HIBERNIAN head coach Alan Stubbs has issued a categoric assurance that Scott Allan will not be sold to Rangers, in the wake of the Ibrox club antagonising their rivals with two bids intended to lure the talented midfielder along the M8.
The Championship player of the year has been linked with the Glasgow side throughout the summer but, after an initial bid of around £175,000 was made, with payment terms to be negotiated, Hibs yesterday released a statement in which chief executive Leeann Dempster said the offer had been an easy one to reject and branding any approaches for their star man as “unwelcome”.
The bid, which was considered derisory by Hibs, also prompted Stubbs to hit out, claiming that it didn’t say a lot for what Rangers thought about the player and, coming just days before the sides meet in Saturday’s Petrofac Cup tie, it is being treated as mischief-making. Regardless, Stubbs was forced to clarify matters, stating that his main playmaker would not be joining their rivals.
“I can categorically say, yes. Scott Allan will not be going to Rangers,” said Stubbs yesterday.
He revealed he had called Rangers manager Mark Wharburton that morning to appraise him of that fact and had hoped that would be an end to it.
“I have a good relationship with Mark. It was me who made the phone call and I was making Mark aware of our stance. It is just respect and it was a respectful phone call.
“I can’t answer for how people behave and respond, I can only answer questions on my football club. How other people behave and go about their business I can’t hold their hand and tell them what to do.
“It is up to other clubs how they do their business. We will do ours how we see fit. But whenever I have come across Mark he has been a respectful guy and I don’t see him being anything other than that with regards to this situation.”
But, shortly after the press conference ended, it was revealed that Rangers had not given up the chase, responding to that phone call by upping the offer to around £250,000 – a figure unlikely to sway anyone at Hibs, despite the suggestion that Allan has made it clear to his employers that he is keen to make the switch.
“We’ve issued a statement and that is our stance,” said Stubbs. “That is where we’re at – nothing’s changed. We can’t stop other clubs from putting bids in but, once a bid comes in, we have a responsibility to respond to it – and we’ve responded to it.”
The Hibs hierarchy also turned down a bid from Dundee United in the January transfer window and have made it clear that they will continue to rebuff all offers.
“We are fully within our means to do what we’ve done,” said Stubbs, who was supervised by Dempster and head of football operation George Craig as he spoke to the media. “Scott has a year left on his contract and our stance is the same as what it was two months ago. We, as a club, are prepared to let Scott run his contract down. It’s irrelevant whether it’s £5,000, £50,000, £100,000, we’re not prepared to sell him.”
In the statement Dempster said: “There has been a lot of speculation in recent weeks regarding Rangers and their intention to bid for our player. That bid arrived three days before the two sides are due to meet in the first match of the season. It was an easy bid to reject. Scott Allan is one of Scotland’s best midfield talents and last season’s Championship player of the year, and any approaches for him are unwelcome.”
With the player apparently favouring a move to Rangers, though, the concern could be that his form dips or he becomes an unsettling influence in the dressing room but Stubbs says Hibs have been very up-front with their prize asset. “Myself and Scott have a very good respect for each other and I don’t see any reason why that should change,” said Stubbs.
“He’s a professional footballer. This is nothing new, these things happen at football clubs. But our stance is very strong – we are not prepared to sell Scott Allan because he is fundamental to what we want to achieve.
“No matter who you are, you don’t sell your best players, especially to your closest rivals.
“I’ve spoken with Scott and told him exactly the situation, that there has been an offer and that it has been rejected.
“He was aware, I’m sure his advisors have told him. I’m sure they’ve told him everything. But we are trying to put together a team which we feel will have a chance of being close for promotion this season.”
Stubbs’ hope is that the speculation will die down and the 23-year-old will remain focused enough to repeat the feats of last season. Stubbs is adamant that a reprise of that form will earn him a move bigger and better club than Rangers.
“My relationship with Scotty is very good and because there’s been an offer it’s not going to change the way I speak to Scotty, certainly, from my point of view. We’ve worked really well together. This has been Scotty’s year in professional football. There’s a reason for that. We’ve helped Scotty get to a level and we feel he’s capable of playing higher. It’s no coincidence and we feel we want him to carry it on for one more year.
“The thing is, though, that Scotty has an option of – at the end of this season, potentially, I feel – playing at the top level. I honestly believe Scotty can play in the Premier League in England. I can’t say that about everybody. ”
That depends if he can maintain the standards set last term when he ran the show in countless Championship matches, including head to heads with Rangers, and proved key to Hibs’ progress into the Premiership play-off.
“If he can play even better, then he could get an even better Premier League club,” added Stubbs.