The Media Pressure On Hearts Over Shankland Is Ramping Up With Jackson Leading The Way.

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This morning, Keith Jackson turned in another of his dreadful articles, this time on the subject of Steven Naismith and his press conference before the Scottish Cup game at the weekend.

Here’s the thing; it is not difficult to see what Jackson is doing. This is the start of the media campaign to pressure Hearts into letting their best player go to Ibrox on the cheap.

The unsettling of Shankland himself has been underway for weeks.

Before I trash Jackson’s central point, let’s acknoweldge that he got a few things right.

I thought Naismith’s comments were terrible, and Hearts fans would have taken no comfort from them whatsoever. His assertion – and it’s not the first time he’s said it – that they would be fine without their only proven goal-scorer is patently ludicrous. The impression you get listening to Naismith is that keeping Shankland is not a priority.

Jackson trashed that argument in much the same way I had the day before.

He also expressed his suspicion that Shankland was left out so as not to cup tie him should he end up at another SPFL club and we all know which one that would be, which is the whole point. If that’s true though then everyone at Hearts will have to answer to their supporters should he sign on at Ibrox and then score against them in this tournament.

Jackson also put an actual cash amount on what Hearts are gambling with; a stunning £6 million bounty for the third-place finish and those guaranteed Group Stage games, whether in the Europa League or in the Conference League.

In spite of what a lot of Hearts fans think, that’s far more than Shankland is worth, far more than they would get for him on the open market … and certainly more than they will get for him selling him now to Ibrox, for whatever spare change they can scrape together. The most Ibrox will pay is between £3 million and £4 million probably including add-ons and in such pitifully low instalments that the club would be as well giving him away for free.

We’re entering the last week of the window. Whatever Hearts get for him, there is next to no chance of them bringing in a striker capable of matching his goal return. If such a striker was out there right now, cheap enough for Hearts to afford and yet capable of scoring the number of goals Shankland gets for them, Ibrox would be looking at him instead.

So yeah, Jackson’s article is clearly malicious, and designed to create problems inside the walls at Hearts, but in point of fact, Naismith is already causing his own problems with the way he comes across and the way he talks when this question is put to him.

But Jackson then repeated the great lie that will be heard over and over again in the course of the next few days as this reaches fever pitch; Hearts might have no choice but to accept Ibrox’s paltry offer if and when it comes. That is arrant nonsense of course.

The same narrative has been proposed time and time again about the likes of Abada and O’Riley and others at Celtic Park; the club might have no choice but to let them leave. And it suggests that clubs have no power whatsoever to protect themselves and keep valuable assets, when actually all clubs have to do is lay down the law and say “he’s not for sale.”

Say a late offer from Ibrox comes in. A low offer. With just days of the window left, are we really to believe that Hearts cannot simply reject it? That there’s some imperative at play here that says they have no option but to say “Yes, of course you can have our best player …”? What would happen if they did just reject it?

The media has one theory, I have another.

In the media’s theory, Shankland spits the dummy, goes in the huff, demands the transfer. Would that force Hearts’ hand? The media thinks it would, but what if it didn’t? Unhappy, unsettled player in the dressing room, and nobody wants that surely? This is their rationale for why Hearts will have no option but to cut their losses.

But that’s a narrow minded, pro-Ibrox viewpoint which pays no heed to the real world. Once Shankland is told he’s staying at Hearts come what may, what does he do then?

Brand himself a trouble maker, dig in his heels and refuse to play?

He has 18 months left on his deal so it’s not even like he can walk in the summer if that’s what he chooses to do. Hearts can hang onto him like grim death if that’s what they see as in their best interests.

Are Ibrox going to wait another year to get him? Cause in the minds of the hacks that’s the move he’s holding out for. But they can’t afford to wait and they won’t. So, Shankland will be at Hearts with his contract running down and the offer he wants will be gone.

At that point he has two options; knuckle down and play as well as he can so that wherever he does land next is at least half decent or he can act like a spoiled brat and head into a renegotiation at 30, a fading player with nothing to offer and no chance of getting the deal he thinks he deserves.

The big stage for him, if he wants to make his mark and impress England, is the Euros. If he downs tools for the second half of the season his chances of going with the Scotland squad shrink to just about zero; Steve Clark barely plays him as it is. He’s certainly not going to play someone in the huff and who has acted in an unprofessional manner.

All this is to say that this idea that Hearts simply have no choice but to sell Shankland should Ibrox come calling is entirely false.

The only fee that would make a difference to the club and tip the balance here is the sort that Ibrox simply cannot afford, and that should put an end to the story. But Jackson’s piece makes it clear that the hacks are willing to go low, to pressure both club and player, and to smooth the way for a low-ball bid.

The problem for Hearts fans isn’t Keith Jackson, although they are raging at him today for the piece. Their real problem is that their manager hasn’t issued a hands-off warning of any description and actually seems to be fairly relaxed about the prospect of Shankland going. I doubt he would be in the same frame of mind if the player was linked with Celtic.

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  • Tony B says:

    Naismith is a hun from Stewarton ; well known as such in those parts.
    His loyalties do not lie at Tynecastle.

    If it’s down to him he would sacrifice the diets for the full fat version every time, and in a heartbeat.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      He wisnae very loyal when he walked away in 2012, maybe he’s looking for forgiveness by delivering Shankland to them. Hearts would be mad to sell him before the summer.

  • Brian Klee says:

    James I’ve been reading your site for several years now, located in the states. Thanks for everything you provide for us, truly. I’m on several times daily and it’s basically the only source of Celtic info I read (unless you count Phil Mac Giolla Bháin). After my local Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, Celtic carved out a place in my heart back in my college days. Awakened something inside of me I didn’t know existed. Anyway just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for all you do.

  • Stewart says:

    As most press have you believe in Scotland any player linked with that club will crawl on their hands and knee’s to be part of it(as wee baz would say) he gets it,,,,Jackson like 99% of the press+media only seem to want to press the naritive we need a strong sevco, and if they come calling tip your cap, and take what your given,, in this case cupla hundred grand down and rest on never never,,hearts and their gutless board and nob head of a manger will never be anything,,they’re fans should be up in arms over what’s going on,

  • harold shand says:

    It’s now getting ramped up to f*ck because their top scorer this season could possibly be out for a while

  • Bob (original) says:

    If we are still looking for a striker, then why not Shankland?

    [Regardless of any player’s preference, money talks.]

    He is an experienced goal scorer in the SPL.

    Additionally, coud you imagine the psychological blow to ibrox if we nicked him?!

    We have the funds available: offer say c.£2.5M up front, cash.

    sevco just won’t be able to compete with that, imo.

    Shankland would offer competition & cover for Kyogo, and he offers

    a different option if coming off the bench as an impact player?

    An experienced signing at a ‘project player’ price: what’s not to like?

  • Captain Swing says:

    As I’ve been saying for some time, ill-informed muppets like Jackson overlook the fact Hearts are fan-owned. Contrary to a lot of people’s opinion, Hearts fans are not much better inclined towards Sevco than they are towards us. They have a significant dislike of them too, so the idea that they will flog him on the cheap to Sevco out of some forelock-tugging obligation or because they are closet Huns is well wide of the mark. If the player himself agitates for the move (as Naismith himself did all those years ago), it will cause problems but their directors will then have a judgment call – cash in or hold him to his contract and put up with a strop / sulk before the dust settles and he returns to the team…. Pierre Van Hooydonk style.

  • Fun time frankie says:

    Celtic should simply wait until the scum make an offer ,then add half a mill on top then see what the jam farts do

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Good shout Frankie,that’s what I’m thinking, imagine if we do that ,the hordes at ipox will spontaneously combust .

  • SSMPM says:

    Many of our fans talk about millions of pounds as though it was just sweetie money. If we were to bid for Shankland we’d get no financial return for the investment and I’m sure this is first and foremost in our board’s mind in relation to acquiring this experienced goal scoring SPL player that would most probably add to our deficiencies up front, even if played as a backup to Kyogo’s needs. We might not pay him as much the midden might haha given their well published player salaries.
    However I’m not his greatest fan and would prefer Miovski tbh though we have invested in project, development and loan players, paid their wages, attended financially to their medical needs, etc, and received little or nothing in return. Of course we’d have to pay wages above project wages.
    Thus on this occasion I think a cheeky bid to Hearts, to as a minimum stir the pot, would expose their intentions clearly to their fans if the rankers do come in with a low ball bid. Ensuring that if Hearts do accept their bid it’s of an amount nearer his £2/m value or we have a new striker that does score goals at SPL level. HH

    • Jim Duffy says:

      If we did sign him we would get a financial return,it’s called CL millions,sign him and we would have a far better chance of winning the league and qualifying for CL,rest assured that’s the way sevco board will be thinking,risk some money on shankland,well worth it if he helps them win the league and 60 million CL money it’s a no brainer.

    • JimBhoy says:

      I like it, agree no real return but if he stays 3 season and bangs in 50 goals worth a couple of mill I would say. Bit of a Griff about him.

      Takes him out of the huns reach also. Pisses them off like we did Broonie. Shows who has the real elbow power in Scotland.

    • Danny breen says:

      We would win title with him,thats 40 million

  • Effarr says:

    Old Firm Sevco could include a clause that in the event of him winning the league for them that there would be an extra couple of million for Hearts and a tidy bonus for him also. He will no doubt be with OFS by the end of this month, that is why he wasn`t cup-tied on Sarurday. Celtic will need to act accordingly or it could turn out to be a disaster. They are lucky ex-players are willing to help them, like the Kilmarnock and Hearts set backs, a complete
    polar opposite of the conduct of ex-celts.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    I don’t read Jackson ever but see plenty about him and his pro Sevco pish on here and I’m glad that him and the rest of the Crayon Scribblers in The Scottish Football Media and their lies are reported on here and elsewhere…

    That reporting makes it clear on here that he’s a huge Sevco sympathiser –

    He is also a Sevco and Liverpool fan (probably like a lot of glory hunters that became teenagers around 1990)…

    How do I know that you might ask ? – Well here’s how…

    My sister is friendly with the ex partner of a former Sevco player and was always up at her house long before she met this ex Sevco player (actually I must apologise to any lurking Huns as they were actually called Rangers back then)…
    Consequently this lassie who was a Celtic supporter (you’d be surprised how many of them date local Celtic supporting ladies) and my sister and the group of girls still drank and partied and several times Jackson was up at the house to do ‘interviews over booze’
    Jackson got pissed quite often while obtaining his pish for his rag and made very clear that he was very much for the blue half of Glasgow and the red half of Liverpool…

    Most Crayon Scribblers I’d imagine would go to Murray (paid for by taxpayers) Park or whatever the hell it’s called these days to do interviews but he went to the house of that player to do it all at the expense of his hosts and their drink as well even though they could obviously well afford it –

    The thing is ma sister said he was a really pleasant guy and very plausible company and drank like a fish in the water – She is into fashion and design and not football (though she would soon enough date a player of ANY club no doubt) but now after reading all about Jackson on here in the last year or so since I found The Celtic Blog I can see why he is so pro Sevco as he admitted it at the house of an ex Sevco player and I have first hand concrete evidence of this…

    Ma sister was there and heard him state who his favourite Scottish and English teams are !

  • JimBhoy says:

    I have a funny feeling Shankland may end up at Celtic in the number 10 role. His contract is up end of next year, Hearts will try and punt him while his stock is high.

    I’d offer them £2.75m with another 500k on add ons, games played, goals scored mostly. Give them £2m up front. They wont get near that return from Rangers. He would be an able replacement for Turnbull.

    Many a non Celtic supporter have become great players for our club. Keep it Football.

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