The Andrew Gutman Saga refuses to die, evidently.
As we wrote yesterday, the Indiana defender and erstwhile Chicago Fire academy player signed for Scottish Premiership giants Celtic FC. This came after Gutman rejected an offer from the Fire earlier in the offseason to sign with the club as a Homegrown Player.
Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez confirmed Gutman’s move to Glasgow last month at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and Celtic made the signing official on transfer deadline day in the UK on Thursday. With the announcement, Celtic made note that Gutman would be immediately loaned back to “the USA” to get some minutes and development this season before moving to Scotland full-time. A short time later, USL-Championship team (and MLS expansion franchise for 2020) Nashville SC announced that they were taking Gutman on loan for this season.
That loan deal is now dead.
Nashville SC released this statement this morning saying, essentially, that MLS had put the kibosh on Gutman’s loan deal.
This past week, Nashville Soccer Club had announced its intent to take defender Andrew Gutman on loan from Celtic F.C. However, as an expansion member of MLS and in light of the fact that MLS does not support the transaction, Nashville will not be proceeding with the loan.
We wish Andrew the best this season, and we will have no further comment on the matter.
The original release on the club website announcing the loan deal appears to have been taken down, as well as their Twitter post.
So, the most likely theory here is that the Fire FO and ownership pulled some strings with the league to have the deal killed. Maybe they felt Nashville was circumventing the rules on Homegrown player rights in order to sign a someone who “belonged” to Chicago without compensation. Maybe they thought the PR hit was too much. (Although, if it’s one thing this FO has demonstrated in recent years, it’s that they’re not afraid of a little bad publicity.) Maybe this was just pure spite. Who knows.
Less likely is that the league made the decision to intervene, independent of whatever the Fire FO wanted. It’s unlikely that the league felt that any negative PR was going to affect them, and in general they don’t tend to let the Fire deal with its own problems (at least in public). If this was the league acting on its own, it was more likely that the player rights issue was the sticking point. MLS goes to a lot of trouble to enforce their own rules (except when they don’t), even when those rules aren’t totally clear or when they make them up on the fly. In other words, the league’s decision to step in may have had nothing to do with the Fire and everything about demonstrating their power to the newcomers.
Regardless, Gutman won’t be playing in Nashville this season. There are unconfirmed reports that he’s headed to Charlotte Independence, but at this point you should probably take even official club announcements with a grain of salt.