Stoke City: Potters could risk legal fight for Rangers midfielder Jamie Ness
STOKE are ready to risk a legal battle by making Rangers midfielder Jamie Ness their first signing of the summer.
City are attempting to recruit the 21-year-old on a free transfer from the crisis-hit Glasgow giants.
Ness, who has made 18 appearances for the Scottish club, has exercised his right to terminate his contract with the soon-to-be-liquidated Rangers rather than transfer to the reformed "newco" club.
The Scottish PFA believe all players who have done so are free agents and have asked the football authorities to release their registration from Rangers, but newco chief executive Charles Green has vowed to seek compensation.
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That means Stoke's move for Ness may be complicated by legal wranglings if Green follows through with his threat to take action against the players and claim transfer fees from the clubs they join.
Ness is a Scotland under-21s international who made a name for himself with a stunning long-range goal against Celtic in a Scottish Cup tie in January 2011.
However, he missed most of last season because of a groin injury which he believed was caused by him growing. It has restricted him to 18 appearances in 18 months.
It was reported yesterday that Ness met Stoke manager Tony Pulis earlier this week at the club's Clayton Wood, but this could not be confirmed last night.
It is thought the deal could be completed in the next few days, although it remains unclear whether the youngster has undergone a medical yet.
Ally Redford, secretary of the Glasgow Rangers Stoke-on-Trent Supporters' Club, has followed Ness's career with interest.
He said: "Stoke would be getting a good player. He's got a great left foot and can play on the left side of midfield, although he is a midfielder rather than a winger.
"Without doubt he can pick a pass, although sometimes it's a 40-yarder rather than a more simple five-yard pass.
"He has great potential, and the goal he scored against Celtic last year was one of the best I have ever seen.
"My only concern would be how he would cope physically because he didn't play much last year.
"Playing for Stoke is demanding, and playing in the Premier League is certainly more demanding than Scottish football."
The move could set a precedent as a number of Rangers players look to leave the club.
Sone Aluko, Steven Davis, John Fleck, Kyle Lafferty, Rhys McCabe, Allan McGregor, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker are also legally challenging the proposed transfer of their contracts to the new Rangers club.
As well as agreeing personal terms with Ness, Stoke will have to apply for an international transfer certificate from the Scottish FA. Green's lawyers could attempt to block this and either seek a judicial review or take the case to FIFA.
The new Rangers club won't be allowed to play in the Scottish Premier next season, so are waiting to see if they will be accepted into the Scottish First Division.
Supporters club secretary Redford added: "We fill a coach up from Stoke for more or less every game, although that might be more difficult next season."