As this website revealed a couple of weeks ago, Celtic was aware from the start that signing John McGinn was not going to be a straightforward task.
The cause was nothing to do with money and everything to do with their chairman, Rod Petrie. He is at loggerheads with our club at the moment, over a number of things relating to his own climb up Scottish football’s greasy pole, and he sees McGinn as a weapon to use.
It has raised the hackles inside Hibs as much as it has inside Celtic Park, where the mood over the issue is reasonably calm. Brendan may be frustrated at the glacial pace of signing negotiations overall, but on McGinn he knows more than he’ll ever let on, and has expressed his support for the stance our board is taking on it.
Neil Lennon’s position is a little more complex. He works for Rod Petrie and is hardly likely to come out and make his frustrations public, but a lot of people close to him have confirmed that he is far from pleased that his club is making it difficult for us to deal.
Phil reported this morning that Neil has earmarked several signings with that money, and that Leeann Dempster shares his anger over this … but I can tell you tonight that they are worried about more than just the potential consequences of McGinn leaving on a free.
This is about more than cold, hard cash.
The good relations between the two clubs have been soured by this.
Hibs’ relationship with Celtic has deep roots.
Their club has been the beneficiary of our assistance in more ways than one. When they won the Scottish Cup in 2016 they did so, in no small part, because we had loaned them a couple of exceptional players. One of those players, Anthony Stokes, was virtually unplayable that day. The other, Liam Henderson, set up the winner.
Another of our former players, Dylan McGeough, played the full match. Hibs had taken him on loan for a year, before they took him off our hands for an undisclosed fee. We made it easy for them, because the relationship between the clubs was fruitful.
The season before last we loaned them Efe Ambrose.
Last season it was Scott Allan.
This season, Allan might well be available again, and so too might the likes of Mikey Johnston, Jack Aitchison, Anthony Ralston and others. There is virtually no chance that any of those players will be permitted to go on loan to Hibs.
Other SPL clubs, like Kilmarnock, or the likes of Thistle and Dundee Utd, are more likely destinations.
And that does concerns people at Easter Road, because that sweet link-up has saved them a fortune and given them access to very good players for free.
As of this summer, that deal might no longer exist.
That is the true price Hibs and their manager may have to pay for Rod Petrie’s egotism and need to defeat Peter Lawwell. As I have said, there is only going to be one winner in this fight and it is not the club from Easter Road.
But the fight isn’t really with Hibs in the first place, just their chairman.
No wonder others at the club are so mystified, and disturbed.