Football: Johnson's spell at Everton cut short

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The Independent Online
TOMMY JOHNSON'S loan move from Celtic to Everton has been called off with a month of his contract still to run. The injury-plagued forward has fallen out of favour with the Celtic coach, John Barnes, this season and was hoping to resurrect his career at Goodison Park.

But the 28-year-old only managed three substitute appearances in a two- month stint during which he picked up a thigh injury and, with the Everton manager Walter Smith unwilling to make the deal permanent, Johnson has opted to move back to Glasgow.

"Tommy was keen for us to make up our minds but I found that difficult because of his lack of match fitness," Smith said. "He missed most of last season because of injury and had been building himself up in the reserves but unfortunately got injured again last week. We came to a mutual decision that he should go back to Celtic."

The Scottish Media Group has blocked an alleged proposal by the former Hearts chairman, Leslie Deans, to buy out the chief executive Chris Robinson's share in the club.

It was reported yesterday that Deans would be prepared to offer Robinson pounds 2m. But SMG, which has invested pounds 8m in the Tynecastle club, said such a deal would be a breach of procedure and issued a statement hours before the club's annual meeting.

It read: "Following recent press speculation on the sale or purchase of shares by Leslie Deans or Chris Robinson in Heart of Midlothian plc, Scottish Media Group wishes to clarify its position.

"As part of the subscription arrangements which accompanied SMG's investment, New Hearts Ltd, Chris Robinson and Leslie Deans agreed separately to give pre-emption rights to SMG should these shareholders wish to sell any of their ordinary shares.

"These pre-emption rights ensure that in the first instance shares must be offered to SMG. These rights remain intact and preclude any sale of these shareholdings without SMG's consent."

Kilmarnock will have to be patient if they are to secure the services of the forward Shefki Kuqi. The Albanian-born player, who is currently with HJK Helsinki, has been on trial at Rugby Park but will also have a spell with Queen's Park Rangers before deciding where his future lies.