HIBS today released a strong statement insisting they have no intention of selling Scott Allan to Rangers.
There are several great reasons Hibs should stick with this stance for the duration of the current transfer window. Eight reasons, in fact, and here they are.
1) They’ll lose their talisman
Hibs undoubtedly improved as a team last season when Allan finally shook off the pre-season cobwebs and established himself as the first name on the Easter Road team sheet. Calling them a one-man team would be too harsh, rather they missed a vital cog which Allan provided once he began talking control of the midfield. Prior to that point Hibs had been playing well but failing to consistently turn performances into victories. Once Allan really hit his stride they were unbeatable over the Christmas period, and the national media was all too happy to collectively crown him the league’s best player.
If Allan goes the team could easily regress to their identity before his elevation to star status: a nice team capable of playing well, but one which drops too many easy points and cannot be relied on.
2) He’s (pretty much) irreplaceable
At any level it’s difficult to find a player who expertly performs the role Allan does for Hibs. His self-belief sees him demand the ball from teammates and dictate the play. There may be one or two better midfielders out there available to Hibs, especially if they choose to reinvest any money into finding a replacement, but the chances of getting someone with a similar talent level and confidence to take matches by the scruff of the neck are very slim.
Then there’s the other kind of midfielder, the worst kind of midfielder. You know the ones. Those who demand the ball from teammates, centre halves in particular, before attempting cross-field passes all over the place, despite having no ability to play in this manner effectively.
Worse than not replacing him at all, Hibs could replace Allan with one of those.
3) They’ll strengthen their biggest rivals
Under no circumstances can Hibs sell their best player to Rangers and not immediately wave the white flag with regards to this season’s title race. Not only does it dramatically weaken Hibs, it would make Mark Warburton’s team stronger. If it were Celtic coming in for the player then entertaining an offer would be understandable. He’s got a year left on his deal and if he’s not enthusiastic about signing a new one then it makes sense to cash in.
Allan doesn’t guarantee a title by any means. But there’s a definite feeling around Easter Road that they can ‘do a Hearts’ and better Rangers this season. And with Rangers fitting in so many new pieces at once it’s hard to argue with such reasoning. Sell Allan and they’re already settling for the lottery of the play-offs. And that didn’t end so well last time.
4) Team disruption
Without having much information on the majority of Rangers’ new signings, it’s difficult to judge where the Scottish Championship crown is headed. One reason to back Hibs, however, is that their players have a cohesion. With the exception of Dylan McGeouch, no first-team player they wanted to keep has skipped town. Instead they’ve managed to strengthen in a few areas and will be ready to attack the 2015/16 campaign with the same gusto they showed after a stuttering first two months of last season.
Ripping out such a valuable player will likely proceed a system change, with one or two more players joining to replace the outgoing star. Suddenly there is no cohesion and the remaining players are left questioning the ambition of the club, all the while phoning their agents trying to find a ticket on the next train out.
5) The fan backlash will be incredible
Hibs fans have been downright abused over the past eight years. The ‘golden generation’ were all sold off with a solitary league cup and third place finish to show for it, a succession of completely guff managers were brought in to try and replace Tony Mowbray, and the support has often had the finger of blame levelled at it from the boardroom. All in all it’s led to increasing resentment of those in charge during the Rod Petrie era. The nadir should have been the 2012 Scottish Cup Final, but things somehow still got worse.
It’s no surprise crowds have dwindled. Hibs average league attendance last season was 10,170, that’s down almost 4,500 from 2006/07, the season of the League Cup triumph. Without a sustained title race, even if Allan stays, that figure will drop even further without Hearts and the inflated crowd brought by Edinburgh derbies. And if Allan goes, god knows how much lower that number will drop as yet more supporters refuse to come back under the current regime.
6) Dempster would burn bridges she herself built
It seems that rock bottom has been struck and Hibs are on the way back up again. Trying her best to drip petrol on this modest little fire of positivity is chief executive Leeann Dempster. There’s been very little reason to fault her. Even her unorthodox posting on fans forums received praise for the attempt at connecting with supporters on a personal level after years of the board refusing to go near their own customer base with a barge pole. She speaks well, there’s been an increased emphasis on marketing the club and she’s made the correct choice when it’s come to big decisions, i.e. sacking Terry Butcher and hiring Alan Stubbs. The fans have faith in her and that’s a massive contrast from her predecessor.
It doesn’t take much for football fans to turn on a club executive. It certainly takes less than selling your best player for a modest fee. Dempster would go from the leader of a new tomorrow to someone tarred with the same brush as the previous chief. And if Petrie should thinking about going above her head and selling Allan then he may as well go into hiding, such will be the fury of the Hibs support.
7) It’ll alienate the manager
Stubbs spent the entire pre-season repeating the same message: Allan was not for sale. It is understood he even instructed the player to talk to the national media and reaffirm his commitment to the club.
If Allan is sold it’ll make Stubbs feel and look foolish. It will also look like the board has little faith in his capabilities to get Hibs promoted, because a return to the top flight is worth more financially than the offer Rangers made. He could feel his position is untenable and may look elsewhere for employment.
Hibs finally appear to have found someone capable of managing the team, and boy if it hasn’t taken a while. Even if a second placed finish and the failure to reach the play-off final, along with another Scottish Cup capitulation, may not sound like a particularly impressive maiden campaign, fans were impressed with the style of the team and, for a change, they didn’t suffer from fatalism in Edinburgh derbies.
Another managerial hunt – the eighth in nine years – is the last thing Hibs need in their current rebuilding period.
8) Commercial reasons
Three words: Allan No 10. Whether it’s the attacking midfielder, playmaker, second striker or trequartista, players with the No 10 shirt always have a special place in the hearts of supporters. Hundreds will want to get their hands on an Allan No 10 jersey. He’s the most talented player at the club with the coolest number. There’s no need for marketing, just let him play, the shirts sell themselves.
Unless he plays for Rangers, of course, where he could be their No 10. Tellingly, Rangers signed Jason Holt yesterday and handed the attacking midfielder the No 23 shirt. They’re leaving the 10 shirt open for someone. It’s up to Hibs to make sure it isn’t Scott Allan.