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Worst signings of the 2023/24 Premiership season (part 1)



Ah, it's that time of year again. I don't have much time for blogging these days, but I will always try and make an exception for this.

The eleven previous 'winners' of our Worst Signing award:

2012/13: Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock)

2013/14: Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren)

2014/15: Jim Fenlon (Ross County)

2015/16: Rodney Sneijder (Dundee United)

2016/17: Joey Barton (Rangers)

2017/18: Eduardo Herrera (Rangers)

2018/19: Umar Sadiq (Rangers)

2019/20: Madis Vihmann (St. Johnstone)

2020/21: Shane Duffy (Celtic)

2021/22: Matty Longstaff (Aberdeen)

2022/23: Anthony Stewart (Aberdeen)

Yes, Mark Birighitti should have won last year, not least because if one of those eleven was a keeper then we could have had a proper starting XI of crap.

So as is tradition, the list is split in two. This is the appetiser, if you like; a countdown of the players I ranked from 11 to 25. The main course is still to come, but folk will at least be able to work out the ten names based on who hasn't been mentioned so far.

Given they have stunk up the place this season, I am surprised as anyone by the lack of Livingston players. Seems like they just signed an awful lot of 'not very good' rather than 'awful beyond belief' but I'm happy to be corrected on this...



Hooray for loan players who never actually play! Bevan's move from Bournemouth to Hibs lasted about 30 seconds before it was cancelled due to aggravation of an existing injury. Lewis, meanwhile, remained at Dundee for the entire first half of the season without playing a single competitive first team game. He did however get a run out in Cammy Kerr's testimonial where after 70 minutes he was replaced (kind of) by Ivano Bonetti...

Signed on loan from Sheffield United on deadline day at the end of the winter window. Played 33 minutes as a sub in the defeat to Morton in the cup. Left 20 days after signing for 'personal reasons'. Maybe one day he can come back, possibly in a coaching role?

Is Teto still a Livingston player? Heck, was he ever a Livingston player? The young South African midfielder was signed even though he was denied a work permit, because it was thought he'd be eligible for one once he'd been called up for the next international U-23 squad. The only problem was that South Africa U-23s haven't played since March 2023 and don't have any fixtures the meantime the club announced a plan for him to go out on loan, which never happened, and by January he had to return to South Africa as his visa had expired. The plot thickens still further, as he has three years left on his contract but Livi claim that his wages are paid by his former club TS Galaxy. No, I have no idea why that would be the case either.


A former Scotland under-21 international (no, I'd not heard of him either) the 22 year old Huddersfield loanee managed 24 minutes of first team action across two sub appearances for County before returning south in January, meaning that he played more first team minutes for his parent club this season (45 in the English League Cup). High has subsequently moved to Dundalk where he is doing rather better.


Costelloe has done rather better after he switched loan clubs from St. Johnstone to Dundee in January, but Saints fans are unanimous in their derision for his performances in the first half of the season. Costelloe notched up as many red cards as goals for St. Johnstone. Charlie Adam, who is Burnley's loan manager, insisted in October that Costelloe was "loving it" in Perth; Costelloe later admitted it reached the point that he received 'hate mail' from supporters.


The 24 year old New Zealand international signed in January after ten months without a club; Stuart Kettlewell boasted that he could "add a lot to the team". So far that consists of five occasions as an unused substitute. Still, I like the picture there that the club used to announce his arrival, which has massive 'cover of former nineties boyband member's debut single' vibes.


McClelland seems to have improved Dundee United's defence since moving there on loan, but it seems unlikely that he has a future at McDiarmid Park. The Northern Irishman was one of a number of Steven MacLean signings who were quickly sidelined by Craig Levein. The Saints were winless in his seven appearances for them and his last Premiership game was at the end of September.


Van Veen's incredible 2022-23 season for Motherwell feels like it was a long time ago now. The veteran Dutch striker had lots of loan suitors in January but chose Kilmarnock where a combination of the excellent form of Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins and some lacklustre showings off the bench have meant nothing but sub appearances (apart from a single cup start). Maybe he just needs a run of games, but he's not done enough to deserve it. And one suspects Killie are paying a decent proportion of a decent wage. Van Veen also gets marked down for his squad number; '99' is an ice cream with a flake, not a number on a football shirt, and no-one will ever convince me otherwise.


Turner-Cooke's season-long loan from Newcastle was cut short in January after just six appearances, ostensibly because of a hernia. However he'd barely played since Craig Levein became manager and has not been missed. The club's record whilst he was on the pitch? Scored zero, conceded six.


Kilmarnock are lucky that Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins have stayed fit as well as in form all season. Dallas came off the bench fifteen times and scored zero goals before returning to parent club Barnsley in January. He spent the second half of the season on loan at Oldham, where he hasn't scored either. Curiously, there is an ongoing EFL investigation into the paperwork (at Barnsley's end) regarding the loan move to Killie.


Celtic fancy that they can afford seven figure sums on 'developmental players' - see also Kwon Hyeok-kyu - but they really can't. A £1.5m winger needs to be challenging for first team action from the get-go, but Tilio - whose fee was the highest ever for an A-League player - was so far away from that level that he was loaned back to Melbourne City in the January transfer window. His manager in Oz claimed Tilio "hadn't had much fun at Celtic". I imagine the feeling is mutual. The Australian's two sub appearances may ultimately be his only ones for the club.


It's less than eight years since a teenage Borthwick-Jackson was starting games for Manchester United in the Premier League. The left-back said he moved on loan to Dingwall from Slask Wroclaw because he "felt wanted" by them; that feeling won't have lasted long, as Borthwick-Jackson's only four starts came in his first four games at the club and he's been stuck on the bench ever since a 5-0 pasting at Motherwell ended Derek Adams' tenure..


Unlike most names on this list, Nottingham has been a first choice for his club this season when fit, but Livi fans are unanimous in their derision for his performances, to the point that I feared a lynching if I didn't put him on this list. The 34 year old was supposed to add experience and leadership to the defence but instead has been one of the factors in their slide towards the Championship.


Nine months before signing for Aberdeen, Dadia made his international debut for Israel, meaning that he has played once more for his country than he ever did for the Dons. Dadia rarely made the bench unless it was a Conference League game where each team is allowed a million subs and even when Nicky Devlin wasn't playing he still couldn't get in the team. Terminating his loan in January was a blessing for everyone. And as for that moustache in his signing photo...I can't get the thought of him saying "I have come to fix ze fridge" in a Dutch accent out of my head.


Nawrocki avoids the top ten on the grounds that there still seems to be a small chance that his Celtic career can be salvaged. He's also had ongoing issues with a hamstring injury and hasn't completed 90 minutes since August. Nevertheless, one would have expected a £4m centre-back to start more than six league games (at the time of writing) and certainly not to be left out at times in favour of Liam Scales and Stephen Welsh. 

The top ten will be up in the coming days...

Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.    

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