Celtic were today closing in on a “cash plus players” deal for Hibs midfielder Scott Allan which would see Dylan McGeouch return to Easter Road on a permanent basis.
The Glasgow club’s Old Firm rivals Rangers have pursued Allan for the past month, refusing to take no for an answer despite having three bids – the latest of which amounted to £275,000 – rejected out of hand by the Capital club. And now they are now set to lose out to the Premiership champions with, the Evening News understands, negotiations at an advanced stage and Allan, despite his boyhood allegiances to Rangers, prepared to move to Celtic Park.
Hibs have become increasingly infuriated with Rangers’ persistence in chasing Allan in defiance of their publicly stated stance that they wouldn’t do business with the Govan club, seen as one of their greatest rivals for the Championship title. However, in standing firm in the wake of continual overtures from what head coach Alan Stubbs described as “ambassadors” for Rangers, the Hibs boss conceded that while bids for Allan weren’t welcomed, it didn’t mean the former Dundee United and West Brom player wasn’t for sale under any circumstances.
Only yesterday in his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s league game against Morton, Stubbs said: “If someone comes in and offers us £3 million we have a right to discuss that at boardroom level and think what is in our best interest.”
Obviously, the cash offered by Celtic won’t be anywhere near that figure but, against that, Hibs have to consider the fact they have an unsettled player within their dressing-room – Allan having slapped in a written transfer request – at a time when they are maintaining a Premiership budget and facing another season in the second tier of Scottish football.
In a perfect world. Hibs would have prefered to have held onto last season’s Championship player of the year, Allan a rejuvenated player in Edinburgh after his move south turned sour. But the “Allan saga” has overshadowed the club in recent weeks and, with the transfer window open for another fortnight and more, it would appear to be in everyone’s interests that the player moves on, thus allowing Stubbs, his staff and players to concentrate on their target of promotion.
The disappointment of losing Allan would not only be eased by a sizeable sum which would help Stubbs strengthen his squad further but also by the return of McGeouch, who made 27 appearances for Hibs during last season’s loan spell, and another as yet unnamed player possibly on a season-long deal.
As the saga appears to finally be coming to a conclusion, Stubbs offered his own idea to prevent such situations arising in future, adamant the transfer window should shut before the season begins.
He said: “I honestly do not think the window should be open while the season has started. It is strange. You’ve started your season, you have your squad in place but you are still vulnerable to other teams making bids for your players. There should be a cut-off of the last Friday before the first league game kicks in. That takes away all this speculation and uncertainty. Ideally, I think you would then have a winter break, the window would open and then close before you start again.”
Despite the final outcome, Stubbs insisted Hibs have conducted their business “impeccably” even although they have found themselves under intense pressure. He said: “We were very clear when we said Scott Allan was not for sale to Rangers. We didn’t say he was not for sale at all, we just said he was not for sale to Rangers.
“I think we have been true to our word from day one. I think the club has been impeccable with the way they have dealt with this situation. We’ve had to deal with everything that’s gone one and I think as a club we can hold our heads high with the way we have dealt with it.”