Dundee United manager Micky Mellon admits the financial uncertainty sparked by the pandemic might have played a part in Paul McMullan pledging his future to Dundee.
The 24-year-old winger is set to make the short walk up the street from Tannadice to Dens Park after signing a pre-contract with United’s city rivals.
With no contract extension yet on the table from United, McMullan has agreed a two-year deal with their neighbours from this summer.
McMullan has not been a regular starter under Mellon but has made 11 appearances this season and could now make the move immediately.
Mellon said: “I don’t think the club is in a position yet that it is wanting or able to give players contracts, or give Paul McMullan a contract. It might change with other players, that remains to be seen.
“But they didn’t feel they wanted to do that at the moment. I respect that. I liked Paul, I like him as a guy and I liked him as a player. I think opportunities were going to open up for him as the team grows and gets better.
“But he has chosen – and he has chosen, he was never pushed… The offer was made to him by Dundee and he felt he wanted to take that now.
“You would need to ask him why, I would only be guessing. Is it because of the Covid situation and people want to make sure they can pay the bills in the future? That’s something for Paul to answer.
“But Dundee United will move on and we have some good young players who now have the opportunity to come in and cement the position Paul has chosen to move out of.”
Mellon would need to discuss with sporting director Tony Asghar and owner Mark Ogren whether McMullan could move immediately and added he was “quite calm about it”.
“Nobody has fallen out with Paul,” he said. “We don’t do that here, we are good people and a good club, but we will make the best decision for Dundee United.”
McMullan’s decision came in the same week the United squad agreed wage cuts in the face of the impact of Covid-19 on the club’s finances.
“Their intention was always there,” Mellon said. “They understand we are in a pandemic and all football is suffering because we have no crowds.
“But we as a football cub understand we had 20-odd different situations to go through and it was always going to take time.
“We knew at some point, and I’m glad to say, we have made the necessary sacrifices to move Dundee United forward.
“Every credit to the players for doing that but I’m not surprised because they are good guys. The staff did it a few months ago.”
Meanwhile, United will have Marc McNulty and Ryan Edwards back from injury for Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash with St Johnstone but are still waiting to properly assess Jeando Fuchs’ knee issue.
“It’s a confusing one because he is saying he is OK but the scan is saying he’s not,” Mellon said.
“We are waiting to see another specialist but Covid is holding that up.”