Andy Webster has given Hearts notice that he will be leaving the club under an obscure FIFA rule after falling out with owner Vladimir Romanov.

The Scottish centre back becomes only the second European place to invoke regulation 17 that allows him to walk away from his current contract within ‘a protected period’. The 24 year-old, previously heavily linked with Fulham, had fifteen days after the Scottish Cup final to inform Hearts of his intentions and his resignation letter has been delivered to Tynecastle.

Webster will now be able to open talks with any non-Scottish side on July 1st with FIFA adjudicating on appropriate compensation – although controversial chairman Romanov will miss on the market valuation for one of Scotland’s most consistent defenders. The centre back was dropped after refusing to sign a new contract with Hearts and his exile sparked a dressing room revolt at Romanov’s interference in team selection.