm very confident we're going to win that case.

"It's something we have gone into in quite a lot of detail and I've spoken with the legal counsel dealing with the case, who's very confident we're going to win."

Whyte has also vowed to continue Rangers' fight to stamp out sectarianism in the wake of Uefa sanctions and urged fans to demonstrate the same behaviour he witnessed at Ibrox during Saturday's win over Hearts. Rangers were fined and their fans banned from travelling to their next away fixture in Europe following discriminatory behaviour during both legs of their Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven.

Whyte said: "I think there has been a lot of work done in recent years by the club to stamp out sectarian singing. We've just got to follow through on that.

"When you look at the game on Saturday, there was a tremendous atmosphere. There was no sectarian singing and everybody had a good time and that's what we want to continue.

"I want to support the fans being here, having a good time and enjoying coming to watch matches at Ibrox," he underlined.