MARK Warburton has insisted that Rangers have done absolutely nothing wrong, either in the timing or manner of their approach to sign Scott Allan from Hibs.
Rangers have made two bids, of £175,000 and then £225,000, for the midfielder.
Although both were swiftly rejected by the Edinburgh club, it is understood they have unsettled last season’s Championship Player of the Year and prompted him to inform his Easter Road bosses that he would prefer to start the new season with the Ibrox side.
But the 23-year-old has stopped short of submitting a written transfer request and club insiders say it would make no difference anyway.
The playmaker still has a year remaining on his contract and, in a statement, Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster described all bids as “unwelcome”, while manager Alan Stubbs categorically insisted that Allan would not be sold to rivals Rangers. The second bid has done nothing to change their opinion and, apparently, neither has Allan.
A boyhood Rangers supporter, the player remains in the Hibs squad for today’s Petrofac Training Cup first-round tie between the teams at Easter Road, with Warburton expecting him to play his part. The timing of the bids has led to claims of mischief-making but the Rangers manager says he is content with the way his club has handled the matter.
“I’m always happy that Rangers conduct their business in the right manner and they look to do the best for Rangers Football Club,” said Warburton. “And we have to look after Rangers Football Club in everything we do. That selfish approach for any successful business, let alone football, is looking after number one so to speak.
“How they [Hibs] conduct their business is down to them and I’m sure they do it in the best interests of their football club.
“What Rangers have to do is conduct its business in the best manner possible to achieve success here.”
Warburton expressed his admiration for Allan but admits he would be unhappy if an opposition club spoke publicly about one of his players as a transfer target. Hibs boss Alan Stubbs called Warburton earlier in the week to emphasise Allan was not for sale.
“He’s not my player, he’s a Hibs player,” added Warburton. “I think if anyone was talking about one of my players I would be more than irate. So it’s not for me to talk about another club’s player.
“I know Alan Stubbs, I worked with him at Everton in the NextGen tournament so I know him very well. The club made a bid so there is obviously interest, there is always interest in a club like Rangers in improving the quality of the squad.
“Alan made their stance very clear to me and I respectfully said he’s not my player, he’s your player, so I won’t be talking about one of your playing staff, which I never have done and never will do.
“All I worry about is football here. Football coaching and team management. That’s my job. I let the powers that be do the difficult stuff. My job is to manage the team and look after our squad of players.
“I think it’s really inappropriate for any manager or coach to talk about another team’s staff.”
Asked if he expected Allan to line up against Rangers today, Warburton replied: “Absolutely. He’s a Hibs player so unless he’s injured and we don’t know about it, we’ll presume he’ll play.
“He’s a good player, a very talented player. There’s no doubt about that. He is a big influence for them, whether he plays wide on the left or comes inside.
“He’s a talented player but they have other very good players as well.
“Hibs are a good team and it would be wrong for us to focus all our attention on the one player, that’s for sure.”
But the spotlight is firmly on Allan, with even his current team-mates keen to learn the latest developments, according to defender Paul Hanlon.
“Everyone’s just kind of asking him what’s happening but he’s not saying a lot. Hibs are not selling him. That’s all I’ve heard so far. Hopefully it stays that way.
“It’s a confidence boost to hear that Hibs are in a strong position to say ‘no, Rangers are our rivals. We’re not selling to them’. I hope it stays that way.”
A pivotal player, if they can keep hold of him until the transfer window closes, Hanlon is confident he will knuckle down and remain a key component in Hibs’ promotion push. Although it may not be Allan’s preferred option his team-mate also believes that another season at Hibs would prove beneficial to the midfielder as well.
“You saw last season how important he is. I think he only scored two goals but the number of goals he set up with assists must easily have been double figures.
“He’s big part of our team. He makes a lot happen for us. I’m sure if he can stay with us, he’ll only get better this season. As soon as he goes out on the pitch, he just wants the ball and wants to make things happen. That will never change.”