Pride or prejudice? — the Scott Allan saga

Scott Allan, courtesy of SNS

written by our newest contributor – Calvin Campbell  – reposted with permission

Only in the goldfish bowl of Scottish football would a transfer story relating to a player’s potential move between two second tier clubs attract so much attention, but it would seem that any emerging rumour involving either half of the Old Firm north of Hadrian’s Wall is enough to send fans, professionals and journalists into a frenzy.

Of course, I make reference to the long-drawn-out saga that has surrounded Scott Allan, Hibs’ dynamic playmaker who has now tendered a written transfer request following two bids from his boyhood heroes, Rangers, which were both swiftly rebuffed by his current employers.

The fees tabled by Rangers have been labelled as derisory by Hibs fans and those of other teams looking in, and at a glance, £225,000 does seem low in exchange for the Scottish Championship Player of the Season. However, Allan is in the final year of his contract, and by tendering his transfer request, has made it abundantly clear that he does not see his long term footballing future at Easter Road.

The fact that this request has been submitted following two bids from the team he has supported since childhood makes slight allusion to his desired destination. It is no secret that Allan has a strong affection for Rangers, with small asides on his social media accounts referencing his support for the boys in royal blue. One picture shows a pair of green and white football boots, recently obtained from sponsors, under which a friend highlights his distaste for the colours Allan will be wearing. Allan then goes on to agree with this assessment, and justifies the new footwear by declaring ‘I agree, but I have to wear them.’

a young Scott Allan

In another, a friend leaves a comment reading ‘WATP’, an acronym for ‘We Are The People’, a popular slogan of self-endearment used by the Rangers faithful. Allan replies directly, stating ‘Indeed we are’.

Although these appear to be small indicative factors, which many would laugh off as irrelevant, these are certainly pieces of evidence which point towards his love for Rangers, and being a club which gets under one’s skin rather easily, these pieces of evidence certainly add fuel to the flames of speculation.

So what are the possible outcomes then? Through a couple of club statements, Hibs have reiterated time and again their lack of willingness to part with what is seen as their talisman to a direct divisional rival, and also a direct promotion rival. Without Rod Petrie ruling the boardroom with an iron-fist, a man well known for siphoning transfer fees from fellow Scottish clubs for Hibs best talent, it certainly seems that the combination in resolve of Chief Executive Leean Dempster and manager Alan Stubbs will take a lot of breaking down, and definitely more than £225,000 could hope to do.

Scott Allan & Alan Stubbs, courtesy of SNS

As mentioned, Allan is out of contract at the end of this season, and as such will be available on a pre-contract agreement at the beginning of the new year. It is being widely reported that should Hibs stand firm and resist any further advances from Rangers, that Allan will pen a deal with the Light Blues when he is able to, with Rangers thus acquiring his services for nothing.

The Hibs’ view is that they would rather lose Allan without a fee in return rather than strengthen the team who is being touted to go toe to toe with them for the Championship title this season, and with it, automatic promotion back to the Premier League. The cost to them would not only be the immediate loss of their best player, but also the immediate strengthening of their direct opponents for the title, not to mention the impact such an outcome would have on the rest of the squad at Easter Road.

The fans’ backlash would be furious too. Having taken a brief skim through some Hibs forums in order to gauge feeling, it would seem that some are even in favour of giving Allan away to Celtic for nothing during this transfer window, in order to ensure that Rangers cannot land their man. This is a point of bemusement with me. I am all too aware that Rangers are going to be in direct competition with Hibs in the forthcoming campaign, however, this stance in terms of ‘giving Allan away’ to Celtic, preventing him from sealing his dream move, begins to show a shade of inane dislike towards Rangers.

It is rare to see Rangers referred to as this on these forums. The alternatives of ‘Sevco’, ‘Huns’ or ‘Zombies’ are now ingrained into the vernacular of most opposition supporters, which in itself tells a story of loathing, and rejoice in Rangers well documented financial troubles. It has become a point of principle among many of these keyboard-warriors, not that Allan will remain at Hibs, but that he will move on to anyone but Rangers.

courtesy of Neil Hanna

There is no doubting that Scott Allan would be an improvement to the Rangers squad. He was far and away the shining light in the Championship last season and was deserving winner of the Player of the Season award. His skill on the ball and keen eye for a killer pass are characteristics which would make him an attractive prospect for a whole string of potential suitors. But do Rangers really need him?

Rangers 6-2 win at Easter Road on Saturday, in what was Mark Warburton and his new-look squad’s first competitive fixture, may provide some evidence to the contrary.

Having been decidedly lacklustre in the midfield department since the departure of Lewis Macleod to Brentford, the all-action, bustling debuts of Andy Halliday and Jason Holt will have pleasured the Rangers loyal no end. Halliday, another died-in-the-wool supporter, capped his debut with a fantastic 25 yard effort, which clipped off the underside of the crossbar and in, sealing a dream start to the Ibrox career of a boy who grew up on the Copland Road, a stone’s throw from Ibrox.

Andy Halliday & Scott Allan, courtesy of SNS

The industrious performances of the two new boys in the engine room even managed to bring Nicky Law onto something approximating a good game, a player who I have lambasted as a passenger in the past couple of seasons. It does seem that the Warburton rejuvenation is rubbing off on the players who endured some troublesome times under Ally McCoist, and this can only be a good thing for Rangers, who will be keen to return to the top table and challenge their old rivals Celtic at the earliest opportunity.

In my opinion, Rangers do not need Scott Allan. No player is bigger than a club, and if any club was to be used for this analogy, it would be Rangers. There is no question that he would add flair and creativity, however, we are in possession of adequate attacking threats in the midfield area. The whole soap opera now seems to matter less about the potential benefits for Rangers, or hindrances for Hibs, and more about a point of principle (or prejudice) between the two clubs.

Viewing the tweets of some Hibs fans following the announcement that Allan had officially handed in a transfer request earlier this evening made for some shocking and quite disgusting reading. Some were wishing death upon him, whilst others hailed abuse and conveyed their wish that he contract a severe illness, his diabetes worsens, or that he suffers a career threatening injury. It is in no doubt in my mind that, had the potential suitors involved in this debacle been a team from Glasgow’s East End, such extreme emotions among the followers of the Cabbage would not have been stirred.

Rangers also copped it rather heavily from some sections of the press, with BBC’s Alasdair Lamont questioning the morality of Rangers timing behind their bids, a few days before the teams faced each other in the Petrofac Training Cup 1st Round. These accusations of immorality are levelled at Rangers, however, Celtic, fresh from signing Dundee United’s three best players in recent months, escape unscathed by any criticism from the press.

Celtic paid £250,000 for Gary Mackay-Steven, a player of undoubted ability, who was also in the final year of his contract. It could also be claimed that had Dundee United managed to keep a hold of Nadir Ciftci, Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, that they would be in a much healthier position from which to mount a challenge to Celtic’s dominance of the top tier of Scottish football. All this whilst United are managed by a former Celtic player, who is receiving a portion of these transfer fees. None of this is questioned, whereas Rangers making a genuine attempt to strengthen their squad is hounded on as if it were an atrocity.

Can someone tell me when the Petrofac Cup suddenly took on such an aura of significance? Answers on a postcard please.

Overall, following Hibs latest rebuttal, I am almost sure that Allan will not be playing at Ibrox come the end of the window, however I am also almost sure that he will not move anywhere else. Hibs face the prospect of carrying an unhappy player around their squad for the whole league campaign, and the potential cause for unrest among the dressing room cannot be ignored. Judging by Saturday’s result, Rangers are more than capable of mounting a successful bid for the league title with or without Allan’s services, something else which flies in the face of Hibs treatment of Allan like a kind of Cristiano Ronaldo style talismanic presence.

Allan’s previous social media interactions, plus images circulating purporting to show him out drinking with some members of the Rangers squad following the match on Saturday, make it clear as day that we wants to come home to Ibrox, but it seems likely that Hibs will stick by their guns.

It remains to be seen how the biggest Scottish transfer story of the summer will affect the two clubs involved in the drama. It does seem that Hibs have backed themselves into an unwelcome corner, either facing the wrath of angry supporters or the sulk of a disappointed Allan, whereas Rangers seem to have rattled their rivals and will be prepared to look elsewhere for new recruits between now and the end of August.

I can’t help but think that Allan will pull on the famous royal blue one day, it just remains to be seen when this day will come.

Calvin Campbell has also written for Football League World, Do the Bouncy, & his own blog Famous Glasgow Rangers.  You can follow him on Twitter @eujrsc

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