|Shane Ferguson in action for Northern Ireland|
The Premier League's January Transfer window shut with a disappointing late surge of activity for many of the club's. However the same can't be said for Rangers FC who have completed the deadline day signing of FIVE Newcastle United players on loan deals. Of these five, perhaps the most interesting is the switch by Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson. The move will see the Derry native - a self confessed Celtic fan - join the Gers for the remainder of the season.
The news will come as a huge blow to the mindless minority of Old Firm supporters who still harbour the old sectarian attitudes of the past. Many of a Celtic-minded disposition will find the story of this young Roman Catholc - and former Gaelic footballer - crossing the once well-guarded religious divide in Glasgow to join a club typecast as 'Loyalist and Protestant' troubling indeed. Others though, welcome it. The myth that Rangers only signed Protestant players has been exposed for what it is - a myth. But then sometimes you're damned if you do and damned if you dont. Take Republic of Ireland native Jon Daly's move to Ibrox last year for example. The player was berrated for breaking the mould and becoming the first post-troubles Irishman to play for the club. Thankfully, much of the vemon directed towards Dubliner Daly was limited to the usual bile that is often spewed on social media websites.
However, it is transfer activity such as this which can help break down the religious barriers that still exist in Glasgow today. But it is important to note, as history has told us before, the deep rooted hatred between the Old Firm support will never be totally eradicated, as the Mo Johnston saga confirmed. The rivalry is what it is. Love them or loathe them, it's what makes the game tick in Scotland and is the reason it is such a big draw for not just UK and Irish audiences, but on a global scale too.
With the Old Firm currently in different leagues, the prospect of a clash with his supposed boyhood favourites Celtic is now firmly off the menu for Shane. For the duration of his loan period, the player can let his footballing do the talking, and try to play his way back into the Newcastle United side. The talent is there in abundance, so it's now up to Shane to live up to those high expectations that had propelled him into international football at such a tender age.
Fair play to Shane for challenging the age-old stereotypes that all too often drag down the old firm. Although, for the player this move will be seen as an opportunity for some much needed game time. His international manager Michael O'Neill will be espeically delighted considering the crucial couple of games coming up for Northern Ireland in the race for Euro 2016.
There's a reason the FAI were hoping he would defect, you know...