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By ESPN Staff

Thomson to leave Hearts

Defender Craig Thomson is to leave Hearts, the Scottish Premier League club have confirmed.

The 20-year-old was suspended last month following a conviction for "lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour''.

And in a short statement on their official website on Sunday, Hearts announced Thomson's time at the Edinburgh club would come to an end in the near future.

"Craig Thomson will leave Heart of Midlothian Football Club imminently,'' it said.

"The club has considered all implications surrounding the issue and has decided to find a solution for the player to leave the club over the forthcoming days.''

The announcement completes a U-turn by the club, who had originally announced they would stand by Thomson after he pleaded guilty, was fined and placed on the sex offenders register last month in relation to his inappropriate conduct towards two underage girls over the internet.

That decision prompted a huge outcry, with many people calling on Hearts to sack the player while one of the club's backers - MacB Water - withdrew their support as official water sponsor of the Jambos, a deal worth more than £5,000.

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies also expressed his concern at the furore engulfing the club, while former defender Alan McLaren said he hoped Thomson "will not pull on a Hearts shirt again''.

The Tynecastle club responded to the criticism by suspending Thomson two weeks ago, before confirming their intention to release the full-back.

A club statement at first put Thomson's misconduct down to "naivety and possible wrong outside influence'' before owner Vladimir Romanov released a bizarre tirade against the football "mafia'' and "maniacs'' who he claimed were conspiring against the club.

On June 28, Thomson was suspended with immediate effect and two days later police confirmed they were making enquiries into the "possibility that another person has grounds for complaint'' against the player.

Talks have since been ongoing between club officials, the right-back and his representatives with today's announcement coming as no surprise.

Thomson, a dead-ball specialist, made more than 50 appearances for Hearts, but his top-flight career now appears to be over.

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