Heart of Midlothian Football Club has announced a ban on dealing with the media until early next month, following the reporting of comments by its manager about a referee.
Manager, Paulo Sergio, is to appear at the Scottish Football Association on November 3, to explain comments attributed to him following a pre-match media conference last week about an official who had, three weeks previously, disallowed a Hearts goal in a League Cup match.
Says Hearts, on its website: “Paulo was quizzed at length in a pre-match media conference prior to the Dunfermline game about the appointment of Iain Brines as the fourth official for that game. The manager provided honest, legitimate, measured and transparent answers to the questions raised. The media then immediately raised Paulo's comments directly with the SFA to seek a reaction.
“A major part of that reaction appears to be that the manager, and by association the team and the club, now face quite severe sanctions.”
Earlier this week, Rangers FC 'withdrew co-operation' with the BBC, ahead of a documentary about the club, aired on Thursday evening.
Adds Hearts: “It is this club's considered opinion that, above all else, Heart of Midlothian has a duty of care to its employees. As such the club feels that it is entirely wrong for Paulo Sergio to be potentially sanctioned given the circumstances.
“For this reason the club feels that, in addition to defending the manager's position, the club will also suspend all general media activity – including pre- and post-match media conferences – until, at the earliest, the date of the hearing on November 3. All manager, player and game information will continue to be offered through the club website.
“This decision has not been taken lightly. The club manager and players always endeavour to provide valuable content to the media. However, in this particular case the club feels the actions of certain elements of the media are duplicitous and we have to protect the club from the actions of those who simply seek to sensationalise and at times demonise those working and contributing to the game in this country.