Rangers 0 Heart Of Midlothian 0: Hartley close to Rangers move as Hearts convulsions intensify

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The week's transfer activity promises to be infinitely more eventful than this match after the latest ructions behind the scenes at Hearts forced the club's head coach, Valdas Ivanauskas, to leave out his two best players.

The Scotland midfielder Paul Hartley could be on Rangers' books before the close of business on Wednesday and Scotland's goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, is the subject of a three-way race for his signature featuring Fulham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. It is understood that Rangers have bid £1m for Hartley, while Fulham have doubled an offer of £2.5m for Gordon and Arsenal and Bayern could go to £6m or higher.

Ivanauskas, the latest Hearts coach to have his team selection dictated by the club's Lithuanian owner, Vladimir Romanov, admitted on Saturday night that he had been told not to pick either Hartley or Gordon. "Yes, I wanted to [pick them]," he said. He did not because of "football business" and "football politics".

Up to five players could leave in the coming days, with Hearts weighing up offers for the French holding midfielder Julien Brellier, Scotland right-back Robbie Neilson and Czech striker Michal Pospisil.

Gordon and Hartley were part of the trio who publicly condemned Romanov's regime late last year, along with Steven Pressley, who was subsequently ousted and signed for Celtic. Romanov has long made it clear that he does not rate Brellier or Neilson, despite compelling evidence that the pair ­ with Pressley, Gordon, Hartley and Andy Webster, who is now with Rangers ­ were crucial to Hearts' success last season.

Neilson could yet end up at Ibrox too, although the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, seems most intent now on strengthening in midfield and up front. He has signed two centre-backs, David Weir and Ugo Ehiogu, with a combined age of 70, who were both assured on Ehiogu's debut.

In midfield, Smith has made bids for Hartley and Wigan's Lee McCulloch, and up front he has made approaches for the Falkirk striker Alan Gow and Adda Djeziri, an 18-year-old forward with BK Frem of Denmark. "We have bids out for a number of players. We will wait and see how those go," Smith said.

He added that he was "disappointed" not to have secured a third straight win since returning to Ibrox; only a late, borderline offside decision prevented victory after Chris Burke set up Barry Ferguson, who lashed home only to have his celebrations curtailed by the linesman's flag.

Rangers need more efficiency in attack to maintain their hold on second place. Aberdeen and Hibernian both won on Saturday to stay in the race for the runner-up spot, while this point for the breaking Hearts also keeps them in the mix.

Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Hutton, Ehiougu, Weir, Murray; Sionko (Burke, 72), Ferguson, Hemdani, Adam; Novo, Boyd (Sebo, 67). Substitutes not used: Klos (gk), Svensson, Rae, Lennon, Lowing.

Heart of Midlothian (4-4-2): Banks; Karipidis, Zaliukas (Tall, 68), Berra, Fyssas; Mikoliunas (Wallace, 59), Aguiar, McCann, Driver; Bednar, Velicka (Elliot, 81). Substitutes not used: Kurskis (gk), Brellier, Jankauskas, Armstrong.

Referee: C Richmond.

Booked: Rangers Adam; Heart of Midlothian Karipidis.

Man of the match: Ferguson.

Attendance: 50,321.

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