Ali McCann deadline day sale explained after Celtic links

By David Walton

September 2, 2021

St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown has explained what happened on deadline day with Ali McCann after Celtic fans rued missing out on him.

The Northern Irishman looked to be staying with Saints at the start of deadline day. However, come midnight, he was a Preston North End player after securing what was a reported £1.2m move [Belfast Telegraph].

This led to bemusement from Celtic supporters, who couldn’t believe the Hoops didn’t make a bid in an attempt to bag some long-term centre-midfield cover.

And as Brown described what happened in the closing hours of the window, it doesn’t appear as if Celtic were anywhere near the deal in the end.

Speaking via the St Johnstone website, Brown said: “After reluctantly accepting Jason’s [Kerr] decision to leave, two offers came in for Ali, which were both rejected. An increased offer came in from Preston around 5pm, which was also turned down.

“Shortly after this, it was made abundantly clear to Callum and I that Ali wanted to move on, and from a footballing perspective, challenge himself at a higher level. We were also made aware that the financial package which had been offered to him was life-changing and potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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“I sat with the Manager and assessed the dilemma we had.  Would we stand in the way of a player’s development and prohibit him from being set up financially for life? Or do we decline that to have potentially an unhappy player who would no doubt have left in January?  After a long, difficult conversation between Callum and I, we decided to let Ali go. We subsequently reopened dialogue with Preston and renegotiated to get the overall transfer fee we wanted to achieve.”

Celtic were hardly close to signing Ali McCann

It would be interesting to know if Celtic were one of the two initial clubs that had offers rejected for McCann. If we were, we certainly set our limit low for him.

The final deal will see Saints rack up £1.75m in full including add-ons. It was hardly a case of being priced out for the Northern Irishman.

Celtic just didn’t come close to taking him. Whether there was serious interest or not, it feels like we’re missing out here. Some will point to the case of John McGinn back in 2018, but Celtic don’t even look as though they charged in with a serious offer here.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Instead, it’s the Championship side who are going to see the benefits of his development. It makes it even more bemusing that we failed to strengthen in centre-midfield regardless.

You could say Ange Postecoglou simply wasn’t interested. After all, all previous links to the player came before he was appointed. But that would be acceptable if not for the fact we didn’t strengthen at all. McCann would’ve been a lot more useful than nobody.

In the end, however, we’ll just have to get used to the fact we didn’t show enough interest. Whether it comes back to haunt us? We’ll see.

In other news, Bosun Lawal already impressing with Celtic B after Watford switch