Hearts FC slaps a ban on media dealings until manager appears before the SFA

Heart of Midlothian FC has banned its staff from all dealings with the media until at least early next month.

The manager and players did not attend the post-match press conference yesterday following the 2-0 home defeat by Rangers.

Rangers have already cut off their connections with BBC Scotland over a controversial documentary on the business dealings of its chairman, Craig Whyte, and the BBC’s representatives stayed away from the press conference.

The Edinburgh club has taken the decision as it fumes on how sections of the media dealt “duplicitously” in reporting comments made by its manager, Paul Sergio, on referee Ian Brines’ handling of a recent League Cup tie against Ayr United.

Sergio has been summoned to a Scottish Football Association hearing on November 3 in which he will be asked to explain comments about Brines attributed to him following a pre-match media conference last week.

The referee, three weeks previously, had disallowed a Hearts goal in the League Cup game.

However, the club will meantime issue manager, players and match information through the club’s own website.

In an article on its website, the Edinburgh club explained: "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."

"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-match and post-match media conferences - until, at the earliest, the date of the hearing on November 3.

“All managers, 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.”

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