The weirdest story of the winter transfer window has come to a close as Duncan McGuire’s loan move to Blackburn Rovers in the English Championship will not be happening due to a paperwork error by Blackburn. The Championship club hit save and not submit on the application to complete McGuire’s move and missed the deadline, with the club’s appeal being denied on Thursday.
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Drafted by Orlando City before last season, McGuire enjoyed an excellent debut campaign for the Lions with 13 goals and three assists which led to interest from the listed Championship clubs and FC Midtjylland.
The EFL released the below statement on the matter:
The EFL Board has today upheld the decision of the EFL executive to reject the application from Blackburn Rovers to register Duncan McGuire on loan from Orlando City.
The EFL initially rejected the request to register the player on the grounds that Blackburn had failed to submit the required paperwork by the 11 p.m. transfer deadline on 1 February 2024 but the club asked that the board review that decision. Blackburn Rovers admitted it did not click to submit the application to the EFL until after the closure of the window as a result of human error but argued that all relevant details had been agreed, signed and uploaded onto the system in advance of 11 pm.
Upon comprehensive review of submissions, the board determined that the upload of documents into a draft application area did not constitute sending documents to the EFL. It also took the decision that it was not prepared to exercise discretion to permit the registration outside of the window as the EFL executive had correctly interpreted and applied its regulations and associated Guidance.
Before the matter was considered by the Board, the three Championship Directors and the League Two representative declared an interest and did not participate in vote.
McGuire, after just celebrating his 23rd birthday, will now return to Orlando City who are set to begin their season on Feb. 20 in Concacaf Champions Cup play in an away trip to Calvary. McGuire was in attendance for Blackburn’s 2-1 loss to Queen’s Park Rangers as he was in England to determine the outcome of the hearing on Thursday.
McGuire’s roundabout with Blackburn
It’s hard not to feel bad for McGuire as Blackburn have now put the young striker through a rollercoaster of emotions. Initially, everything was set for McGuire to join Blackburn on a permanent deal until the club notified Orlando City that they’d be pulling out of the deal while the striker was in the air traveling for his medical, per reports.
That led to Sheffield Wednesday re-entering talks with Orlando after thinking that their deal was off but Blackburn came back to the table agreeing to a loan-to-buy deal that was announced just before the deadline on Feb. 1. Down to including a welcome video for the USMNT international, all seemed well before whispers of registration issues came up when he wasn’t in the squad versus QPR, now leading to the entire deal being off.
In a statement released after the EFL board appeal, Blackburn expressed interest in signing McGuire on a free transfer but that’s a little tricky considering that McGuire not only has other options in the transfer market but Blackburn could also be relegated this season. Only safe by five points as we reach the business end of the Championship season, if McGuire were to sign on a pre-contract and see Blackburn relegated, he may have been better off staying with Orlando.
“As was previously communicated by the club, Rovers will fly over to the United States over the coming weeks to try to conclude a pre-contract agreement with Orlando City, so that the 23-year forward can officially become a Rovers player in the summer,” Blackburn said in a club statement.
There are also reports that Rovers boss Jon Dahl Tomasson has offered to step down as the manager of the club due to the turmoil that has happened this season. This is the second time that this has happened as he also offered to leave during the summer as it “wasn’t the project that he signed up for.” If that were to happen, not only would McGuire have to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing where the club would be playing but he’d also not know who his manager would be.
Could McGuire stay in Orlando?
Prior to the transfer being agreed to, Orlando had been trying to extend his contract but CBS Sports understands that McGuire rejected the latest offer. The Lions could come back to the table to push for another extension to avoid McGuire leaving on a free transfer.
“Following the decision by the EFL board, Duncan McGuire will return to Orlando City in the coming days. We understand and sympathize with Duncan’s situation over the last week,” Orlando City said in a statement. “He’s still an important part of our club and we are committed to providing him with a platform for his growth. We look forward to welcoming him back into our environment soon.”
In the meantime, the Lions are reportedly close to completing a deal for Atalanta striker Luis Muriel. It is set to be a permanent deal for around €2 million, according to Fabrizio Romano. The 32-year-old Colombian has played sparingly for the Italian side this season making only 18 appearances, scoring two goals and assisting one more as his production has fallen every season since scoring 22 Serie A goals in the 2020-21 season.
Muriel can spell McGuire as Orlando will be competing in multiple competitions this season but the idea was for Muriel to eventually be the replacement starter for Oscar Pareja’s side as the Lions usually start one striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. They’ll now have to not only figure out what McGuire’s future holds but also how to get the best out of their two strikers while they have them.