“League games more important than Cup Final” – Pat Fenlon before Dons clash

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon spoke to our sports reporter Joe Birchenall ahead of his sides fixture tonight at Easter Road. Fenlon’s charges face Aberdeen, a side who they have not beaten in the league since May last year. However, Hibs face the Dons on the back of a thrilling Scottish Cup semi-final win against Falkirk, which saw them claim a 4 – 3 victory despite finishing the first half three goals down. Fenlon, however, is keen to push on and to focus on remaining league games, saying he is disappointed to have finished outside of the top six.

Fenlon also discusses the breakthrough of youngsters Alex Harris and Danny Handling, his reaction to Neil Lennon’s SFA woes and the imminent departure of Hibs top scorer Leigh Griffiths.

Spartans “disappointed” at league reconstruction

by Joseph Birchenall

Edinburgh community club The Spartans FC have expressed disappointment at the SPL’s failure to reach an agreement on leaugue reconstruction.badge

Depsite the fact that the club plays in the East of Scotland league, they have released the following statement:

“We are very disappointed to learn of the outcome of today’s SPL vote on league reconstruction. Like many involved in Scottish football, Spartans believe that something significant is needed if we are to safeguard and develop the game in this country. As an ambitious club we had, obviously, welcomed the idea of a pyramid structure and the prospect that our national leagues would become inclusive rather than exclusive. We had believed that other clubs felt the same and that this time action would accompany the rhetoric.

However, while this decision was disappointing, like all forward-thinking clubs, we will continue to look for opportunities to progress and strengthen the sport for all and endeavour to work with like-minded clubs to make it more equitable.”

We interviewed Spartans FC Chairman Craig Graham today:

“Staying up in the premier league is not as easy as people think”

Dunfermline face Dundee United tomorrow. Propping up the premiere league, every game counts. Jim Leishman, ex-player and director of football at Dunfermline, talks relegation, Rangers and a rough year.

“With football you’ve got to get results. We’re bottom of the league. A lot of times its not just the manager’s fault. It would be totally unfair to say were bottom of the league because Jim MacIntyre’s not a good manager. Just eight months before, he won the first division championship and it was great. I was part of the celebrations, I saw the delight in the families, I saw the delight of the players.

“Loads of things determine what league position you are. If you’ve got 3 million pounds to spend on players and you’re still at the bottom of the league you can get judged, it’s your fault.

“In Jim MacIntyre’s case he had loads of injuries. He brought players in and some of the top players were getting injured within two games. Now that is just real hard luck. But the public judge on league positions, and results and unfortunately Jim paid the price for that.”

Is there still time for Jim Jefferies to save Dunfermline from relegation?

“When I took over we had three games to go and we were bottom and we managed to stay up. Jim’s got seven chances to keep us up. So we’ve just got to start winning and believing this week.

“Hopefully he’s better than me. That’s the objective; try to give the players a lift, a new voice a new idea. Hopefully it works in a positive way.”

“Would you have liked to be the manager?”

“No, dinnae! I’ve worn that t-shirt, been there, seen it, done it, and you know – no.”

Because the blame’s laid at the manager’s door?

“I get the blame for everything anyway. It doesn’t bother me now! No, it does. It upsets you. No, I’ve been a manager since twenty-nine, I’ve done loads of things. So I’m content with what I’ve done. I’m fine with the director role. Would I like to be in charge of real Madrid?” a dubious pause and Jim starts laughing. “No as big as the pars. I’m with the big team.”

Has Rangers paid off its full debt to Dunfermline?

“We’re due 83 thousand pounds, and we’ve received 40 thousand pounds. The other moneys on its way in April sometime. The (Pars) players have been paid their basic salary. There’s still due some money for bonus and appearance money which were hoping to get that paid as soon as we can.”

Does he think the future of Scottish football is in trouble?

“It’s been a strange year, talking about league reconstruction, going down to ten, going up to sixteen, staying at twelve. I think that started to become a negative, chatting about that all the time. I don’t think that helps.

“When you do your budgets at the start, you estimate how many supporters are gonna come through the gate. For different reasons this year, we haven’t achieved those figures.

Our first game we expected seven or eight thousand people. Then they changed it from the Saturday to the Monday evening. And we get five and a half. Then Hibbs, estimated 6000, but averaged 4100. So that was harsh. We lost that revenue, we had a postponed game, storm damage and them the Rangers thing hit. So these are things that you don’t plan for.”

Was scoring the last winning goal at Ibrox one of your career highlights?

“That was great. That was forty years ago, April 72, thats the last time they won at Ibrox.”

“But it does mean that if Dunfermline win now against Rangers, your record is broken.”

“They better not! No, of course you want them to win, but, I just milk it, I’ve had some good fun with it. Everybody expects me to say that now, but it was a great achievement. I was only young at the time, eh? We won four-three, I scored the first goal it was great,. Loads of things. I was a Dunfermline supporter, and signing for the club was an amazing feature. Promotion as a player. Promotion as a manager. Nowadays, staying up in the premiere league is a major feature. Its not as easy as people think.”

The Weekend in Sports

By: Maxim Lewerenz

Photo taken by George Groutas

Football:

Celtic are still on track on winning their first SPL title in four years and doing so possibly by a record margin. The ten point deduction of archrivals Rangers means Celtic can reclaim the points lost at last weekend’s Old Firm match by beating St. Johnstone on Sunday, with second and third placed Rangers and Motherwell taking each others points.

In the Barclay’s Premier League Manchester City will face Sunderland at home without star striker Sergio Aguero. A win would mean the Citizens would overtake Manchester United by their superior goal difference. At least until Monday, when United will travel to Blackburn.

QPR will host the rejuvenated Arsenal at a London derby on Saturday.

On Sunday traditional sides Newcastle and Liverpool will battle for a place in Europe.

Tennis:

Today at 3pm Andy Murray will face Rafael Nadal at the Semi-Finals of the Miami Open. World number one Novak Djokovic will meet 21th ranked Juan Monaco later on at 7pm for a place in the final on Sunday.

Golf:

At the Shell Houston Open the World’s Number 10 Carl Petersson and  Argentinian Angel Cabrera are  currently tying at the top of the field. Ernie Else, who needs to win the Open to gain a place in the Masters, is one under after two.

Rugby:

Edinburgh Rugby take on Scarlets tonight in the RaboPro Direct league at Murrayfield. They will be hoping to end their losing streak when the match kicks off at 7.35pm. Glasgow Warriors meanwhile have had a fairly successful season and will be aiming to continue their good run of results when they play Cardiff Blues tonight. Kick off is 7.35pm at Firhill.

 

For more on Edinburgh Rugby’s misfortunes and the return of their international players, click here.

Radio: Sport roundup, March 26th

John O'Groats

Mark and Alessandro look back at a weekend of Sports, with an Old Firm match packed with the usual tension and controversy, Fernando Alonso winning the Malaysian GP and the death of darts hero Jocky Wilson.

We also had a look at the strange case of John O’Groats, a Scots town which won’t see the “real” Olympic Torch.

Round up of weekend sports fixtures

After the drama of last weekend’s Six Nations’ climax, the next two days promise a much quieter weekend of sport.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Football

In the SPL, Hibernian take on Dundee United on Saturday, while Perth side St. Johnstone face Hearts. Other matches include Aberdeen v Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dunfermline v St Mirren and Kilmarnock v Motherwell. The kick off for all matches is 3pm.

On Sunday, there is an Old Firm clash as Rangers play Celtic at Ibrox. Kick off is at 1pm.

Rugby

In the RaboDirectPro12 rugby league, Edinburgh take on Welsh side Newport Gwent Dragons tonight at 7.30pm at Murrayfield Stadium. The Scottish team will be hoping to get over their recent run of losses.

Glasgow Warriors also take on Aironi at Firhill at 7.35pm tonight.

Motor sport

On Sunday, the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix takes place in Kuala Lumpur. Scot Paul di Resta will be aiming for another top ten finish after his tenth place at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Tennis

Andy Murray will face Colombian Alejandro Falla later on today in the Miami Masters. For more on this, click here.

Podcast: Fabrice Muamba still in critical condition

Fabrice Muamba remains in a dangerous condition in intensive care though his heart has “stabilized”.

Manager Owen Coyle and chairman Phil Gartside again visited the midfielder, who has not regained consciousness since suffering a cardiac arrest in Bolton’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham.

Rumours have begun to circulate that the Lancashire club may pull out of the competition following Saturday’s emotional events.

Club captain Kevin Davies earlier told BBC Radio Manchester that, “Until we get more information about Fabrice’s condition, I don’t think anything really matters.

“I know they were keen to get the game off tomorrow night [against Aston Villa], which is a no-brainer. From then on, we don’t really know as players. It’s all about Fabrice and his family really. The football side just doesn’t come into our thoughts.”

Tributes have continued to pour in for Muamba, with Gartside echoing the player’s fiancé’s call to keep the player in people’s prayers.

Fellow professionals have also been quick to send their best wishes with team-mate Stuart Holden tweeting, “”Praying for you Fab. Hope he’s OK. Thoughts with him and his family. For all those asking, I know as much as you do. Waiting anxiously for updates from teammates. Fab is a fighter!”

Arsenal captain also tweeted “I’m so sad about what happened to Fabrice Muamba today. Played with him for a couple of years. What a great guy. Always a smile on his face. Please Fabrice bring that smile back. My thoughts are with you and your lovely family!”

Following the emotional events at White Hart lane this weekend, Mark McKinlay brings us up to date with the latest news.

Listen Here:

Also in Sports:

Continued salary delays for Hearts Players

Hearts: Another club faces financial difficulties. Image: Zhi Yong Lee

Hearts players have been told not to expect their salaries on time after funding difficulties emerged today. The team is due to receive their monthly salary today, but it is believed that it is unlikely that the money will arrive.

Hearts players were told by board members that UBIG was still attempting to secure the funds required to pay salaries.

After three substantial delays in monthly payments, the squad officially complained to the Scottish Premier League in December.

January’s wages were only one day late. As a result the league opted not to follow up with a charge of “failing to behave with the utmost good faith to the SPL.”

The Lithuanian bank is owned by majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov.

Neil Lennon mail-bomber accused go on trial

The High Court in Glasgow

The trial of the two men accused of a plot to kill Celtic manager Neil Lennon began at the High Court in Glasgow today.

Neil McKenzie, 42, and Trevor Muirhead, 43, both from Northern Ayrshire, are accused of sending suspected parcel bombs to Mr Lennon, QC Paul McBride and former MSP Trish Godman. They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. They deny all the charges.

The device sent to Mr McBride is alleged to be a plastic bottle filled with petrol and nails attached to a timing device. Cairde Na hEireann, the Irish Nationalist group, also had suspected explosives sent to their premises in Glasgow as well.

The alleged incident marked a climax in tensions during last season’s SPL, with a record seven Old Firm matches resulting in player bans and a high profile clash between Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon. Eventually the Scottish Government called a summit to calm the situation and introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which comes into force on 1st March. The legislation means that anybody behaving in a way that could cause public disorder at or around matches face five years in jail.

The two pronged Act aims to outlaw sectarian behavior and singing at football matches as well as dealing with serious threats, often made on social media, intended to incite religious hatred.

How to avoid cold weather football injuries

Snoods: Warm clothes like these help prevent injuries.


Frost is harsh to football grounds and players in Scotland alike,
with an increase in the amount of sports-related injuries.

When the pitches in Scotland start to freeze you are more likely than ever to pull a muscle or two.

According to Kirsty Smith, owner of Leith Sports Clinic, hobby footballers can take simple steps to prevent injuries during the cold period.

“Do a proper warm up beforehand, a couple laps of pitch, then dynamic stretches, and a cool down followed by static stretches. Muscles that are not warmed up properly are not ready to be stretched, especially in the dynamic, ballistic way muscles are used in football.”

Smith added that when your body is cold, “extra time for a warm up may be needed. Also, frozen pitches can be hazardous for studs sticking, so more ankle injuries are possible.”

What should you do if you have injured yourself?

“Come off pitch. Ice the area. Apply compression bandage if available. Elevate if possible,” said Smith.

These three first aid steps are applicable for any leg or foot injury of any degree.  If the injury is serious, go to the hospital, if not go home.

This week in sport

Edinburgh Napier News Sports podcast for Thursday 24th November

Scotland's route to Brazil 2014 announced. Photo: SFA

Scotland’s World Cup qualifying fixtures announced, a discussion of Celtic’s Gordan Strachan approach, analysis of Hibs’ managerial search and Six Nations TV news.

Listen Here;

Champions League Round-Up

Comprehensive coverage of all big games in this week’s UEFA Champions League.

Listen Here;

Edinburgh Napier News Football Round-Up

The latest football news on Thursday 17th November.

Football round-up!

Listen Here:

Mark McKinlay

Balotelli strikes again

By Edoardo Zandona’

Mario Balotelli when playing for Inter Milan. Credit: Steindy.

Since his arrival at Manchester City for £24 million pounds last summer, Italian striker Mario Balotelli has gained more attention for his off the field antics than for his performances on the pitch.

The Sun reports today about his latest exploit. Apparently, the footballer tried to start a fight with Jenny Thompson, an escort already involved in Wayne Rooney’s scandal, in a restaurant in Manchester after the Man City – Aston Villa game on March 2. According to the tabloid’s reconstruction, Balotelli approached the woman with a “Rooney, Rooney” chant, and taunted her with laughing and vulgar gestures. He then blew a raspberry in the face of one of the commensals, Sam Birch, and invited him to “come outside”.

Birch told the Sun: “He was acting crazy. I think he is unhinged”. Balotelli’s record in Manchester City so far is disappointing. While only scoring 6 goals in 12 appearances with the Sky Blues, he has collected 9 yellow cards and 2 red cards, earning him a ‘bad boy’ reputation.

Football: SPL round-up

by Tony Garner

In the SPL both Old Firm sides won at the weekend to keep the title race bubbling almost as high as the bad blood between them. Goals from Kris Commons helped Celtic beat Hamilton 2-0 on Saturday, while Kyle Bartley was Rangers’ unlikely goal hero as they squeezed past St Mirren 1-0 on Sunday.

Hearts faint hopes of troubling the top two seem to be over after a 2-0 home reverse against Kilmarnock. Silva and Eremenko, who was later sent off, were on target for the visitors.

Shane Sutherland, Richie Foran and Alex MacDonald were the scorers as Caley Thistle had a confidence boosting 3-0 win at home to Motherwell. In the weekend’s only draw St Johnstone and Hibernian ended 1-1 at McDiarmid park, with David Wotherspoon cancelling out Richie Towell’s own goal.

Football Round Up

By Tony Garner

After Wayne’s lunchtime wondergoal you could be forgiven for thinking that no other football took place over the weekend.

But, bicycle related hyperbole aside, it was a fairly standard two days of action both north and south of the border.

In Scotland, Celtic turned over the challenge of Dundee United with a 3-1 win to restore their five point lead over Rangers, who romped to a 6-0 win over hapless Motherwell, whilst there were wins for both Hibernian and Hearts against Kilmarnock and Hamilton respectively. St Mirren and Inverness Caledonian Thistle played out an entertaining 3-3 draw.

In the Premiership, Arsenal kept up the chase on Manchester United with a 2-0 victory against Wolves at the Emirates stadium. With Chelsea not playing until Monday night, Spurs took advantage and moved into fourth place with a win away at Sunderland.  Alex McLeish’s gritty Birmingham nicked a crucial win over Stoke in the final minute of stoppage time.  Apart from that, a series of draws meant it was largely ‘as you were’ in the lower reaches of the league.

All eyes are now on the Champions League matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The big game of the week is Arsenal taking on Barcelona in a rerun of last year’s second round game where the Gunners were cruelly dispatched by a four goal salvo from Lionel Messi.

Levein will give youth a chance against Faroes

By Christopher Hall

Scotland Manager Craig Levein has elected to hand three new players their first call-up in an international friendly against the Faroe Islands next Tuesday.

With an average squad age of 25, youth appears to have taken precedence and no players over 30 year old will appear in the tie at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie stadium.

Dundee United’s David Goodwillie (21), Liverpool’s Danny Wilson (18) and Aston Villa’s Barry Bannan (20) will all be hoping to receive their first full Scotland caps at the friendly match in Aberdeen.

In-form Kilmarnock Goalkeeper Cammy Bell and Blackpool’s Matthew Gilks also return to the squad, the latter helping the Bloomfield road side to a respectable 14th place in the English Premiership.

The National team bosses new caps will be supported by several other established members of squad, such as Gary Caldwell, Steven Naismith and Darren Fletcher who all retain their places, off the back of the recent Euro 2012 qualifying loss to Spain at Hampden Park.

Dundee United's David Goodwillie will be hoping to strike down the Faroes on Tuesday

Levein is certain, however, that the players chosen are not simply for experimental purposes, but can also bring something positive to the squad.

He said: “I think anybody who’s on this list here is somebody who I feel can add something to the Scotland National Team. With some of the guys the might not be that eminent, other than for this match. I want to have a look at and probably get to know some of the guys as well”

He also hoped the younger players would be able to make an impact on and off the field, adding: “We’ve got some younger ones in who have been doing particularly well and I’d be interested in seeing how they do not just in the match but in training as well”

Dave Macdonald of Scottish football forum Pie and Bovril also feels that the new call ups will bring positives to the team and also give the Aberdonian public a good result on Tuesday evening.

“I think it’s a sensible move by Levein to give some of the promising youngsters a chance on the international stage. David Goodwillie has been in brilliant form lately and is full deserving of the call up whilst it will do no harm at all for the likes of Danny Wilson and Matt Gilks to get a taste of international football. I’m looking forward to seeing what the youngsters can do and hope we can win by a few goals to give the Aberdeen public some long overdue cheer”

The Faroe Islands include three British based players in their squad for the friendly. Joan Simun Edmundsson of Newcastle United and Goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen of Manchester City are incuded, whilst Ross County fans will be familiar with defender Atli Gregersen. The defender has made one appearance for the Dingwall side since joining in the summer from Vikingur Gota.

Scotland:

Goalkeepers: Bell (Kilmarnock), Gilks (Blackpool), Gordon (Sunderland).

Defenders: Bardsley (Sunderland), Berra (Wolves), Caldwell (Wigan), Hutton (Tottenham), Whittaker (Rangers), Wilson (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Adam (Blackpool), Bannan (Aston Villa), Burke (Cardiff), Commons (Derby), Dorrans (West Brom), Fletcher (Manchester United), Morrison (West Brom)

Forwards: Goodwillie (Dundee United), Kyle (Hearts), Mackie (Queens Park Rangers), Naismith (Rangers).

Faroe Islands:

Goalkeepers: Nielson (Tranmere), Thomsen (HB)

Defenders: Baldvinsson (Algard), Davidsen (NSI), Frederiksberg (NSI), Gregersen (Ross County), Jacobsen (Vikingur), Naes (B36), Rubeksen (HB)

Midfielders: Elttor (B36), Hansen (HB), Lokin (NSI), Petersen (NSI), Poulsen (HB), Udsen (EB/ST)

Forwards: Edmundsson (Manchester City), Holst (Silkeborg), Mouritsen (B36).


Blackburn poultry takeover still on

By Tony Garner

chicken nuggets have helped make Venky's fortune

An Indian businessmen has given assurances to fans of English Premiership football club Blackburn Rovers that he will put their interests first in his dispute with Venky’s, the Indian poultry conglomerate whose £46m takeover of Blackburn is expected to go through this month.

Saurin Shah claimed that Venky’s had promised him that they would mount the takeover bid as a joint venture, but had broken their word when they decided to go ahead alone.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Niranjan Shah, Saurin Shah’s uncle and the head of his consortium, said: “Blackburn needed proper money and we thought we could achieve that with Venky’s.  We then read in the newspapers that Venky’s has made a deal… We don’t want to fight.  Our concern is Blackburn.”

Blackburn enjoyed a reputation as the richest club in the land in the 1990’s, when local fan and steel baron Jack Walker ploughed his £300m fortune into acquiring the talent that won them their first league title for eighty three years.   But football economics has since mushroomed, and the £7m transfer warchest Venky’s have suggested would be made available in January represents a paltry sum.

It was only three months ago that Blackburn seemed set to be taken over by a different Indian investor, Ahsan Ali Syed, who claimed he would make transfer funds of £100m available.  Syed’s interest ended when a BBC investigation revealed that he had failed to pay rent debts from his flat in the UK.

The Venky’s investors have been eager to convince fans of Blackburn that they are serious about improving the fortunes of the team.  Events at Liverpool and Manchester United have made fans wary of the foreign investor who views a football club as a source of liquid assets, very useful for servicing other debts.

“We believe we have many shared values and ambitions,” said Venky’s chairman, Anuradha J Desai, of his feeling for Blackburn Rovers.

Many of the regulars at the team’s Ewood Park stadium can trace family origins to the subcontinent, though no Indian player has ever taken to the field for a Premiership team.

As one Indian player on the less illustrious arena of Edinburgh’s meadow’s told Napier News, “cricket is still very much the thing.”

 

McGhee on brink as Aberdeen lose in Highlands

Under pressure McGhee

By Leighton Craig and Craig Alexander

Mark McGhee is refusing to resign following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the highland derby.

This comes just three days after a record 9-0 defeat by Celtic at Celtic Park.

Support is dwindling for Mark McGhee with an attendance of just 5,197 at Pittodrie, however McGhee believes he still has a future at the club.

He said: “The feeling I got from the fans tonight is that they want me here, so I’m quite happy about that.”

Aberdeen have struggled under Mcghee gaining a mere 4 points out of a possible 30.

However, it is unclear whether the board will continue to back the former Aberdeen and Celtic striker after issuing an ultimatum following the weekends humiliating result.

When asked if he thought he had the boards backing McGhee said: “So far they have, and that’s brilliant.”

Pressure is mounting with the forthcoming fixture against top of the league Rangers at Ibrox which is sure to be yet another tough test for Aberdeen and McGhee.

McGhee is currently at his 7th club following a successful spell at Motherwell and rejected a potential move to Edinburgh side Heart Of Midlothian two years ago prior to joining Aberdeen.

Hibs fans despair as Caldo’s losing streak continues

Has Caldo bitten off more than he can chew at Easter Rd?

By Gail Pickering

Disappointed Hibs fans are today coming to terms with a crushing derby defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Hearts. The first Edinburgh derby of the season, played at Easter Road yesterday, brought goals in each half from David Templeton and Stephen Elliott.  As a result of the comfortable 0-2 Hearts victory, the Gorgie based side are now placed 4th in the SPL table, whilst Hibs struggle in the  position of second bottom.

Although the Jambo’s performance was not particularly impressive, Hibs never looked threatening and the Heart’s keeper Marian Kello had very little to do during the 90 minutes.  Un-impressed Hibs fans therefore left the stadium in large numbers after the second goal was scored in the 67th minute.

Both sides went into the game on the back of disappointing defeats last weekend.  Jim Jeffries made three changes to the side that lost out to Kilmarnock, playing Templeton, Elliott and Black instead of Calum Elliot, Suso and Barr. Calderwood, however, may regret his decision to stick with the same side that were beaten 1-0 by Dundee United.

The pressure is now on Colin Calderwood as he is still looking for his first victory as Hibs boss.  Since taking over from John Hughes last month his team have endured three straight defeats and fans are not happy. Jimmy Little, who has been supporting the Hibees for 54 years was bitterly disappointed after the defeat stating ‘last week was bad but today we surpassed ourselves.’  Fellow hibs fan Chris Milner adds ‘the team have no fight, we are in trouble.’

During the ill-tempered match, newly appointed Hibs captain Derek Riordan was sent off in the dying minutes following the aggressive foul against Hearts fan’s favorite Rudi Skacel which Calderwood described as ‘pointless’.  Riordan has since appologized to both his team mates and hibs fans, an despite his conduct the Hib’s boss has announced he will remain the team’s captain.

The chaos and frustration of the game was mirrored off the pitch as flares and missiles were thrown onto the park by both sets of supporters, something which the SFA will now investigate.

Hibs fan Mark McElhaney who traveled from Newcastle to attend yesterday’s game, doesn’t blame the hibs boss for his team’s poor performance.  He defends Caldwerwood  stating ‘he has inherited too many foreign players who are rubbish.  He has to now stop farming out our young talented players to other teams, that’s the only way we are going to bounce back’.

Hibs may be set for further misery on Wednesday night when they travel to Ibrox to play current league leaders Rangers.  In a post match interview published on the official club website Calderwood talked about the daunting game ahead and the  importance of ‘taking something from the game’ adding ‘it will give us something to build on’.


Rangers strike unlucky in Spain

By Ryan C. Gavan

Rangers Manager Walter Smith

Walter Smith will be unhappy not to gain a point from the game

Two goals from Roberto Soldado and a third from Tino Costa thwarted Rangers from gaining any points in the Champions League at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium last night.

Soldado capitalised on a failed clearance from Alan McGregor, the Rangers keeper, in the 33rd minute following a corner, squeezing a shot past Sasha Pavac, who was standing at the near post.

His second came after a making a run down the right-wing playing a one-two with Juan Mata. This led to a perfectly weighted finish past the Rangers keeper. McGregor managed to get his finger-tips to it but could not stop it from hitting the back of the net.

Valencia hit home just before the final whistle for the third, with Tino Costa volleying in a cross from Miguel. This marked a final farewell to the visitors from Glasgow.

Rangers were not without their chances. Steven Naismith was denied by the woodwork in both halves. The first after a Kirk Broadfoot pass up the left-wing, which saw the Scotland international hit bending shot that struck the far post. The second was a header that grazed the near upright. The rebound was spilled by the Valencia keeper, Caesar Sanchez, but Rangers could not capitalise.

Valencia dominated play, with Joaquin causing trouble for the visitors all evening. He made pressing runs up both wings that could not be stopped by the Rangers defence. This was highlighted in the 80th minute. A dancing run beat Steven Whittaker but the resulting cut-back was misplaced.

 McGregor played well between the sticks despite the score line. He made a number of saves that required quick hands on his part. Shots by Mata in the 3rd and 11th tested the keeper’s reactions.

Scotland striker Kenny Miller had a quiet night, having only one good opportunity during the game. Defender Miguel was caught out by Naismith who passed the ball on to Miller. This left him one on one with Caesar, but the striker could only shoot weakly into the keeper’s arms.

David Albelda was awarded the only card of the game, after a reckless challenge on Broadfoot.

Rangers will now face the Group C leaders Manchester United on the November 24th.

Touched by the hand of God

Pele or Maradona? A question that will never have a definitive answer. For every ten that say Pele another ten will say Maradona. Even the games governing body, FIFA, could not separate the two, awarding a joint ‘Player of the Century’ award. After two different votes.

The mystique of the debate is only enhanced as both celebrate landmark birthdays within days of one another. On Saturday the 23rd of October Pele celebrated his 70th birthday. Tomorrow, 30th of October, Maradona turns 50.

Only in football can the two greatest players be born in the same week, albeit 20 years apart.

Two footballing Gods

Edson Arantes do Nascimento – remember it for quizzes – or Pele to the world, shot onto the global scene in 1958 as a fresh faced 17-year-old at the World Cup held in Sweden. He scored four goals in two games, including a hat-trick against France in the semi-final, to lead Brazil into the final against the hosts. Another two goals followed as Brazil ran out 5-2 winners. One of his goals was going to stand the test of time as he lobbed a Swedish defender in the box before sending a volley past the goalkeeper.

Pele was born and the World Cup was his stage.

1970 saw Pele join Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gerson and Carlos Alberto in one of Brazil’s greatest World Cup teams. The team won every game of the tournament including the 4-1 demolition of Italy in the final. It was one of the most complete footballing performances with arguably the greatest World Cup goal. And Pele was at the heart of the play. Feeding Carlos Alberto after a sweeping move.

Pele scored four goals to take his World Cup tally to 12 and it was the culmination of his Brazil career. Overall he scored 77 goals in 92 games. A phenomenal record.

However criticism was reserved for his club career. Other than a two year spell at the New York Cosmos he spent all his time at Santos. Never playing for a European club. He won a cluster of team and individual honours in his spell. But one can only wonder what would have happened if he tried his hand at a major European club.

A criticism that can not be laid at Diego Armando Maradona’s door. The Argentine God – in Argentina there is a Church of Maradona –  played for Sevilla, Barcelona and most memorably Napoli.

After a successful six years in his homeland Barcelona spent, a then world record, £5m on Maradona. But it was a difficult two years in Spain as he suffered an infamous leg break. When he moved to Italian side Napoli for £6.9m he only had the Copa Del Rey (Spain’s FA Cup) to show for his endeavours. But it was in Italy where Maradona’s career, both on and off-field, exploded into the public life.

As the goals and trophies flowed controversy followed. Worshipped by the Neapolitan’s, Maradona led the team to their only Serie A wins in 86/87 and 89/90 as well as a Uefa Cup, Coppa Italia and Italian Supercup victories in his seven years at the club.

Any football fan would delight at the wonder of his left foot and the emotion he took onto the pitch. Off the pitch however there were run ins with authorities as a drug problem increased.

It was after Napoli and a spell with Spanish side, Sevilla, that he failed a drug test for the second time. He had already been suspended for 15 months while at Napoli but the one that will stand out is at the 1994 World Cup. Maradona, captaining favourites Argentina, tested positive for banned substance ephedrine. Who can forget the footage of his celebration after a goal against Greece? His eyes literally popping out their sockets. It was no way to end an international career that dominated international football eight years earlier.

He did not make the impression that Pele did in his first World Cup as he ended the 1982 World Cup being sent-off against Brazil as Argentina were knocked out. It was 1986 that Maradona firmly planted his seed as a legend of the game. He captained the Argentine side in Mexico to a 3-2 victory against West Germany in the final. But it was in the quarter-finals against England that he will be remembered for. Controversy and genius rolled into one match. No match sums the stocky Argentine up better.

The ‘Hand of God’. A defensive mix-up sent the ball into the air in the English box. Maradona jumped with Peter Shilton and knocked the ball in with his hand. Controversy. Minutes later Maradona picked the ball up at the half way line and this time drifted past player after player before rounding Shilton and slotting into the empty net. Genius.

In 1990 he led the team again but could not inspire Argentina to a consecutive World Cup triumph. West Germany overcoming them in the final.

Diego Armando Maradona combined controversy with genius all his career. A flawed genius. One which fans love to love. Someone out of the ordinary. But someone with flaws which fans can relate. Maradona has every quality for a superhero.

He managed Argentina to a quarter-final place in the World Cup this year but still showed in training sessions he had a wand of a left foot. A wand of a left foot that has been replicated in another Argentine footballer.

Lionel Messi. The closest thing to Diego Armando Maradona. Minus the controversy.

The final whistle on Scottish Football? An insight into the current furore

By Christopher Hall

For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.

Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.

However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?

Only time will tell.

The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.

To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.

To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:

* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)

* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)

* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)

* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)

* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)

If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link

Man United fans unconvinced by Rooney contract renewal

By Adam Bergin


Man United hero?

Wayne Rooney may have signed a new five-year deal with Manchester United in the last hour, but the head of Edinburgh’s Supporters Club believes the chaos that has surrounded Rooney over the last week has cast a shadow over the player and signifies a new culture in professional football.

Paul Shaw, head of Scottish Reds in Edinburgh, believes that loyalty in football is soon to be extinct: “the older guard of players at Old Trafford, the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are the last of a generation and, to use a phrase used by Alex Ferguson, they are being replaced by ‘big time charlies’ in the game nowadays”

“I don’t for one second buy into the hype you get from modern day footballers, when you see them kissing their badges and the things they say in interviews, it’s all part of a game they play to get the fans on their side.

“Rooney has severely tarnished his reputation losing the faith of the Man United fans, for many of them he was their idol and whether he can regain it is open to debate. I’m not even convinced he’s signed a contract, this could well be a PR stunt and I wouldn’t be surprised if he left in January.”

Rooney, who turns 25 this weekend, had shaken the football world last Sunday when rumours surfaced that he wished to quit Manchester United. He confirmed the reports to be true on Wednesday, citing a lack of ambition from his employers as his motivation.

More than six years since signing from Everton for 26million, Rooney has flourished under the wing of Reds manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Trending topics in popular United fans’ forum Red Cafe this morning included ‘Is this entire Rooney saga an inside job?’ and ‘Being a legend vs being a ****’ before news of Rooney’s new contract broke at around 12.30 this afternoon.

Mr. Shaw says the events of this week were inevitable with the increasing impact of money on the game: “It’s indicative of the way football’s gone in the last ten years, there’s been an increase in player power at an amazing rate.

“Clubs had too much of a stranglehold on the players in the 80s but the pendulum’s completely swung the other way.”

Blackpool Manager Ian Holloway opened up to the world’s media yesterday, slamming UEFA and FIFA for allowing players to have so much power in today’s market. The Tangerines boss gave a frank account of his opinions regarding the Bosman Ruling, which allows players over 24 to leave their club for no fee at the end of their contract, claiming the current system is ‘so wrong that it is frightening’.

Paul Shaw echoes the views of Mr. Holloway, claiming that a club can lose out after dedicating many years to the development of a player.

“A club can take a player to a certain level and they hold you to ransom and this will undoubtedly happen again in the near future, it’ll be a different club and a different player but possibly a different outcome.”

Financial balls, but just what is administration?

By Christopher Hall

Dundee are in it, Liverpool just might be going into it and a number of other football clubs are cautiously striving to avoid it. But just what are the key factors of the phenomenon which is flaunted cautiously in board rooms of football clubs around the United Kingdom?

Administration.

The key points of this are not as complicated as one may think. The main reason for a club going into administration might be viewed by many fans as an utterly dark portion of a club’s existence, with chances of survival bleak. Many clubs, however, have been in and out of administration just as quickly throughout the years and to understand the fundamentals of the process would shed light on a truly fascinating phenomenon of modern football.

In simple terms it should be seen as a misdirection of the clubs finances. The common admission of problems, similiar to that of Dundee who recently published a bill of £365,000, is pressure from the tax man. The club then were revealed to have overall debts of around 2 million pounds and the administration proceedings were uncovered.

The next stage of the journey involves the appointment of the “administrator” who will oversee the club’s finances rather than the men in grey suits within the board room. They will look into minimising the club’s losses as well as striving to find a buyer (similiar to the Hicks/Gillett saga currently ongoing at Liverpool FC).

As Dundee football club Chairman Harry Maclean recently uncovered to the BBC, the administrators run and assess everything at the club, short of picking the team on a Saturday:

“Speculating on the amount of figures and players that would be leaving is a bit pointless at this time because there’s only one person that’ll know that and that’s the administrator.”

The administrator may also not be as sympathetic in terms of personal issues which arise, such as the unfortunate and real threat of redundancies. The authorities will do all they can to accrue as much of the lost finances as possible. Gordon Chisholm recently feel victim to this process, being removed from his post as part of the administration proceedings at Dundee FC:

Their’s boys getting laid off in their with mortgages, its a horrendous time. I’ve never been through been through anything like that in my life and I hope never to see it again

Finally, If the club is then deemed by administrators to be incapable of saviour, and finances spiral into irreparable levels, then the threat of liquidation (commonly known as a “winding up” order) becomes a very real possibility. The ins and outs of this process can be read in detail at the UK statute law website.

The threat of administration truly is a worrying time for any club. Only time will tell what fate has in store for clubs such as Dundee, Liverpool and Portsmouth. Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin and realisation of crisis would materialise when clubs of substantial stature fall victim to the perils of a debt ridden management system.

Until then, clubs struggle on as football pulls itself out of the financial culmination of the last decade and beyond.

National News In Brief

By Nicola Dick

Labour leader Ed Miliband is deciding who will be key figures in his shadow cabinet after 19 MPs were elected. There will be no announcements until this afternoon. The full list will be out by the end of today.

Police warn of a rise in young football hooligans. Police figures show that there are now 209 youngsters banned from football grounds across the UK.

Video footage of Tommy Sheridan has been shown to a perjury trial. He allegedly states to making a “mistake” to 19 people.

As of 1 November, a ban on ME patients on donating blood in the UK will be in place. This is in order to protect the health of people with ME to make sure their condition is not made worse by donating blood.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 372 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers