McKinlay is taking the club to court in a wrangle over the legality of an eight-and-a-half year deal he signed as a teenager, claiming it is a restraint of trade. The player and his advisers are convinced they will win the case on 13 December, and that would make him a free agent with no transfer fee on his head.
McKinlay will ask United to give him a percentage of the profit, because if he stays they could get nothing. McKinlay flies out with Scotland today intent on winning his 14th cap in the friendly against Sweden. Blackburn are happy to wait until the end of the week for his signature while he sorts out his severance payment.
Ray Harford, the Blackburn manager, is sure he has captured the player after talking to him and showing him round Ewood Park on Saturday - while the admission of defeat from Celtic's manager, Tommy Burns, after a last- ditch record contract offer has left Blackburn as the only club with the money. Now United have to decide whether to give McKinlay part of their profit - or take him on in court and risk losing everything.