Thompson: Celtic could still make Russell bid

Dundee Utd hitman Johnny Russell. Picture: SNSDundee Utd hitman Johnny Russell. Picture: SNS
Dundee Utd hitman Johnny Russell. Picture: SNS
DUNDEE United chairman Stephen Thompson says it is not too late for Celtic to launch a bid for Derby County-bound striker Johnny Russell.

The former Scotland Under-21 forward is due at Pride Park on Monday for a medical after agreeing terms with the Championship side. United accepted a £750,000 bid on Wednesday, but rumours of Celtic interest in the 23-year-old persist. However, Thompson admits that with the Derby deal still to be

finalised, the champions could yet swoop.

He said: “Until everything is signed and sealed, nothing is concluded – but we have agreed terms with Derby County. I know their chief executive Sam Rush has spoken to Johnny’s agent and they are pretty close to agreeing terms. But he has to go there for a medical on Monday, so you never know. Anything can happen in this game.

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“There has been a lot of speculation but there has been no other approaches to us.”

Asked if he had heard from Celtic, the United chief said: “Not a thing. I’m not particularly

expecting anything from them either. But I will never be surprised in this game. I don’t know if this is all just speculation coming from the west (regarding Celtic’s interest). But no other offers have come in. However, we have seen it before when someone is going somewhere for a medical and then there is an about turn and they go somewhere else. Until it happens it is not complete.”

Thompson also hopes to have the lingering issue of compensation due to Partick Thistle following January’s appointment of Jackie McNamara as United manager wrapped up within the next few days. During an ugly four-month stand-off, both sides have threatened legal action, but United are hopeful the dispute can finally be ironed out. “We are in the final throes of resolving it,” said Thompson. “We are looking forward to putting that behind us, particularly for Jackie. We want to move on. It’s close to being legally sorted right now and hopefully that will be it concluded in the next few days. It’s time to move on.”

The Tannadice chairman also expects a busy few days of negotiations as talks on a merger of the SPL and Scottish Football League look set to conclude one way or another next week. The top-flight clubs have already formalised plans to introduce one league body comprising the current 12-10-10-10 structure with the additions of play-offs between the SPL and Irn Bru First Division, as well a fairer share of finances.

The matter hinges on an SFL vote which requires 22 clubs out of its 29 full members to back the motion for change. Thompson said: “One way or another we will know where we are going next week. There is an SFA agm on Tuesday, an SFL meeting on Wednesday and an SPL meeting on Thursday. By Wednesday night we should have a good idea of where we are going and finally move on – hopefully as one league body with 42 clubs.”

Meanwhile, new United signing Paul Paton has revealed he turned down the chance of signing for Stuart McCall’s Motherwell because he was desperate to work with his former Partick boss McNamara.

Paton, 26, said: “United was always a big lure but having the gaffer here made it extra special.”