It’s no surprise that Dunfermline chairman Ross McArthur is playing hardball over Kevin Nisbet.
But “hardball” isn’t the operative word – it’s “playing”.
The Pars chief came out swinging after Dundee United went public with their continued interest in his star striker this week.
In a move that injected some much-needed knockabout fun into Scottish football after a stony-faced few months, he branded United boss Robbie Neilson’s decision to speak publicly about Nisbet “disrespectful”.
Dunfermline fans would expect no less.
However, McArthur also insisted Nisbet will not be sold for “a cheap price”.
Saying that is one thing, but being able to guarantee it is another altogether.
At a time when football clubs have been haemorrhaging cash – with Dunfermline feeling the pinch like everybody else – this transfer window is going to be shaped by disaster capitalism.
Just last month, the Pars axed 17 players in a move designed, in their chairman’s words, to “protect the business”.
It’s hardly surprising if clubs in somewhat ruder financial health, having clocked that decision, are scenting blood in the water.
And it’s no shock whatsoever that United, having seen a sizable bid for Nisbet knocked back just six months ago, are amongst those circling.
They aren’t alone.
Hibs were also keen on Nisbet in January – and they haven’t gone away.
Portsmouth have also had an eye on the Pars star, and should they firm up their interest, the Pars could well get a reasonable price for their main man.
But even clubs of Portsmouth’s size aren’t going to drop huge transfer fees this summer.
Ordinarily, Dunfermline would be wise to set their asking price above market value and hope it rises.
But in a football landscape scorched by a months-long dearth of income, that tactic is far less likely to work.
And, as every fan knows, if a player decides he wants a move, he usually ends up getting it, even if his club has to take a hit on price.
The Pars’ chairman has been vocal in recent months about the difficulties his club have faced during the coronavirus shutdown.
He deserves credit for his candidness on the topic.
But this summer, it’s going to be a buyer’s market – and Dunfermline, despite the tough talk, look more like sellers.
I’ve felt bad for Dundee all week.
With excitement mounting about the Premiership’s return, with top flight clubs returning to training, and with closed-doors football getting underway around Europe, the Dark Blues have been left on the outside looking in.
In speaking to Dee gaffer, James McPake, this week, I got the feeling that frustration is mounting.
He expressed it in a typically measured way – there was no ranting or raving.
He acknowledged the situation in which he and his players find themselves is nowhere near as worthy of complaint as many other things that are happening in the wider world.
But the truth is the lack of a start date for next season’s Championship has left Dundee – and their fellow second tier sides – in limbo.
Without a target to work towards, McPake can’t properly plan for what will be a big campaign.
Some other clubs might be okay with the situation.
But Dundee are a side with ambitions – and, right now, they’re being held back.
Fair play to United fans.
Over 4000 of them have shelled out for season tickets despite not knowing when they’ll set foot inside Tannadice.
That shows the punters’ passion for and commitment to their club.
At a time when finances are tighter than ever in football, it will also have provided a welcome cash boost at Tannadice.
And I don’t think it will be long until fans see it being spent.
I watched the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis as La Liga returned on Thursday night. The football was great. But the referee? Awful!
What’s the Spanish for: “You don’t know what you’re doing”?