FOR a club which seems to be short of money on an almost monthly basis Hearts do a very good job of keeping it as the main topic of conversation.
Discussions about club finances have become common currency at their press conferences during the reign of Vladimir Romanov, the latest twist coming in the form of a share issue.
The Tynecastle club have appealed for supporters to buy shares in an effort to raise £1.79m in additional revenue. That should be enough to cover next month's wages, at the very least. The need for such an initiative is born from Romanov's diminished backing of his club – which is £24m in debt – and a need to become self-sufficient.
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It is an understandable aim, even if one can afford to be arch about it given Romanov's occasionally fraught stewardship. Jamie MacDonald joined manager John McGlynn in supporting the share issue yesterday and the Hearts goalkeeper is keen that his club find further income streams to ensure its long-term security.
"In the past we've had a lot of funding from UBIG [the Lithuanian bank owned by Romanov] and I suppose taken it for granted a bit; the players, the fans take it for granted that the money is going to be there," said MacDonald, whose side face Ross County today. "Now, and not just us with these UEFA fair play rules, you have to work to your turnover and it's about implementing that.
"I think Mr Romanov still has the club at heart but clubs in Europe are going to have work to financial fair play models and we are no different. Everyone is aware of that and you have a bit of worry in the back of your mind.
"That's just natural. But overall we are quite comfortable and we believe that nothing bad will happen to the club and that Mr Romanov has the club's best interest at heart. The club is easily targeted sometimes. Even with the recent pay issue. Don't get me wrong we got paid late but it was two or three days late.
"It was not the same as last year when it was weeks and weeks. Hearts is also working to their turnover which is a massive thing. Clubs have to do that now."
The Scottish Premier League meted out a transfer embargo until December 23 on Wednesday but Hearts could face a potential points deduction should the wages issue persist. All supporters entering Tynecastle this afternoon will be issued with a brochure to advertise the share issue. "It's good the club still has an eye on the future and not just the here and now," said MacDonald.
Ross County are only interested in the present. The Highland side have taken 11 points from the first weeks of the season, allowing them to settle into life in the top flight. It is a comfort which was kept from Steven Ross, the County youngster only learning he was to make his senior debut last weekend with less than 90 minutes to go before kick-off.
That came against Hibernian and Ross will hope for another taste of action against their Edinburgh rivals this afternoon. His enthusiasm is only stoked by the fact he also happens to be a County fan.
"I got pulled in by the boss an hour-and-a-half before the game and knew then I was going to be starting. All he said was 'you're starting today. All the best. The boys will look after you,'" said Ross, whose side are without Mark Corcoran, Sam Morrow, Martin Scott and Joe Malin ahead of the trip to Tynecastle. "Then he told me I'd better go and text my folks to warn them.
"I came into County's set-up seven years ago and came through all of the youth ages. Your ambition, even then, is to play for the first team. But it is hard. There's such strong competition.
"Not many people have done it from up here. There are a few notable ones like Don Cowie, but not too many. It's not often a supporter gets to play for his team. I always hoped the chance was going to come, which it has. I just got chucked straight in and that was that. I had to deal with it."