ALAN Stubbs has revealed he was prepared to leave Scott Allan kicking his heels in the stand for the entire season rather than sell the midfielder to Rangers.
The Hibs manager admitted this would have represented “the worst possible scenario”. However, Stubbs insisted anything was better than strengthening rivals Rangers at the start of such a pivotal campaign, even losing money on the player and paying him to sit out the season.
What the manager referred to as the “Scott Allan situation” threatened to de-rail Hibs’ season when it had barely started as the midfielder agitated to be allowed to move to Rangers, the club he supported.
But Hibs remained defiant in the face of three separate bids from Ibrox and a transfer request submitted by Allan, releasing a statement in which they stressed they had no wish “to transfer a valuable player to strengthen a major rival in the battle to win the Championship and gain promotion back to the Premiership”.
In the end Allan, who could have signed a pre-contract agreement with another club in January, was transferred to Celtic for a reported £300,000, allowing Hibs to bring in three midfielders in the shape of Dylan McGeouch from Parkhead, John McGinn from St Mirren and Liam Henderson who signed on loan from Celtic.
Hibs’ strong stance is seemingly being vindicated as they prepare to travel to Ibrox on Monday very much still in the Championship title race.
“Honestly, we were very, very relaxed with the Scott Allan situation,” said Stubbs. “I think everyone thought it was just a matter of time until it happened. But it was never, ever going to happen. We were prepared to face the worst possible scenario, and that was for Scotty to sit in the stands – unfortunately.
“We didn’t want that, we didn’t want that whatsoever. Not for my relationship with Scotty did I want that and not for his career. But we were prepared to do that.
“And from that we have definitely come out of that stronger. As a football club and as a squad we have certainly come out of it stronger. John McGinn has been fantastic, Dylan McGeouch, it’s been a little bit stop-start for him, but he is such an important player for us.
“Liam Henderson, for 19 years old, has a fantastic future ahead of him. To bring those three in for one going out, well, it is self-explanatory.”
Stubbs believes the long-running saga cost Hibs in terms of results at the beginning of the season. With Allan’s every touch being cheered by the visiting Rangers fans after he came on as substitute in the second half of their Petrofac Training Cup meeting in July, Hibs lost 6-2. They also lost their first league match of the campaign at Dumbarton, with an unsettled Allan having returned to the starting line-up.
“We needed to try and move on from that and address it as quickly as possible and we did,” said Stubbs.
“I would have liked it to have been done quicker. I’ve got to say, it had a huge impact on our first two results.
“That’s not an excuse. I don’t make excuses willy nilly, but it did. It affected everyone.”