Former Hearts goalkeeper Antti Niemi launched a scathing attack on Vladimir Romanov’s running of the club last night.

The Finnish international keeper, now with Fulham, described the Lithuanian banker’s insistence on picking the team as ‘madness’.

Niemi, left, was a massive favourite at Tynecastle before moving to Southampton in a £2million deal – but he keeps close tabs on events in Gorgie and is horrified at what he is hearing.

He said: “I’ve been quite disturbed to see what’s going on at Hearts in recent times. After starting the season so well everything now seems to be descending into chaos. I think it’s an open secret George Burley quit Tynecastle because the owner was trying to influence him over team selection and now it appears Mr Romanov is picking the team instead of Graham Rix. It is absolute madness.

“As an ex-Hearts player I feel angry about this. Hearts are a club with over 100 years of tradition and superb fans, yet Mr Romanov has walked in and shown no respect for that.”

Niemi can’t understand why Rix was appointed if Romanov isn’t giving the Englishman the power to select the players.

He added: “Why did he bother to hire a coach in the first place? What’s the point in having employees if you don’t trust them to do the job? If Mr Romanov needs to pull all the strings he should just run the club on his own! I hope he sees sense and realises he’s harming the club. The team is still doing remarkably well and could win the SPL but without all this controversy I’m sure they would be doing even better.”