FIFA delay is frustrating for Hearts and Johnsen

Bjorn Johnsen

Bjorn Johnsen

6
Have your say

HEARTS are prepared to wait for international clearance for Bjorn Johnsen, although head coach Robbie Neilson admitted the striker is itching to begin his career in Edinburgh.

Tynecastle officials are confident they have not broken any FIFA rules by signing Johnsen, despite the Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia claiming he has a legally-binding contract with them.

The 24-year-old signed a three-year deal in Edinburgh last week, however CSKA have threatened to report Johnsen and Hearts to FIFA.

Johnsen’s last club, Litex Lovech, were merged with Chavdar Etropole, with controversial owner Grisha Ganchev naming the new entity CSKA.

Ganchev claims Johnsen is under contract with the new club, who will play in the lowest tier of Bulgarian football this season after being relegated with debts of more than £10million.

Neilson admitted the issue is delaying international clearance but Hearts have the backing of the Scottish Football Association and UEFA and are adamant they have not acted improperly.

Johnsen, who holds Norwegian citizenship although born in the United States, is eager to have the move finalised as soon as possible.

“He is desperate to get going,” Neilson told the Evening News. “I’ve spoken to him and he was desperate to come here. We were desperate to get him. It’s taken a bit longer than we’d hoped but he’s willing to wait. He’s desperate to do well for Hearts and to play in Scotland.

“The hold up is the issue in Bulgaria. Getting international clearance is taking a little bit of time, probably longer than I would’ve expected. We’re working on it at the moment and we’re hopeful of getting it.

“I can see already Bjorn has got good talent. He’s athletic, he’s 6ft 5in, he’s got very good control and he’s really quick. He also uses his body well so he’s got good attributes.”

Neilson stressed Johnsen is not a like-for-like replacement for Osman Sow, however.

“They are two different players. You wouldn’t want to compare anybody to Osman, who did very well for us.

“The similarities are maybe in looks but Bjorn is a different type of player to Osman.”

Meanwhile, Hearts have loaned Bulgarian teenager Nikolay Todorov to Cowdenbeath until January. They want the 19-year-old to get some valuable game time at Central Park under coach Liam Fox.