So it won’t be January after all then.
Barring some last ditch twist the John McGinn saga will end in the next few days and he will sign for Aston Villa.
This was not the ending I anticipated, and the last 24 hours have left Celtic fans with a feeling of whiplash which I expect is going to endure far beyond the game tonight.
This has left a stage lined with more bodies than a Shakespeare play.
I was astounded last night when I heard we had offered to match Villa’s bid.
Astounded and concerned, because I knew first that Hibs were unlikely to accept that bid and because the act of making it made us look weak and desperate.
That’s a story for another day.
This has been a bad one for us and for Hibs … I think in time for the player as well unless he’s driven and focused and very, very good.
Nobody wins except Steve Bruce and Villa who have taken advantage of the stand-off between our club and Hibs to secure the player at a knock-down fee which, frankly, is shocking. It was a smidgen above what Celtic offered. It is actually below the price to which we would have gone, had Petrie acted with good faith. Not only would we have paid £2.5 million or thereabouts, but we’d probably have thrown in a couple of loanees on top.
Hibs fans can celebrate this as a victory because he’s not gone to Celtic, but that attitude is pitifully small minded and parochial, with no thought about the bigger picture, which was characterised in what was once a healthy, beneficial mutual respect between the clubs.
Petrie can think he’s one upped us, but it will cost his club in the long term. He has not gotten he or his club a favourable outcome here no matter what nonsense he puts out in the papers in the next week or so. This was not his “holding out and getting his price”; he’s got nowhere near the £4 million he and his board made their stand on. His own position was weak, and he has sold the player for less out of that weakness.
I said McGinn was not worth that money and clearly nobody in football believes I was wrong.
But Hibs’ chairman deliberately laid it out as his club’s negotiating floor with our club … and however much they might want to spin this they’ve gotten little over half what they told us was their starting point for talks.
I believe it’s a bad move for John McGinn, because he’s taken a step backwards, and I believe that’s what Villa is. That club, of late, has been where careers go to die, and he will have to be very good to assure that doesn’t happen to him.
But he can play his way out of it and get to a better club and Villa will certainly make a profit along the way.
Hibs will have a sell-on clause, and they, too, will do nicely out of that.
But it won’t be the kind of profit they would have got had he been performing in the Champions League and winning trophies and making the move from Celtic Park.
And of course, Celtic has lost out here too.
Nobody needs me to write about my respect for John McGinn as a football player. That he has not hung around for a move to Celtic is something I will not blame him for. Things can happen in football; he had no guarantee that we would make a bid in the next window. What if he got injured? On top of that, he’d gone to Villa to talk to them. If they made a good case and put a good offer on the table and he accepted it before our late bid last night, it would only be proper for him to have signed as planned.
I will cover what happened with Celtic tomorrow; this is not the night for an article of that sort.
We have a game to focus on, so let’s give the team all our support this evening.