Saints praised as Brittain stays at Ross County

Richard Brittain in action against Celtic. Picture: Robert PerryRichard Brittain in action against Celtic. Picture: Robert Perry
Richard Brittain in action against Celtic. Picture: Robert Perry
ROY MacGregor last night praised St Johnstone for brokering peace with Ross County in the Richard Brittain affair.

The County chairman admitted there was an overwhelming sense of relief in the Dingwall camp after the Perth club rescinded the pre-contract deal Brittain signed in January.

In April, it emerged the County skipper had been seeking for some weeks to nullify the Bosman-style move south for private family reasons. County denied St Johnstone claims that a rival contract offer had been tabled after the pre-contract with them had been signed. Matters grew more complicated during the close season as County registered Brittain with the SFA for 2013/14, while Saints lodged his SPL paperwork. Had the stalemate continued, Brittain would not have been able to play for any club in the coming campaign.

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Yesterday, the 29-year-old former Livingston and St Mirren midfielder reported for pre-season training at the Global Energy Stadium, despite St Johnstone’s instructions to report for work at McDiarmid Park.

Following the breakthrough agreement last night, Brittain is now set for his sixth season with the Highland outfit. For MacGregor, who now expects Brittain to pen a new County contract within the next few days, the whole affair was educational.

The main County financier and head of multi-national firm Global Energy refused to say whether or not a compensation payment had been made to Saints, although sources last night told The Scotsman that County had paid around £40,000 to settle the dispute.

MacGregor said: “I can’t really say too much about the agreement that was reached or if there was compensation involved. But Ross County are very grateful to St Johnstone for reaching an amicable resolution over the pre-contract agreement Richard signed. It was not an easy situation for them as a club or us.

“It was just a very unfortunate scenario all round for everyone involved, including Richard obviously. But St Johnstone have now cancelled the SPL element of his registration out of respect to the player. I can’t praise them highly enough for doing so. That clears the way for Richard to play for us in all competitions.

“It is a huge relief for everyone that there has been no recourse to legal action. It is not a situation I ever want to be involved in again. It is never nice in football when these situations arise and the boundary is crossed into court action. But people make mistakes in life and there has to be a degree of understanding involved. I think we have come to a fair and proper resolution for all parties.”

In a statement, St Johnstone said the chairmen of both SPL clubs had agreed the move. It read: “Following a meeting between our chairman Steve Brown and his opposite number at Ross County, St Johnstone FC wishes to announce that an agreement has been reached, on terms that are acceptable to St Johnstone, for the cancellation of the Scottish Premier League contract between St Johnstone FC and the player Richard Brittain.”