Graffiti on the Hearts badge mosaic outside the front door of Tynecastle’s main stand calling for manager Robbie Neilson to leave the club has been condemned as “a gross insult”.
Pictures emerged on Sunday afternoon of the words “f*** off Neilson” having been spray-painted across the Jambos crest on the paving of the Foundation of Hearts Plaza outside the stadium.
Fans’ group the Foundation of Hearts, who are now the club’s majority shareholders, strongly criticised the move in a tweet on Monday morning.
“An utterly shameful, pathetic act of vandalism at Tynecastle yesterday,” read the statement.
“If this was really the act of a Hearts ‘supporter’, it’s a gross insult to the badge and, perpetrated on the plaza named for the fans who did so much to save the club, it’s a shocking insult to all of them.”
Neilson has come under pressure from supporters in recent weeks following a run of five defeats in six matches. That has ended their participation in the Scottish Cup and seen their lead in the battle for third place in the cinch Premiership cut to just one point by an Aberdeen side who recently trailed them by 11 points.
While the number of Hearts fans turning on Neilson has increased over the past month, the slogan daubed outside the stadium has been widely condemned.
“To the idiots that sprayed Foundation Plaza today – have a word!” tweeted one supporter. “We’re all frustrated with what we’re watching but this is an act of self harm against the club we support. Not the way to go.”
Neilson, 42, returned to Hearts for a second spell as manager in the summer of 2020 and led the club to promotion from the Championship and then a third-place finish in the Premiership as well as two Scottish Cup finals in his first two campaigns.
However, supporters have become frustrated at the team’s inability to take hold of the battle for third this time round after their impressive form in December and January gave way to a more concerning run of results since the start of February.