Leeds close in on first January signing TSS January 8, 2014 Transfer News 23 Comments While the takeover of Haigh and Flowers consortium is being held back by Football League bureaucracy, Brian McDermott has still been able to make progress with a deal for Hull City Tiger’s Cameron Stewart, the player who is expected to be his first signing of the January transfer window. The Yorkshire Evening Post believe that Stewart will complete a move to Elland Road within the next 48 hours, though he can only arrive as an emergency loanee since Football League rules prevent him signing a permanent deal with another club this season. An agreement for Stewart to sign permanently with the club as soon as he’s allowed to do so will be agreed before the loan is confirmed, which makes an absolutely mockery of the emergency loan rule and the rule which prevents him signing permanently at this stage, but since it works in our favour, we’ll not worry about that too much (though you do have to wonder why the Football League make up these silly and easy to exploit rules in the first place?) Quite where this leaves Hull City Tigers in terms of a transfer fee is difficult to say. By the time Cameron Stewart can sign for Leeds permanently, his contract with the Tigers will have expired meaning he’d presumably be available on a free transfer. The only way Hull can benefit from this (aside from getting his wages off their books) is if Leeds agree to pay a fee for the loan agreement, which could be used as a way to pay the transfer fee without actually completing a transfer per se… If this is the case, there’d be a bit of a ‘Gentlemen’s agreement’ involved between all three parties. The Tigers retain Stewart’s contract until it expires so they’d have to honour the loan agreement we’d be paying for while Stewart would have to honour the agreement to sign for us when he does become a free agent – at which point, he could technically sign for anyone and Leeds will have paid Hull money for a player they only had for 93 days. All hypothetical of course and I’m sure if there is a fee involved, Leeds are doing everything possible to protect themselves, but it demonstrates how pointless some of the rules introduced in recent years really are. The Emergency Loan rule was expected to be a short-term fix for a goalkeeper crisis, but clubs regularly use it as a stop-gap between the point where they can sign a player permanently – so why bother with it at all? What’s more important than the agreement that brings him here of course, is what we’ll be getting. At his best, Stewart is exactly what we’ve been lacking since Gradel and Snoddy left, a natural winger who isn’t afraid to run at the opposition to create chances and stretch the game, creating opportunities and space for other players. He’s also very young too (22), which after years of signing has-been journeymen will come as a relief to many. With youth comes a bit of inexperience, but Stewart has made 86 professional appearances so far for the likes of Blackburn and Hull, so he should be able to slot straight in to first team contention. One slight concern is injuries and fitness. Stewart sustained a serious injury in 2011 which kept him sidelined for 9 months, but he did come back towards the end of 2011 and went on to enjoy a strong season for Hull in which he made 32 appearances. However, it all seems to have gone downhill since then. Since the start of 2012-13, Stewart has made just 8 appearances for Hull (5 of which were in cup competitions) and drew criticism from Steve Bruce for a lack of fitness at the start of 2013. Stewart was subsequently loaned to Burnley and Blackburn Rovers, where he managed to get a good run of games under his belt. This season, Stewart has been with Charlton Athletic where he appears to have been a regular inclusion in the first team, which should mean he’s in good shape and ready to hit the floor running for Leeds. As with any player, there’s a degree of risk in signing Stewart, but at his best, he’s a winger Leicester City once offered £1.5m for and Hull City Tigers thought good enough to reject. If Brian McDermott can get him performing week in, week out, then there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be a valuable addition to our squad.