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Liutauras Varanavicius today admitted that the time was right for him to leave the board of directors at Heart of Midlothian, after his native Lithuania were drawn to play Scotland in the Euro 2008 qualifiers last month.

Speaking at a conference call media briefing in Glasgow today, the president of the Lithuanian Football Federation conceded that there was the potential for his role at Tynecastle to be viewed as a conflict of interest, and as such he would have to step aside.

He said: "Originally it had been our intention for me to join the board to assist in the communication process for the early stages of Mr Romanov's involvement with the club and now, one year later, it is time for me to concentrate on my responsibilities with the Lithuanian Football Federation.

"It became clear as soon as our two countries were drawn in the same Euro 2008 qualification group that this is the decision I would have to make.

"As soon as the draw was made, I informed both the club and the SFA delegation at the draw [David Taylor and John McBeath] that this was what I planned to do and everyone has been very understanding. There has been no pressure either from the Lithuanian Football Federation or the SFA to reach this decision but my prime consideration has to be to undertake more work back home.

"I am sad to have to leave Heart of Midlothian but I consider the club to be in a very good situation, especially as I know that Mr Romanov sees this project as one for the long term."

Liutauras Varanavicius went on to mount a stern defence of Vladimir Romanov, the chairman of UBIG, the Lithuanian investment company that own Hearts. "Vladimir Romanov always remains true to his words and while some rich people in the world like to spend their money on casinos and girls, he likes to spend his on worthy projects," he reflected.

"He is passionate about football and loves the passion the Scots have for their football teams. He wants to make his mark on football in a prime location and he always wants his teams to be the first and best in football."

Reports in the media in recent days have suggested that the Scottish FA is perturbed by the fact that Mr Romanov is not listed as an official office bearer at Tynecastle. Liutauras thinks that could change in the future. "I think the club will soon see Mr Romanov's name on the club structure and perhaps also the board," he suggested.

"I hope that there will be new Scottish names joining the list of people taking a seat in the boardroom," he continued. "Maybe this will come at the next board meeting or at a future meeting and also the club still has plans to have some form of involvement from the fans."

The former director also suggested that Hearts are not at 'war' with the game's governing body in Scotland. "I do not believe there is a row between the club and the SFA," he said. "I have discussed this with officials from the SFA and they themselves said there was no 'war'. There is no country in the world which does not have discussions and arguments about football matches, results and referees. Football is a human thing and all humans make mistakes.

With team selection strategy another big issue in recent days, there was also a clear message from Liutauras Varanavicius. "Mr Romanov does not get involved in team selection matters, nor does he continually wish to change things," he said. "I myself have worked with him for 12 years and during that time he has not sought to change me.

"I think there may be some communication problems which will be removed by the new structure the club has put in place with Jim Duffy as director of football and Graham Rix as head coach.

"When the club seeks new players there are a group of people involved but the key is that Mr Romanov listens to what everyone says and then he and the coaches agree which proposal to take forward."

Liutauras ended with a positive message for Hearts supporters as far as the future of the club goes. He said: "Mr Romanov is here for the long term and I wish him and Heart of Midlothian good luck and all the success in the world for the future.

"Vladimir is very confident he will achieve his goals with Hearts and that success will be achieved at the highest level. He is also confident that the club debt situation will be resolved (he has already forgiven part of it) and hopefully there will be significant progress on this in the next year."

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