Celtic boss Strachan happy to deny Hibs a fee

ROD PETRIE today revealed Hibs won't get a penny from Celtic for Derek Riordan after the Glasgow club used SPL rules governing young players to sign the Easter Road striker two days after his 24th birthday.

Riordan agreed to sign a pre-contract with Celtic only hours after the Hoops informed Hibs that they intended to speak to their top scorer.

And today it emerged that his deal with Gordon Strachan's side will run from January 18th next year - just two days after he turns 24.

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Under SPL rules that means Hibs won't be entitled to any compensation whatsoever for a player who has been at the club for some ten years, coached and developed to the point where he has been their top scorer for the past three seasons.

Today chairman Petrie defended Hibs' approach to the saga, insisting Riordan had been offered a deal which would have made him the club's top earner but disclosing that both the player and his agent Jim McArthur had consistently told him he wasn't interested in staying.

Petrie said: "We got a call from Celtic on Friday afternoon telling us they intended to speak to Derek Riordan but I understand a newspaper went to print at 5pm that day with the story.

"We then received another call from Celtic on Saturday morning to say they had agreed terms and they were going to put it on their website.

"We had no inclination from Celtic, the player or his agent that this was likely or imminent. The timing was not of our choosing. Celtic did what they are required to do under SPL rules."

The speed with which such a deal was concluded will raise eyebrows.

And Petrie confirmed that Celtic had first shown an interest in Riordan last August, a point at which the Scotland striker turned down a move to Cardiff City after Hibs, exasperated at his refusal to sign a new deal, had intimated they were willing to listen to offers for him.

Hibs also rejected an offer from Rangers during the transfer window while Riordan knocked back a move from Lokomotiv Moscow, who later signed Garry O'Connor in a 1.6 million deal. Since then a host of clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Kaiserslautern, Crystal Palace, Eintracht Frankfurt and Cardiff again have been credited with an interest in Riordan.

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It would seem, however, that his heart was set throughout on a move to Celtic. Petrie said: "As a Hibs player he is under contract to us, he has agreed a pre-contract with Celtic from January 18, two days after his 24th birthday. He will see out his contract with us and then, presumably, spend two-and-a-half months sitting on the beach.

"There will be no question of compensation as he will be 24 when he joins Celtic. Celtic have not indicated that they want him early, it is a similar situation to that of Gary Caldwell and Kenny Miller whom they signed pre-contract.

"They are happy to wait until January."

Celtic's patience may indicate just how key a player they feel Riordan will be to Strachan's side where he will be in competition with John Hartson, Maciej Zurawski, Shaun Maloney, Craig Beattie and Aidan McGeadie for a striking berth at Parkhead next season.