Steven Naismith tells Hearts fans not to panic over contract talks

Steven Naismith launches the search for nominees to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of FameSteven Naismith launches the search for nominees to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame
Steven Naismith launches the search for nominees to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame
Steven Naismith today told Hearts fans not to panic over his unsigned contract and insisted he is confident of staying at Tynecastle Park.

Negotiations aimed at bringing the Scotland forward to Edinburgh permanently are ongoing, with his Norwich City contract expiring at the end of the month.

Major parts of the move are already agreed but Hearts and Naismith are still debating some of its finer points. The 32-year-old stated he is in no major rush and advised any unsettled supporters to “relax”.

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Complicating the matter is the fact he will be due an extra month’s wages from Norwich if he enters July as a free agent. That payment applies in England to cover out-of-contract players. It would equate to more than £150,000 for Naismith and may be why he is content to wait.

He stressed he is not looking to move anywhere other than Hearts at the moment. “The main things are in place. There has to be a bit of come and go in both directions – where I’m coming from and what Hearts can offer. It’s not your straightforward contract,” he explained.

“When you’re younger it’s about earning as much money at the highest position you can play. Now there are more factors and it’s about making sure everybody is happy.

“There are a few things Hearts have that are non-negotiable and there are probably a few things which are non-negotiable from my side. It is relaxed. I’m comfortable at the moment that it will happen.

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“I’m not actively looking at all different options at the moment. This is one I’m going to look to try and get done. We’re still getting there.”

He has spent the last 18 months on loan at Hearts from Norwich. Asked what his message to Tynecastle fans would be, he replied: “Relax. Both previous times I’ve signed for Hearts, I spoke to the manager and told him my thoughts.

“I’ve said what I want and I’ve told them I’m not actively going to look elsewhere. I’ll sit and negotiate and they seem to think we can get to resolution which suits everybody. It’s just getting to that point.

“If it gets to the stage where I’m a bit uneasy with it and thinking it might not get done, then I will tell the manager and say I need to start looking. I don’t think it will get to that to be honest.”

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Hearts won 63 per cent of last season’s matches with Naismith in the team, yet just 15 per cent without him. Clamour for the striker to complete a move to Tynecastle is therefore understandable.

He was the club’s top goalscorer last season with 14 goals in 27 appearances despite missing almost five months through injuries. However, he is not surprised by owner Ann Budge’s negotiating.

“Not really. It’s a big deal for them. The things I’m asking for are a big commitment for them and they are working out what they want to do. Are they willing to take that gamble? Like all negotiations, they are trying to get the best deal for them and I’m trying to get the best deal for myself.

“Ann is a proper businesswoman. It’s about making sure I’m covered in future with things I want to do when I finish. For the club, it’s about making sure they aren’t leaving themselves vulnerable.

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“Hearts have been good for me over the last 18 months. I would happily continue on if it’s all right but I’m not daft enough to just say: ‘Right, I’ll sign.’ With any negotiation, you make sure it’s right.”

Naismith does not want a coaching role at Riccarton. “I won’t start coaching while I’m still playing. I’m not interested in that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hearts’ will play Arbroath in a pre-season friendly at Gayfield on Saturday, June 29 (3pm).