Hammarby warn Hearts over Marti Cifuentes talks as the Tynecastle board prepare for a big decision
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Hammarby have warned Hearts that they must pay compensation in order to appoint Marti Cifuentes as manager at Tynecastle Park. The Spanish coach is contracted until December 2024 in Sweden and his club are prepared to fight to keep him.
Hearts held talks with Cifuentes last week as they seek a permanent replacement for former manager Robbie Neilson. Steven Naismith remains favourite for the position after overseeing the final seven games of last season on an interim basis. Several directors would be keen to appoint Naismith but the board are going through a formal process with names on their shortlist before making a final decision.
Cifuentes, 40, led Hammarby to third place in Sweden's Allsvenskan last season, but they currently sit 10th in a league which follows the calendar year. Despite recent reports of unrest within the Stockholm club, chief executive Richard von Yxkull spoke exclusively to the Evening News to declare that Hammarby want Cifuentes to stay.
“Sure, we want to keep him. He is our head coach and we have great co-operation with him,” he said. “If they [Hearts] want him, of course I would have to discuss this with our board. It would depend on the will of Marti but right now we have no intention to part with Marti. We have 100 per cent confidence in him and we want to keep him as our head coach.”
Hammarby would demand a compensation fee likely to run well into six figures if Cifuentes was appointed Hearts manager. “If we were to end up in negotiation with another club, then yes. He is under contract with us,” confirmed Von Yxkull.
Asked about Hearts’ interest on Swedish TV following Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Halmstad, Cifuentes remained notably coy. “I'm here. It is something that my agent is taking care of but I am under contract and want to get the best out of my players and to win games with Hammarby,” he said.
The Edinburgh club are due to decide who to appoint in the coming days, with players due to report back to Riccarton for pre-season training on June 27.