Scottish Championship ins and outs - summer 2014

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland Sport
Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd of Rangers
Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd have renewed their strike partnership with Rangers

Big-club implosions mean attention this coming season will be on the second tier of Scottish football like never before.

League One champions Rangers and relegated Edinburgh pair Hearts and Hibernian will start as favourites as 10 clubs chase just one automatic promotion spot and the two below that lead to a play-off.

New Hibs manager Alan Stubbs' rebuilding job started late as he inherited a squad culled after last season's relegation and has initially looked south of the Border to capture striker Farid El Alagui, midfielder Scott Allan, defender David Gray and goalkeeper Mark Oxley.

Hearts midfielder Morgaro Gomis
Hearts' Morgaro Gomis is one of several well-known players to drop down from the Premiership

Under their own new management of Robbie Neilson as head coach and overlord Craig Levein, Hearts have instigated the biggest turnaround of playing staff in the Championship so far.

While the likes of former Sparta Rotterdam forward Soufian El Hassnaoui and ex-Trabzonspor defender Alim Ozturk are intriguing arrivals, the real headline grabbers have been at Ibrox.

Having won the two leagues below at a canter after their own insolvency event, this is the real test for Rangers and, despite continuing question marks about their finances, they have resurrected the Scotland strike pairing of Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller that served them well in the top flight, albeit now with older legs.

Of the others, Falkirk have picked up the gauntlet under their new manager, Peter Houston, and a young squad that missed out in last season's play-offs has been bolstered by the addition of four players who featured in the Premiership last season.

Alloa Athletic

Alloa Athletic

Key signing: Having spent time with Celtic, Hamilton Accies and Raith Rovers, 22-year-old striker Greig Spence has returned to Alloa and four goals in two cup games have already suggested he can replace Ross Caldwell, who led the line at the tail end of last season on loan from Hibernian.

One that got away: Former Scotland forward Derek Riordan failed to make an impact during his short-term deal and the 31-year-old has drifted off into the football wilderness, his football career a tale of unfulfilled talent.

Last season:8th

Prediction: 9th. Alloa are one of three part-time clubs in the Championship and, as such, are likely to be involved in a scrap at the bottom to avoid relegation.

In: Greig Spence, forward (Raith Rovers); Liam Buchanan, forward (East Fife); Adam Asghar, midfielder (Motherwell); Mark Docherty, defender (Stranraer); David Weatherston, forward (Stirling Albion); John Gibson, goalkeeper (Dundee). Loan: Kyle Benedictus, defender (Dundee).

Out: Scott Bain, goalkeeper (Dundee); James Creaney, defender (Stirling Albion); Darren Young, midfielder (Albion Rovers); Derek Riordan, forward; Andy Kirk, forward; Willie Robertson, midfielder (Stirling Albion); Iain Flannigan, midfielder. Loan ended: Ross Caldwell, forward (Hibernian); Liam Lindsay, defender (Partick Thistle); Liam Caddis, midfielder (St Johnstone).



Key signing: Danijel Jurisic, 25, capped at youth level with Slovenia and previously of Austrian club Lannach, is one of three strikers brought in by Jimmy Nicholl in the hope of finding a replacement for departed duo Kane Hemmings and Greg Stewart.

One that got away: Kane Hemmings' 24 goals in 39 appearances for a side struggling against relegation led to the former Rangers youth winning a move to Barnsley.

Last season: 9th

Prediction: 10th. Jimmy Nicholl worked wonders to first avoid automatic relegation then win a play-off against Dunfermline Athletic, but the Blue Brazil's part-time status guarantees another struggle.

In: Robbie Thomson, goalkeeper (Rochdale); Danijel Jurisic, forward (Lannach); Craig Sutherland, forward (Queen's Park); Darren Brownlie, defender (Partick Thistle); Iain Campbell, defender (Forfar Athletic); Sean Higgins, forward (Stenhousemuir); Pat Scullion, midfielder (Clyde); Anthony Higgins, forward (Airdrieonians). Loan : Kudus Oyenuga, forward (Dundee United); Marcus Fraser, defender (Celtic); Calum Gallagher, forward (Rangers); Declan Hughes, midfielder (St Mirren).

Out: Kane Hemmings, forward (Barnsley); Greg Stewart, forward (Dundee); Jamie Stevenson, midfielder (Peterhead); Marc McKenzie, forward (Albion Rovers); Seb Usai, goalkeeper; Jamie Pyper, midfielder. Loan ended: James Fowler, defender (Kilmarnock); Rory McKeown, defender (Kilmarnock); David Gold, midfielder (Hibernian); Darren Brownlie, defender (Partick Thistle).



Key signing: Lee Mair, ex of Partick Thistle, along with former St Mirren team-mate David van Zanten, will add experience to the Sons defence.

One that got away: Paul McGinn was tipped for bigger things when he joined St Mirren but has been given a second chance in Scotland's top flight after the 23-year-old full-back joined promoted Dundee.

Last season: 5th

Prediction: 7th. Dumbarton punched above their weight last season, but finances will dictate more than ever in the Championship this time round, although Ian Murray's side are likely to finish at least the best of the three part-time outfits.

In: Guillame Beuzelin, assistant manager; David Van Zanten, defender (St Mirren); Lee Mair, defender (Partick Thistle); Archie Campbell, forward (Greenock Morton); Scott Taggart, midfielder (Greenock Morton). Loan: Danny Rogers, goalkeeper (Aberdeen); Chris Kane, forward (St Johnstone); Kieran MacDonald, defender (Hamilton Academical).

Out: Jack Ross, assistant manager (Hearts); Paul McGinn, defender (Dundee); Bryan Prunty, forward (Airdrieonians); Scott Smith, defender (East Fife); Kevin Smith, forward (East Fife); Martin McNiff, defender (Annan Athletic); Alan Deans, defender (East Stirlingshire); Nicky Phinn, midfielder; Owen Ronald, midfielder. Loan ended: Michael Miller, midfielder (Celtic); Callum Thomson, defender (St Mirren); Chris Kane, forward (St Johnstone).



Key signing: Jamie MacDonald's heroics delayed Hearts' inevitable relegation last season and the 28-year-old goalkeeper's capture is a major coup for new Falkirk manager Peter Houston.

One that got away: Falkirk accepted the inevitable as Scotland Under-19 full-back Stephen Kingsley left for Swansea City - but not without a transfer fee for the 20-year-old.

Last season: 3rd

Prediction: 4th. The Bairns appear to be the only side capable of getting in amongst the financial giants of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers, but their ability to mount a play-off challenge may depend on whether they can avoid losing any more of their talented youngsters to potential suitors.

In: Peter Houston, manager (Celtic); Alan Maybury, defender-coach (Hibernian); Jamie MacDonald, goalkeeper (Hearts); Tom Taiwo, midfielder (Hibernian); Alex Cooper, midfielder (Ross County); Peter Grant, midfielder (Peterborough United); David Smith, midfielder (Hearts), Owain Tudur Jones (Hibernian). Loan: Joe Shaughnessy, defender (Aberdeen).

Out: Gary Holt, manager (Norwich City); Stevie Crawford, assistant manager (Hearts); Stephen Kingsley, defender (Swansea City, undisclosed); Conor McGrandles, midfielder (Norwich City, undisclosed); Michael McGovern, goalkeeper (Hamilton Academical); Johnny Flynn, defender, (Cliftonville); Steven Brisbane, midfielder (East Stirlingshire); Connor Greene, defender (East Stirlingshire); Kris Faulds, midfielder; Kyle Turnbull, defender. Loan ended: Mark Miller, midfielder (St Johnstone); Joe Chalmers, defender (Celtic); Mark Beck, forward (Carlisle United).

Heart of Midlothian

Heart of Midlothian

Key signing: Hearts' new owners and management team have made so many impressive signings and re-uniting former Tannadice duo Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben will give them a creative midfield base. Turkey Under-21 cap Alim Ozturk could form a formidable central defence alongside Danny Wilson, but Swedish striker Osman Sow could prove to be their most astute addition.

One that got away: Jamie MacDonald was a victim of the club's financial cull despite being the stand-out performer as Hearts were relegated last season, but former Scotland goalkeeper Neil Alexander is a more-than-able replacement.

Last season: 12th, Premiership

Prediction: 1st. Hearts may well have avoided relegation last season had it not been for a 15-point deduction for being in administration. Their new management team appear to have added good experience to the young talent that emerged last term and have the ability to edge out Rangers and Hibs for the title.

In: Craig Levein, director of football; Robbie Neilson, head coach (East Fife); Stevie Crawford, assistant head coach (Falkirk); Morgaro Gomis, midfielder (Dundee United); Prince Buaben, midfielder (Carlisle United); Adam Eckersley, defender (AGF Aarhus); Soufian El Hassnaoui, forward (Sparta Rotterdam); Alim Ozturk, defender (Trabzonspor); Neil Alexander, goalkeeper-coach (Crystal Palace); Osman Sow, forward (Crystal Palace); James Keatings, forward (Hamilton Academical); Liam Henderson, defender (Hutchison Vale); Alistair Roy, forward (Stirling Albion); Lee Hollis, goalkeeper (Motherwell); Miguel Pallardo, midfielder (Levante).

Out: Gary Locke, manager; Billy Brown, assistant manager; Alan Combe, goalkeeper/coach (Hibernian); Ryan Stevenson, midfielder (Partick Thistle); Jamie Hamill, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Jamie MacDonald, goalkeeper (Falkirk); Mark Ridgers, goalkeeper (St Mirren); David Smith, midfielder (Falkirk); Dylan McGowan, defender (Adelaide United); Callum Tapping, midfielder (Brechin City); Jack Simpson, midfielder (Hamilton Academical); Kai Wilson, defender (Berwick Rangers). Loan: Gary Oliver, forward (Stenhousemuir); Liam Smith, defender (East Fife). Loan ended: Paul McCallum, forward (West Ham United).



Key signing: Farid El Alagui has proved his goalscoring prowess at this level previously with Falkirk before heading for Brentford and the 28-year-old French striker faces the challenge of doing the same again in a league bolstered by Hearts and Rangers, while former Hearts and Manchester United trainee David Gray looks like a find at right-back.

One that got away: A whole squad of players were ditched from Easter Road along with Terry Butcher and his management team, and none had performed sufficiently well for Hibs fans to lament their exits.

Last season: 11th, Premiership.

Prediction: 3rd. Hibs looked physically stronger and a better footballing side than Rangers despite their League Cup exit in their first competitive outing under new manager Alan Stubbs, but a lack of squad depth might hamper their title chances.

In: Alan Stubbs, manager (Everton); Andy Holden, assistant manager; John Doolan, first-team coach (Wigan Athletic); Alan Combe, goalkeeper/coach (Hearts); Scott Allan, midfielder (West Bromwich Albion); Farid El Alagui, forward (Brentford); David Gray, defender (Burton Albion); Liam Fontaine, defender (Bristol City), Dominique Malonga, forward (Cesena). Loan: Mark Oxley, goalkeeper (Hull City); Matthew Kennedy, midfielder (Everton); Dylan McGeouch, midfielder (Celtic); Jake Sinclair, forward (Southampton).

Out: Terry Butcher, manager; James Collins, forward (Shrewsbury Town, undisclosed); Owain Tudur Jones, midfielder; Kevin Thomson, midfielder (Dundee); James McPake,external-link defender (Dundee); Paul Cairney, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Ross Caldwell, forward (St Mirren); Ryan McGivern, defender (Port Vale); Alan Maybury, defender (Falkirk); Tom Taiwo, midfielder (Falkirk); Bradley Donaldson, defender (Livingston); Ryan Baptie, defender (Inverness Caledonian Thistle); Ben Williams, goalkeeper (Bradford City); Paul Grant, goalkeeper (Livingston); Robert Wilson, defender (Airdrieonians); Jay Doyle, forward (East Stirlingshire); Dean Horribine, midfielder (Berwick Rangers); David Gold, midfielder (Berwick Rangers); Euan Bauld, defender (Berwick Rangers); Euan Smith, midfielder (Kilmarnock); Michael Nelson (Cambridge United); Sean Murdoch, goalkeeper, Owain Tudur Jones (Falkirk). Loan ended: Daniel Boateng, defender (Arsenal); Danny Haynes, forward (Notts County); Duncan Watmore, midfielder (Sunderland).



Key signing: Despite the addition of former Raith Rovers man Gary Glen, one-time Hearts trainee and Wales Under-21 cap Rob Ogleby and Jordan White, whose goals helped Stirling Albion win promotion from League Two, 19-year-old Myles Hippolyte, plucked from obscurity with Southall in the Spartans South Midlands League Division One, could be Livi's star striker.

One that got away: Sheffield United raided Livi in search of the next Stefan Scougall and, if 22-year-old Marc McNulty matches the impact of the midfielder, the League One side will have found a £100,000 bargain striker.

Last season: 6th

Prediction: 8th. Livingston might flirt with relegation but should be safe as they settle into a role as a breeding ground of talent.

In: Gary Glen, forward (Ross County); David Robertson, midfielder (Greenock Morton); Declan Gallagher, defender (Dundee); Myles Hippolyte, forward (Southall); Jordan White, forward (Stirling Albion); Rob Ogleby, forward (Wrexham); Bradley Donaldson, defender (Hibernian); Michael McKenna, midfielder (Musselburgh Athletic). Paul Grant, goalkeeper (Hibernian).

Out: Marc McNulty, forward (Sheffield United, undisclosed); Martin Scott, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Andrew Barrowman, forward (Greenock Morton); Kyle Turnbull, defender (Albion Rovers); Michal Habai, defender; Nejc Mevlja, defender; Mike Mampuya, defender; Kyle Wilkie, midfielder; Ross Docherty, midfielder; Jordan Baillie, midfielder; Taylor Black, defender; David Bonnar, midfielder; Dylan Clark, Jed Davie, forward; Jack Downie, midfielder; George Hunter, midfielder; Kyle Martin, midfielder; Scott Wilson, midfielder.

Queen of the South

Queen of the South

Key signing: Striker John Baird, 28, will hope to continue where he left off last season, when he scored seven goals in 13 games on loan to Raith Rovers from Partick Thistle.

One that got away: Wily assistant manager Gerry McCabe was poached by promoted Dundee before manager Jim McIntyre left for Ross County.

Last season: 5th

Prediction: 5th. The Dumfries side will trouble the top teams on their good days, but another mid-table finish is as good as they can hope for.

In: James Fowler, defender-coach (Kilmarnock); John Baird, forward (Raith Rovers); Lewis Kidd, defender (Celtic). Loan: Zander Clark, goalkeeper (St Johnstone).

Out: Jim McIntyre, manager (Ross County); Gerry McCabe, assistant manager (Dundee); Derek Young, midfielder (Forfar Athletic); Calum Antell, goalkeeper; Scott Hooper, defender; Aidan Smith, forward; Dean Smith, forward. Loan ended: Zander Clark, goalkeeper (St Johnstone); Liam Caddis, midfielder (St Johnstone); Bob McHugh, forward (Motherwell).

Raith Rovers

Raith Rovers

Key signing: Winger Ryan Conroy is an experienced campaigner at this level and helped Dundee win the title last season.

One that got away: Having experienced the top flight previously with Dunfermline Athletic, tricky winger Joe Cardle has joined promoted Dundee.

Last season: 7th

Prediction: 6th. Grant Murray's side are likely to concentrate again on avoiding relegation rather than looking far above this season.

In: Christian Nade, forward (Dundee); Ross Perry, defender (Rangers); Mark Stewart, forward (Derry City); Kevin Cuthbert, goalkeeper (Hamilton Academical); Martin Scott, midfielder (Livingston); Ryan Conroy, midfielder (Dundee); Rory McKeown, defender (Kilmarnock); Craig Barr, defender (Airdrieonians). Loan: Barrie McKay, midfielder (Rangers).

Out: Paul Smith, assistant manager; Joe Cardle, midfielder (Ross County); John Baird, forward (Queen of the South); Greig Spence, forward (Alloa Athletic); Gordon Smith, forward (Stirling Albion); Reece Donaldson, defender (Peterhead); Fraser Mullen, defender (East Fife); Billy Vidler, forward (East Stirlingshire); Daniel Tobin, goalkeeper (Stranraer); Jamie Watson, forward. Loan ended: Callum Booth, defender (Hibernian).



Key signing: Fellow Ibrox returnee Kenny Miller is better known worldwide, but Kris Boyd, at 30, is four years younger and will go a long way to helping Rangers win the title if he can match his goalscoring form with Kilmarnock in the Premiership last season.

One that got away: In a rare role reversal, Dundee United managed to poach a promising teenager from Rangers, with midfielder Charlie Telfer heading to Tannadice in return for a compensation fee.

Last season: League One champions.

Prediction: 2nd. Rangers have romped to two titles in a row, but vultures of financial uncertainty continue to encircle Ibrox. This will be a real sustained test for manager Ally McCoist, whose side all too often perform to less than the sum of their parts.

In: Kenny Miller, forward (Vancouver Whitecaps); Kris Boyd, forward (Kilmarnock); Darren McGregor, defender (St Mirren); Marius Zaliukas, defender (Leeds United). Lee Robinson, goalkeeper (Unattached).

Out: Andy Little, forward (Preston North End); Charlie Telfer, midfielder (Dundee United, compensation); Chris Hegarty, defender (Linfield); Ross Perry, defender (Raith Rovers). Loan: Barrie McKay, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Calum Gallagher, forward (Cowdenbeath); Robbie Crawford, midfielder (Greenock Morton); Kyle McAusland, defender (Brechin City); Luca Gasparotto, defender (Airdrieonians); Tom Walsh, midfielder (Stenhousemuir); Danny Stoney, midfielder (Stranraer); Craig Halkett, defender (Clyde).

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