Rix and Duffy are sacked by Hearts

Hearts will wait until the summer before rebuilding their management team after parting company with their head coach, Graham Rix, and director of football, Jim Duffy. Rix's record fell short of the controlling Romanov family's expectations and he fell despite coming into the job as recently as November when he replaced George Burley. Duffy quickly followed, a month into his new job.

Valdas Ivanauskas, a Lithuanian like the Romanovs, was swiftly appointed interim first-team coach until the end of the season.

It was another day of high drama at Tynecastle as the Hearts chairman Roman Romanov fired a parting shot at Rix. The former Arsenal and England midfielder was a surprise appointment following the departure of Burley, who had steered the Edinburgh club to the top of the Scottish Premier League.

But Rix became a victim despite guiding Hearts to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup. The club have, however, dropped to second in the SPL under Rix, and they trail Celtic by 14 points. Hearts signed 11 players in January, and while many believed the owner, Vladimir Romanov, was behind those deals, his son - Roman - claimed they were Rix's signings. Roman also suggested the way in which news reached the media about his father picking the team angered the main shareholder and hastened Rix's departure.

Rix's role has been in question almost since the day he took the job, and it was further undermined when it emerged that Vladimir Romanov had picked the team for a game against Dundee United, which led to a player revolt.

"We felt some of the signings made in January were not appropriate for Hearts," Roman said. "In addition, the events which occurred in February when Hearts played Dundee United, including the way in which some information reached the public domain, were disappointing to us.

"I'd like to thank Graham Rix for all his hard work at Hearts. He gave 100 per cent, but ultimately it did not work out. Vladimir Romanov and the club's management felt that something had to be done quickly. We have been disappointed with the performance of the team. Results were not what they should have been."

* Celtic paid tribute to Jimmy Johnstone before last night's 2-1 win against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Bank of Scotland Premier League. Agnes Johnstone, widow of the Celtic winger who died last week, and "Lisbon Lions" players took the European Cup onto the Parkhead pitch prior to an emotional minute's applause.

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