Bristol City star reveals key role ex-Leeds Utd and Bristol Rovers man played in transfer
Naismith joined on a three-year deal last May, making a shock move from Luton Town, who had just been involved in the Championship play-offs. The 31-year-old had won the Player of the Year award with the Hatters but opted for a move to the West Country.
Nigel Pearson and the transfer committee had sold the dream of their hopes of reaching the Premier League, as the former Leicester City boss continued to put a stamp down on his squad and shape the team in his image.
It has now emerged however, that Naismith’s agent, Lee Matthews, played a part in getting him to Bristol City. Matthews, who set up with Sports Management International after retiring, once played for the Robins.
Matthews began his career at Leeds United, but in 2001 made the move to City, where he spent three years, scoring nine goals in 43 appearances. In the time he spent at the club, he also had a loan spell at inter-city rivals Bristol Rovers, and was later allowed to leave for Port Vale, where he enjoyed the best scoring spell of his career. His retirement after leaving Livingston in 2007, saw him turn in to a football agent, and last summer he was able to reunite with his former club.
“My agent was a big factor, he played for Bristol City back then,” said Naismith in an interview with the club’s media channel Robins TV.
“As soon as there was interest from them, it was close to his heart and he was telling me how good the place is, the facilities and the people around the club as well as the fans. He was big on it as well and it felt right.”
Naismith’s departure from Kenilworth Road, did draw some criticism from supporters of his previous club, as well as Luton themselves. They were unhappy at how City had announced the signing before they could announce his departure, despite the player being free to join a new club given he was soon to be a free agent.
He was the second signing of the summer after the arrival of Mark Sykes, who has featured regularly in various positions for City in his first campaign. The state-of-the-art facilities at the High Performance Centre are what shaped Naismith’s first impressions of the club. The Scotsman did not compare it to Rangers, but said that he wanted to make use of the facilities City have, that he did not take full use of during the earlier stages of his career.
“There was a lot of factors, I was running down my contract at Luton, Naismith admitted. “There was different options there and staying at Luton was an option with a manager that I loved and respected. I just felt for my career the way it was going, it doesn’t remind me a lot of Rangers, but it’s got a lot of stuff that Rangers had here; the facilities are second to none.
“To go from Murray Park and having it all right there for me and not taking full advantage of kind of going full circle to working myself to a place where you’ve got everything right at your fingertips.
He added: “Just to come through the door, work with the manager, the squad. A massive part for me I looked at and said the goals the squad was scoring last year and me being a defender, I thought that’s a real challenge for me, if I can help and sort the defence, I believe it’s a recipe for big success. As of yet we’ve not got it right but we will get it right. I’m convinced, I’ve signed for three years.”