Home is where the Hearts are for Skacel

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The Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel will remain at Tynecastle until 2008 after the Edinburgh club agreed an undisclosed fee with Marseilles yesterday.

The 26-year-old Czech Republic international arrived in Gorgie on a one-year loan deal with a two-year option last summer. Skacel has since become a cult hero with the fans after scoring 16 goals from midfield this season.

A Hearts spokesman said: "The clubs have agreed an undisclosed fee. Hearts and Marseilles agreed terms before Rudi joined, which has resulted in the club exercising their right to retain the midfielder for a further two years in addition to this season."

The deal, however, comes in the wake of yet another alleged spitting incident involving Skacel. In February, he was accused of spitting on the Dundee United defender Stuart Duff during their Premier League game at Tannadice.

Then, on Sunday, the Celtic captain, Neil Lennon, also claimed the Czech midfielder had spat at him. A newspaper photograph appeared to show the incident, but Hearts have backed Skacel in strongly denying the allegations.