CONFUSION last night surrounded the future of Ross County captain Richard Brittain following reports that he had changed his mind about a summer move to St Johnstone.
Back in January, Brittain signed a pre-contract agreement to join the Perth club on a two-year deal from this summer.
The Bosman move came as a shock to County, who have watched the 29-year-old hit eight SPL goals this season after captaining them to both a Scottish Cup final and the First Division title.
However, it was reported last night there had been a major change of heart on the part of the former St Mirren and Livingston midfielder, with County secure in the top six and chasing Europa League football.
Brittain is understood to have told the McDiarmid Park outfit – who have also made it into the top six – that he wants to tear up the pre-contract deal and remain in the Highlands.
County manager Derek Adams would only confirm that he had been aware of developments between Brittain and St Johnstone for some time. But Adams stressed it was up to the player and Perth club to settle his future.
Under employment law, Brittain’s contract with Saints is signed and sealed. But his registration will remain with County until the end of the season when the documents are passed to the SFA.
Adams said: “What I would say, is that I’ve known for a wee while now what the situation is.
“St Johnstone know what the situation is and you would need to speak to St Johnstone on that.
“I can’t really say anything else because it is in Richard Brittain’s and St Johnstone’s hands.
“Richard has previously stated he wants to move to St Johnstone and I believe he is in discussions with them just now. It would be [unusual for the pre-contract deal to be broken], but sometimes you feel you have made a mistake and you want to move out of that situation. But I can’t really say anything else.”
Asked if the County door remained open to Brittain, Adams replied: “We’d have to see first. Listen, he is contracted to St Johnstone at this point.
“I can’t say anything because he is technically a St Johnstone player in the summer. St Johnstone know what is happening, so it is probably up to them to state the situation.”
Adams insisted that County would not be prepared to pay a penny in compensation if the deal does collapse.
He added: “I’ve obviously read comments this morning but we will not pay any money to St Johnstone if anything was to happen. St Johnstone will be able to tell you the likelihood of that but I haven’t spoken to Richard recently.”
For St Johnstone’s part, they remain confident that Brittain will be at McDiarmid Park next season.
Responding to reports of the player’s U-turn, Saints chairman Steve Brown insisted: “Both parties entered into the pre-contract agreement in good faith and I fully expect the player to honour it, as we would do.”
Brittain, a dead-ball specialist, was described by St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas as “a fantastic leader” when he tied him up on a pre-contract. Lomas is resigned to losing midfield pair Murray Davidson and Hibs-bound Liam Craig and sees Brittain as a man to plug the gap.
Intriguingly, St Johnstone and Ross County face each other this weekend, at McDiarmid Park on Sunday afternoon.