HEARTS striker John Sutton has agreed a loan deal with Australia’s Central Coast Mariners which includes the option of a permanent transfer. However, the Englishman today insisted he still has unfinished business at Tynecastle.
Sutton is awaiting international clearance to finalise the move Down Under, where the Gosford-based Mariners top the national A-League and are poised to enter the Asian Champions League. The 28-year-old then intends to return to Hearts in time for next season and attempt to re-establish himself under manager Paulo Sergio.
“A loan deal has been agreed and I will be moving to Australia until the end of May,” said Sutton, who has failed to command a regular starting place since Sergio replaced Jim Jefferies in August last year.
“I am going out to a team who are top of the A-League and hopefully I can help them stay out in front. While I’m only viewing it as a short-term venture, I am excited about the move. I’m going out to get games but the long-term plan is to come back to Hearts. I still feel I have unfinished business at Tynecastle.
“Things changed for me at Hearts when the manager who signed me left. And things haven’t changed for the better for me personally. But I still hope to make a name for myself at Hearts. They are a really big club with a big fan base and I really do feel I can still be successful at Hearts.
“I am going out on loan to save the club some money. But if it was just down to money then the club could have sold a lot more players in January than they did.
“There is a financial aspect to my loan deal but I am sure there would have been takers for some of the other boys at Hearts if they had wanted to sell more players because they are all very good players.”
Hibs, St Mirren, St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Inverness were all interested in taking Sutton on loan but could not afford his £2500-a-week salary.
In any case, Hearts’ preference was always to loan the player to a club out with the Scottish Premier League.
Sutton has family in Sydney – an hour’s drive from Gosford – and is excited at the prospect of sampling the Asian Champions League, with matches potentially in countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Graham Arnold, coach of Central Coast Mariners, said: “The exposure of giving him the opportunity to play in the A-League and also the ACL was very appealing to him.
“He comes with a very good pedigree in Scotland and he is a similar player to Matty Simon, someone that can make us play different if we need to play different.
“He comes out with a record of a goal every two-and-a-half to three games in Scotland and we’re looking forward to John coming out and adding not only another set of legs but quite a deal of experience for our front line.”
Rudi Skacel, meanwhile, is keen for Hearts to press for Europe after signing a contract extension on transfer deadline day.
“I am pleased that the deal was done and that Mr Romanov has extended my stay at the club,” he told the club website.
“I am looking forward to the next few months. I want to help the club as much as I can and hopefully finish high enough to get back into Europe again.”