Scottish Championship ins and outs - summer 2016

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon and Dundee United counterpart Ray McKinnon
Neil Lennon and Ray McKinnon will be aiming for promotion with their new clubs

Big spenders Rangers have made their exit from the Scottish Championship, but four new managers and the prevalence of single-season contracts has still ensured plenty of player turnover and interest outside the top flight.

Relegated Dundee United return to the second tier for the first time in 20 years with a slimmed-down and rebuilt squad assembled by new boss Ray McKinnon.

Despite predictions of financial hardship at Tannadice, United still managed to pay out for the services of defender Lewis Toshney from McKinnon's former club, Raith Rovers, no doubt helped by the fact that 19 players and their wages exited along with manager Mixu Paatelainen.

The new incumbent over at Easter Road, Neil Lennon, has so far merely tinkered with the squad inherited from Alan Stubbs that won the Scottish Cup but missed out on promotion through the play-offs.

Having lost out in the play-off final last season, Falkirk are the most likely challengers to United and Hibs for the title and paying a fee to Queen of the South for defender Lewis Kidd is perhaps an indication of their continued ambition.

However, they sold talented Will Vaulks to Rotherham United and much-lauded fellow midfielder Blair Alston left on a free transfer, joining St Johnstone along with defender Keith Watson from St Mirren, the pair being a rarity this summer - being players who have made the step up from last season's Championship to the Premiership.

Ayr United

Ayr United

Last season: 2nd Scottish League One

Manager: Ian McCall

Ayr-supporting midfield talisman Ryan Stevenson surprisingly left for Championship rivals Dumbarton, but the midfielder has been replaced with the younger Paul Cairney, who helped Stranraer challenge the Honest Men for promotion.

Verdict: 9th. Ian McCall knew he had to strengthen a side that only managed to win promotion via the play-offs. The quality of the opposition means he will need all his experience of managing at this level to steer the Honest Men clear of relegation.

In: Gary Harkins, midfielder (Dundee); Conrad Balatoni, defender (Kilmarnock); Daryll Meggatt, defender (Dundee); Michael Rose, defender (Aberdeen); Paul Cairney, midfielder (Stranraer); Jordan Hart, goalkeeper (Annan Athletic). Loan: Jamie Thomas, forward (Burnley); Craig Moore, forward (Motherwell); Kevin Nisbet, forward (Partick Thistle).

Out: Ryan Stevenson, midfielder (Dumbarton); Alan Trouten, midfielder (Brechin City); Andy Graham, defender (Alloa Athletic); Gerry McLauchlan, defender (Cowdenbeath); Kieran Wood, defender (Cumnock); Craig McCracken, defender; Andrew Muir, defender; Adam Hodge, defender; Shaun Newman, goalkeeper.



Last season: 8th

Manager: Stevie Aitken

Ryan Stevenson adds his experience to the Sons' midfield as manager Stevie Aitken battles against the odds to assemble a squad capable of competing with full-time rivals.

Verdict: 10th. Stevie Aitken has looked to recruit the best of part-time talent from the leagues below but is still likely to find himself fighting another battle to avoid the drop.

In: Alan Martin, goalkeeper (Hamilton Acacemical); David Smith, midfielder (Falkirk); Ryan Stevenson, midfielder (Ayr United); Andy Stirling, midfielder (Stranraer); Craig Pettigrew, defender (Stranraer); Robert Thomson, forward (Brechin City); Jamie Barclay, goalkeeper (Stenhousemuir); Josh Todd, midfielder (Annan Athletic). Loan: Daniel Harvie, defender (Aberdeen); Joe Thomson, midfielder (Celtic); Sam Stanton, midfielder (Hibernian).

Out: Steven Saunders, defender (The New Saints); Jon Routledge, midfielder (The New Saints); Kevin Cawley, forward (Alloa Athletic); Scott Taggart, defender (Alloa Athletic); Jordan Kirkpatrick, midfielder (Alloa Athletic); Christian Nade, forward (Stranraer); Mikey Hopkins, defender (Burnbrae); Paul Heffernan, forward. Loan ended: Tom Walsh, midfielder (Rangers); Calum Waters, defender (Celtic); Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic); Kler Heh, midfielder (Sheffield United). Loan: Ryan Clark, midfielder (Kilwinning Rangers).

Dundee United

Dundee United

Last season: 12th (relegated) Scottish Premiership

Manager: Ray McKinnon

New manager Ray McKinnon has concentrated on recruiting players with top-flight experience as he rebuilds a squad that has shed 19 players after relegation. Cammy Bell could be the most astute signing should the goalkeeper recapture the form that led to Scotland call-ups before injury and failing to recapture his place with Rangers.

Verdict: 2nd. Ray McKinnon appears to have not only recruited well but instilled a renewed belief in the players he inherited from Mixu Paatelainen and a close battle between themselves and Hibernian for the title appears likely.

In: Ray McKinnon, manager (Raith Rovers); Laurie Ellis, assistant manager (Raith Rovers); Willo Flood, midfielder (Aberdeen); Cammy Bell, goalkeeper (Rangers); Tope Obadeyi, forward (Kilmarnock); Frank van der Struijk, defender (Willem II); Wiliam Edjenguele, defender (Veria); Nick van der Velden, forward (Willem II); Stewart Murdoch, midfielder (Ross County); Lewis Toshney, defender (Raith Rovers, undisclosed); Brett Long, goalkeeper (Motherwell). Loan: Tony Andreu, midfielder (Norwich City); Cammy Smith, forward (Aberdeen).

Out: Mixu Paatelainen, manager; Gordon Young, assistant manager; Andy Dow, forward (Ross County); Paul Paton, midfielder (St Johnstone); Robbie Muirhead, forward (Heart of Midlothian); Callum Morris, defender (Aberdeen); Florent Sinama-Pongolle, forward (Chainat); Kieran Freeman, defender (Southampton, undisclosed); John Rankin, midfielder (Falkirk); Darko Bodul, forward (Amkar Perm); Gavin Gunning, defender (Greenock Morton); Euan Spark, defender (Dunfermline Athletic); Guy Demel, midfielder; Fiji Kawashima, goalkeeper; Edward Ofere, forward; Michal Szromnik, goalkeeper; Joe McGovern, goalkeeper; Greig McNaughton, defender; Henri Anier, forward. Loan ended: Billy Mckay, forward (Wigan Athletic); Riku Riski, forward (Rosenborg); Kyle Knoyle, defender (West Ham United). Loan: Justin Johnstone, forward (York City); Cammy Ballantyne, defender (Montrose); Aaron Murrell, forward (Cowdenbeath); Brett Long, goalkeeper (Forfar Athletic); Jassem Sukar, defender (Arbroath).

Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline Athletic

Last season: Champions, Scottish League One

Manager: Allan Johnston

Pars manager Allan Johnston has bolstered his League One championship winning squad with players of Premiership experience and will hope that Gavin Reilly, on loan from Hearts, former Rangers striker Nicky Clark and ex-Hibernian forward Farid El Alagui can compensate for top scorer Faisal El Bakhtaoui's switch to Dundee.

Verdict: 7th. Allan Johnston's runaway League One champions should have enough about them to avoid relegation trouble. A lack of cutting edge means it is likely to be a year of consolidation rather than a promotion challenge this time round.

In: Kallum Higginbotham, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Lee Ashcroft, defender (Kilmarnock); Nat Wedderburn, midfielder (Inverness Caledonian Thistle); Nicky Clark, forward (Bury); Farid El Alagui, forward (Hibernian); Ciaran Lafferty, forward (Celtic); Euan Spark, defender (Dundee United); Scott Lochhead, midfielder (unattached). Loan: Gavin Reilly, forward (Heart of Midlothian); Paul McMullan, forward (Celtic); John Herron, midfielder (Blackpool).

Out: Faisal El Bakhtaoui, forward (Dundee); PJ Crossan, forward (Celtic, undisclosed); Scott Robinson, midfielder (East Fife); Shaun Byrne, midfielder (Livingston); Shaun Rooney, defender (York City); Ryan Wallace, forward (Albion Rovers); Jordan Orru, defender (Berwick Rangers); John Potter, defender (retired); Craig Reid, defender; Josh Falkingham, midfielder; Cammy McClair, midfielder. Loan ended: Brad McKay, defender (St Johnstone).



Last season: 2nd

Manager: Peter Houston

Manager Peter Houston has managed to retain most of the squad that took his side to the play-off final last season. The loss of Blair Alston to St Johnstone will be a miss in midfield, but the capture of Lewis Kidd from Queen of the South adds youthful legs to the defence.

Verdict: 3rd. Losing two of their most talented midfielders is likely to leave the Bairns just short of the quality needed to challenge for the title, but their manager's organisational abilities should ensure another chance of promotion via the play-offs.

In: John Rankin, midfielder (Dundee United); Lewis Kidd, defender (Queen of the South, undisclosed); James Craigen, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Luca Gasparotto, defender (Rangers); Liam Henderson, defender (Heart of Midlothian). Loan: Danny Rogers, goalkeeper (Aberdeen).

Out: Will Vaulks, midfielder (Rotherham United, undisclosed); Blair Alston, midfielder (St Johnstone); David Smith, midfielder (Dumbarton); Kevin McCann, defender; Lewis Small, forward; Liam Dick, defender; Graham Bowman, goalkeeper; Alex Tokarczyk, goalkeeper. Loan ended: Conor McGrandles, midfielder (Norwich City). Loan: Kevin O'Hara, forward (East Fife).

Greenock Morton


Last season: 5th

Manager: Jim Duffy

Exciting winger Bobby Barr has been lost to Championship rivals Raith Rovers and, in his search for a replacement, manager Jim Duffy will be hoping that nephew Gary Oliver will repay his faith for the fee paid to Queen of the South for the Scotland Under-21 forward.

Verdict: 5th. With Denny Johnstone and Declan McManus no longer on loan, Morton might struggle for goals, but there is a continuity about Jim Duffy's squad that should ensure mid-table safety and a possibly promotion play-off place.

In: Michael Doyle, defender (St Johnstone); Gavin Gunning, defender (Dundee United); Gary Oliver, forward (Queen of the South, undisclosed); Jamie McDonagh, forward (Sheffield United); Caolan McAleer, midfielder (Airdrieonians); Kudus Oyenuga, forward (Hartlepool United). Loan: Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic); Aidan Nesbitt, forward (Celtic).

Out: Bobby Barr, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Kudus Oyenuga, forward (Hartlepool United); Joe McKee, midfielder (Carlisle United); Michael Miller, defender (Livingston); Frank McKeown, defender (Stranraer); Stefan McCluskey, midfielder (Peterhead); Peter MacDonald, forward (Clyde). Loan ended: Declan McManus, forward (Fleetwood Town); Denny Johnstone, forward (Birmingham City); Luca Gasparotto, defender (Rangers); Alex Samuel, forward (Swansea City). Loan: Thomas Orr, forward (Livingston); Alex McWaters, forward (Largs Thistle); John Tennent, defender (Cumbernauld Colts).



Last season: 3rd

Manager: Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon's first signing as Hibs manager was big, even eye-catching, not in terms of name - Grant Holt is short and snappy - but in terms of stature, the striker being an imposing presence and having made a name for himself helping Norwich City to England's top flight. However, can a 35-year-old released by Rochdale compensate for the exit of Celtic loanee Anthony Stokes?

Verdict: 1st. Hibs' fine showing against Brondby, despite their Europa League exit, suggests Neil Lennon's side can build on the excitement of last season's Scottish Cup final triumph and challenge for the title and automatic promotion.

In: Neil Lennon, manager; Gary Parker, assistant manager; Grant Holt, forward (Rochdale); Brian Graham, forward (Ross County); Ross Laidlaw, goalkeeper (Raith Rovers). Loan: Andrew Shinnie, midfielder (Birmingham City); Ofir Marciano, goalkeeper (Ashdod).

Out: Alan Stubbs, manager (Rotherham United); John Doolan, assistant manager (Rotherham United); Chris Dagnall, forward (Crewe Alexandra); Mark Oxley, goalkeeper (Southend United); Conrad Logan, goalkeeper (Rochdale); Farid El Alagui, forward (Dunfermline Athletic); Kevin Thomson, midfielder (Tranent); Josh Peters, forward (Forfar Athletic); Sean Brennan, goalkeeper (Berwick Rangers); Dan Carmichael, midfielder. Loan ended: Anthony Stokes, forward (Celtic); Niklas Gunnarsson, defender (Valerenga); Liam Henderson, midfielder (Celtic). Loan: Sam Stanton, midfielder (Dumbarton); Lewis Allan, forward (Livingston); Oliver Shaw, forward (Stenhousemuir); Ryan Porteous, defender (Edinburgh City); Aaron Dunsmore, defender (Edinburgh City); Ben Stirling, defender (Berwick Rangers); Sean Mackie, defender (Berwick Rangers).

Queen of the South

Queen of the South

Last season: 7th

Manager: Gavin Skelton

Gavin Skelton has stepped up to manager to replace Jamie Fowler, who exited after Queens failed to make the promotion play-offs and will face similar cash restraints. The Dumfries outfit have lost Scotland youth pair Gary Oliver and Lewis Kidd, but at least Queens received fees for their exits to Morton and Falkirk respectively.

Verdict: 8th. James Fowler paid for missing out on the play-offs, but the Doonhamers might struggle once more to finish in the top half of the table under former assistant Gavin Skelton.

In: Jamie Hamill, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Stephen Dobbie, forward (Bolton Wanderers); Steven Rigg, forward (Carlisle United); Grant Anderson, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Lyndon Dykes, forward (Surfers Paradise Apollo); Lee Robinson, goalkeeper (unattached).

Out: James Fowler, manager (replaced with assistant Gavin Skelton); Gary Oliver, forward (Greenock Morton, undisclosed); Lewis Kidd, defender (Falkirk, undisclosed); Kyle Hutton, midfielder (St Mirren); Ryan Conroy, midfielder (Airdrieonians); Iain Russell, forward (Airdrieonians); Shaun Rutherford, defender (Cowdenbeath); Robbie Thomson, goalkeeper (Hamilton); Jay Munro, midfielder. Loan ended: Andy Murdoch, midfielder (Rangers); Alex Harris, midfielder (Hibernian). Loan: Aidan Smith, forward (Annan Athletic); Jack Leighfield, goalkeeper (Gretna 2008).

Raith Rovers

Raith Rovers

Last season: 4th

Manager: Gary Locke

Gary Locke has a hard act to follow after Ray McKinnon, now at Dundee United, led Rovers to the play-offs. The new Rovers boss will hope that two of his former charges, Chris Johnston and Kevin McHattie, can live up to their previous promise after their arrival from his former club, Kilmarnock. French centre-half Jean-Yves M'voto is one of the division's most intriguing additions. The 27-year-old started his career at Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Sunderland and had spells with Southend United, Oldham Athletic, Barnsley and Leyton Orient before leaving Zawisza Bydgoszcz following their relegation from the Polish top flight.

Verdict: 6th. Gary Locke has a hard act to follow after Ray McKinnon, now at Dundee United, led Rovers to the play-offs. It is such a cut-throat division this season that even improving the squad he inherited is likely to merely mean another campaign scrambling on the fringes of the play-off places.

In: Gary Locke, manager; Darren Jackson, assistant manager; Rudi Skacel, midfielder (Mlada Boleslav); Chris Johnston, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Kevin McHattie, defender (Kilmarnock); Jean-Yves M'voto, defender (Zawisza Bydgoszcz); Conor Brennan, goalkeeper (Kilmarnock); Bobby Barr, midfielder (Greenock Morton); Joel Coustrain, midfielder (Sheffield United); Craig Easton, midfielder (Torquay United); Yaw Osei, forward (Chalfont St Peter). Loan: Aaron Lennox, goalkeeper (Aberdeen); Declan McManus, forward (Fleetwood Town); Jordan Thompson, forward (Rangers); Scott Roberts, midfielder (Rangers).

Out: Ray McKinnon, manager (Dundee United); Laurie Ellis, assistant manager (Dundee United); Lewis Toshney, defender (Dundee United, undisclosed); James Craigen, midfielder (Falkirk); Ross Laidlaw, goalkeeper (Hibernian); Grant Anderson, midfielder (Queen of the South); Rory McKeown, defender (Accrington Stanley); Aidan Connolly, midfielder (York City); Elliot Ford, defender (Brechin City); David McGurn, goalkeeper (Cowdenbeath); Darren Petrie, midfielder (Stirling Albion); Ryan McCord, midfielder (Arbroath); Joel Thomas, forward; Scott Law, goalkeeper; Elliot Ford, defender; Kieran Campbell, defender. Loan ended: Harry Panayioutou, forward (Leicester City); Louis Longridge, forward (Hamilton Academical); Ryan Hardie, forward (Rangers). Loan: David Bates, defender (Rangers); Jonny Court, forward (Montrose); David Mckay, defender (Montrose).

St Mirren

St Mirren

Last season: 6th

Manager: Alex Rae

Having taken over in December and steered St Mirren clear of relegation trouble, Alex Rae has set about putting his own stamp on his side. Stalwarts Jim Goodwin and Steven Thompson have gone, but experienced striker John Sutton has returned and former Doncaster Rovers centre-half Gary MacKenzie could be an excellent addition.

Verdict: 4th. Alex Rae has recruited well and assembled a squad unlikely to suffer the start-of-campaign hangover from relegation they endured last season and that should secure their place among the sides battling for promotion.

In: John Sutton, forward (St Johnstone); Gary MacKenzie, defender (Doncaster Rovers); Rocco Quinn, midfielder (Ross County); Kalvin Orsi, forward (Aberdeen); Kyle Hutton, midfielder (Queen of the South); David Clarkson, midfielder (Motherwell); Ben Gordon, defender (Livingston); Scott Gallacher, goalkeeper (Alloa Athletic). Loan: Tom Walsh, midfielder (Rangers); Lawrence Shankland, forward (Aberdeen); Ryan Hardie, forward (Rangers).

Out: Keith Watson, defender (St Johnstone); Jim Goodwin, midfielder (Alloa Athletic); Steven Thompson, forward (retired); Scott Agnew, midfielder (Stranraer); Liam Dick, defender (Stranraer); Barry Cuddihy, midfielder (Annan Athletic); Alan Gow, forward; Alex Cooper, midfielder; Sean Kelly, defender; Stuart Carswell, midfielder; Cameron Howieson, midfielder; Jaison McGrath, forward. Loan ended: Paul McMullan, forward (Celtic); Lawrence Shankland, forward (Aberdeen). Loan: Ben Gordon, defender (Alloa Athletic).

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