IT was perhaps my eight-year-old son who best summed up the feelings of his fellow Motherwell supporters upon hearing the news that David Turnbull was set to join Celtic. “F**k” he involuntarily stammered, earning a week’s grounding to rub salt into his wounds. Ah, from the mouths of babes.

But after the sting of losing their best young player in a generation or more subsides a little, fans of the Fir Park club will hopefully realise this short-term pain was worth it for the long-term good of the club.

Of course, after building a marketing campaign for season tickets around their “young team”, there will be supporters now wondering if they will see any of them at Fir Park next season after all, unless they are wearing green and white hoops or royal blue of course.

That is obviously frustrating for a supporter of any provincial club, but as patronising as this is going to sound, the harsh reality is that their better players will always be fodder for the predators higher up the footballing food chain. Don’t forget, Rangers were reminded of their own place on the ladder not so long ago when Chelsea came in and took Billy Gilmour, and it will be the same for Celtic one day perhaps with Kieran Tierney.

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READ MORE: Gordon Young: Celtic and Rangers have been chasing David Turnbull for years

Sadly, some of the Motherwell academy’s most promising talent will likely never be seen in a claret and amber jersey at first-team level, with Leeds United already having taken Stuart McKinstry this summer and EPL clubs reportedly hovering around another hot prospect, Reece McAlear.

The one crumb of comfort that Motherwell fans should have is that at least their board held firm and got the asking price they were looking for, while still giving themselves enough time in the transfer window to compensate for Turnbull’s absence on the field. Despite the inevitable abuse online he has been taking, chief executive Alan Burrows has, in my view, played a blinder.

The pedigree of the clubs that enquired about Turnbull gave him a strong hand to start with, right enough. Burnley, Brighton and Southampton from the English top flight were known to be interested, Barnsley had a bid rejected, while even Manchester City had asked to be kept informed of his status as they eyed him for their “emerging talent” programme.

So, when Celtic came calling, Burrows was able to make it plain that they were not the only shark in the tank, with some bona fide blue whales also circling.

The second aspect that worked in Motherwell’s favour was that Celtic had already been stung by their approach to landing John McGinn last summer and were hell-bent on not losing out on another up-and-coming talent. The better McGinn played for Villa in their charge to a triumphant return to the English top flight through the play-offs, the more Burrows would have been rubbing his hands.

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READ MORE: Derek Johnstone: Rangers will be ready and raring to go next week after summer break

There are many in the game who rate Turnbull as having the potential to go on and become an even better player than the Scotland midfielder, and Celtic, it seems, are among them. That is why their informal offer of around £1.2m escalated to £3m up front with potential add-ons of £250,000 and a substantial sell-on clause when they thought they might lose him to southern suitors.

The most critical point to make here is that this sale is the final step towards Motherwell becoming debt free and truly a fan-owned club, no longer beholden to paying back Les Hutchison. As favourable as the repayment terms may have been on the money he and previously, John Boyle, ploughed into the club, there was still a balance to be repaid which has hamstrung the club for years.

The extent of their “philanthropy” in insisting a club without the proverbial pot to piddle in repay their own often excessive spending, particularly in the case of billionaire Hutchison who made a big play about giving back to his local area when he arrived on the scene from Barbados, is very much up for debate.

In any case, as well as giving Burrows and his board due credit for wiping those slates clean and removing the constrictions that came with them, Motherwell fans should also be thanking the lord Tommy Coyne that Turnbull grew up as one of their own.

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With his reputation growing around the turn of the year and with just four months left on his contract, there was no need for the 19-year-old to put pen to paper on a new two-year deal. Any agent worth their salt would have advised against it, but still, he signed on the dotted line.

That isn’t a dig at Jake Hastie, who got his move to Rangers after letting his contract run down, as is his right. But with that flick of a pen, Turnbull ensured that his boyhood club are not only safeguarded in the short term, but have a chance to potentially lay down an infrastructure that will benefit generations to come.

In signing that deal, there likely also would have been an understanding that if a reasonable offer came in, then the club wouldn’t stand in his way. The boy will now receive life-changing money and financial security for his family, as well as a great career opportunity.

For what it’s worth, having delved into his underlying stats and simply enjoyed watching him play since he burst on to the scene, my bold prediction is that he will go on to be a huge success at Celtic and potentially earn his boyhood heroes another chunky wad of cash down the line.

In the meantime, to the credit of the Motherwell academy, there are a host of youngsters under the surface like Jamie Semple – providing he too isn’t whisked away by hovering vultures – that are ready to step into the breach.

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Celtic agree £3m fee with Motherwell for David Turnbull

Now, how do you explain all that to an eight-year-old?


THE news that the Scottish Cup final has been moved to May 9th - two weeks before the league season ends - has rather slipped under the radar.

The reason for the shift is that Hampden is hosting Euro 2020 matches, but I feel this might be a bigger issue than SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell envisages.

What should be the showpiece occasion of the season risks becoming a secondary consideration if there is a title or relegation decider on the horizon for any of the clubs involved.

Let's just hope Scotland qualify, and the shine hasn't been taken off the cup for Iceland v Denmark or some such. Would a change of venue been more appropriate?