SHEFFIELD United risk becoming embroiled in an ugly legal dispute with Rangers if they attempt to recruit players from ailing Glasgow giants.
Charles Green, who fronts the consortium which bought the 54-time Scottish champions’ assets following its slide into administration, has insisted he will seek compensation for those squad members who have elected not to join the ‘newco’ which now controls the club.
Steven Whittaker, Jamie Ness and John Fleck, previously a target for United, feature among the list of high-profile names who have exercised their right to leave Ibrox in recent weeks.
Despite being warned his hardline stance contravenes employment regulations, Green has reportedly written letters to several English clubs known to be interested in cherry-picking the best of Rangers’ talent outlining the new owners’ position.
That situation, combined with the need to reduce expenditure at Bramall Lane, could explain why United appeared reticent to offer Fleck an immediate route back into football following his walk-out.
Indeed, League One rivals Coventry City sought advice before invit
ing him to the Ricoh Arena for talks on Monday.
“It won’t go through until they are sure they are in the clear, that there will be no recriminations or possible comebacks as a direct result of doing this,” a source told The Star last night.
Green, a former United chief executive, has come under increasing scrutiny from Rangers’ fractious support since completing the purchase last month.
Christian Constantin, chairman of Sion, issued a terse response when the subject of compensation was raised following Kyle Lafferty’s move to the Stade Tourbillon.
“I am not
surprised to hear that Rangers want some money,” Constantin said. “I’m aware of the problems that are facing them but there are no problems for me with these players.
“They are free.”
Constantin, who challenged the governing bodies over Sion’s exclusion from the Europa League last term, added: “There is no contract for the players and so there will be no problem with FIFA over this.”
Wilson, who has twice failed to capture Fleck, is known to have extensively scouted the Scottish Premier and Football League as he prepares to start rebuilding his team ahead of the new season.
Kyle Hutton, another former United target, has pledged to transfer his registration to the Rangers newco.
UNCERTAINTY surrounding Steve Cotterill’s future at Nottingham Forest could signal the end of the Championship club’s interest in Lee Williamson.
The Sheffield United midfielder, whose contract expired last month, has been identified as a potential new signing by Cotterill ahead of the 2012/13 campaign.
But with Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson reportedly being approached about the possibility of replacing the 47-year-old at the City Ground, Williamson’s options could be reduced should he decide not to agree terms with Danny Wilson’s side.
Ferguson, however, immediately distanced himself from claims linking him with the post while Cotterill yesterday applied the finishing touches to his summer rebuilding programme.
Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi, whose family made its fortune in the refrigeration business, is poised to purchase Forest from the estate of former owner Nigel Doughty.
Together with striker Chris Porter and fellow midfielder Kevin McDonald, United tabled Williamson a fresh offer after being beaten in last season’s League One play-off final by Huddersfield Town.