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That dream, brief though it may have been, was fun while it lasted. Andrew Gutman will not be loaned from Scotland’s Celtic FC to Nashville SC for the 2019 season. Instead, league sources indicate he will be joining Charlotte Independence on loan.
The strong assumption here is as it relates to Gutman’s homegrown rights: the Chicago Fire hold them after he came up through the Fire Academy prior to his four-year career with Indiana University. Given the position Nashville SC occupies right now – currently in USL, but straddling the line between that league and MLS with a move to the latter for the 2020 season – it would seem the Fire raised some sort of stink about NSC having the opportunity to roster a player who opted not to sign with the Fire. Given that the Independence is a USL club that will remain so for the foreseeable future, Major League Soccer doesn’t hold any sway over their ability to take Gutman on loan.
This is yet another situation in which MLS rules are unclear (I’ve reached out to the league and the Players’ Association for comment), to the point that I wouldn’t bet there’s any specific rule disallowing such a loan, but rather it’s being handled on a case-by-case basis.
The real shame is that nobody benefits here: The Chicago Fire will not be rostering Gutman (unsurprising, given that it’s a franchise guys are retiring from the sport just to get away from – to say nothing of their fan relations), the player doesn’t get to play for the team he wants, Celtic FC doesn’t get the loan destination they desired for their loanee, and Nashville SC obviously doesn’t have the opportunity to develop a really good left back for a year (again, in which they’re not in Major League Soccer – where Chicago still holds Gutman’s homegrown rights). It works out for Charlotte Independence, which gets to add a really good left back, and that’s about it.
I’d be surprised if the whole thing is so simple, of course (there’s no downplaying how strong Mike Jacobs’s relationships are around MLS), but certainly it’s a bad look for the Fire even if this isn’t all their doing (and again, from a club that should have no business digging itself further PR holes, but I’m not their boss) and for MLS, as well.