Media Mondays – The Rangers Story

By Alexander Neal, Lauren Elliott  and Lisa Mitchell.

BBJbqtzCcAEOLdpListen to Alex Thomson (Channel 4 News) and Mark Daly (BBC Scotland) discuss the origins of the problems Rangers faced and how the situation at present with regard to the saga. A detailed and extended talk from the pair, who provided witty insight and analysis of the events that led to the current scenario, as well as answering questions pitched by audience members.

This chronological account provides a good reference point for anyone interested in the story, and how it was covered in various forms of media. The pair discuss how they covered the story, on top of talking about how other agencies covered it and why.

This was a popular talk, with both men exploring in depth the issues surrounding possibly the biggest sports story to come from Scotland.

Listen Here:


Rangers receive £25m bid from US Company

Copyright Christopher Harress

Glasgow Rangers have more than 140 years of history, but the past few months may have been the most tumultuous, with the SPL title-defenders staring into the abyss of administration and the imminent uncertainty over possible takeovers.

A £25m bid from a Chicago-based company, if accepted, could see Rangers go into liquidation – an option fans do not support.

Club 9 Sports would want to form a new club, to avoid paying the club’s debts. Such action would lead Rangers to have at three-year ban from all European competitions. In the even more drastic scenario, liquidation could force Rangers back to the start, requiring them to apply to join the Division Three.

The only offer seeing Rangers go into administration came from former Ibrox director Paul Murray. Letting Rangers pay off their debts through the Company Voluntarily Arrangements (CVA).

The American bid is more than double Brian Kennedy’s offer, which was rejected yesterday. The American firm is now the frontrunner for taking over the club.

 

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.

Rangers agree to pay cuts

Listen Here:


Four Rangers, including Captain Steven Davies have accepted 75% paycuts to prevent needless redundancy. But should the players clean up the administrators’ mess? Here’s what the fan thinks…

Gers agree wage cuts

It’s believed that at least four Rangers players have taken a 75% pay cut.

Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith are two of the players who have already struck deals.

There has been speculation that the two took the cuts in order to alleviate major redundancies at the club.

‘Old Firm need to forget the past for the sake of the future’

by Ryan C. Gavan

Being an impartial observer, spending time covering the Old Firm clash at Hampden Park yesterday was an experience in the very least. It was the first time the teams have met since the much publicised game two weeks ago, all eyes were watching. I went wondering whether the fans had taken any notice of the warnings or the Summit on the Old Firm.

Union Jacks and Tricolors are abundant at Old Firm matches. Photo: R Gavan

I was greeted by a very heavy police presence. It looked to me like a the preparation for a riot. Mixing with fans on both sides, I noticed that the sectarian attitude is engrained to Old Firm meetings. Tri-colours on one side, Union Jacks on the other, it goes beyond religion to politics, using that term very loosely. One Rangers fan had a scarf with the words “William of Orange” while a Celtic fan wore a top with “Bobby Sands MP” embroidered in orange and green. Speaking to both sets of fans, they blame the other for the trouble. The real issue here is the culture, the so-called “90-minute bigot.” They go to the game, sing their sectarian songs and go home, not thinking about it until the next meeting. The issue for politicians, police and the Old Firm itself, is how to change years of hatred. Many wonder whether this is even possible.

[Read more...]

Red Card for Old Firm behaviour

by Patrick McPartlin

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, venue for Tuesday's summit

 

 

The ripples from last Wednesday’s explosive Scottish Cup replay between Celtic and Rangers continue to spread, with former First Minister Henry McLeish requesting both teams to “put their house in order” on the eve of a summit at Holyrood. Representatives of both clubs, the Scottish football authorities and the police will be present at the summit. [Read more...]

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.

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.

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

Rangers win Scottish League Cup

Rangers beat St Mirren 1-0 on Sunday to win the Scottish League Cup despite being two men short.

Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson had been sent off in the second half for the last 20 minutes at Hampden Park.

Kenny Miller headed the late winner in the 84th minute for Rangers’ 26th triump in Scottish football’s third-tier competition.

“We were very fortunate to win today. In the first half, we were as poor as we have been all season. I thought we got better when we went down to nine men,” Rangers captain David Weir said.

Diving row hits Scotland

By Phil Turnbull

The Scotland versus Wales friendly match tomorrow is threatening to be overshadowed by the continuing row over diving.

In a week where Liverpool striker David N’Gog dived to win a penalty in a Premier League game against Birmingham, the diving row has now reached the international scene.

While Scotland hitman Kevin Kyle conceded he personally would take a dive in attempt to influence the outcome of a game, national team-mate James McFadden yesterday hit back, saying: “No way, I couldn’t dive”.

faddy

James McFadden (picture credit: skysports.com)

Birmingham striker McFadden said: “You try to play as fair as you can. You can foul for tactical reasons but I don’t think you can get away with a tactical dive.”

“I would not deliberately do that and try to con a penalty or to get a benefit because in the end you look stupid.”

Earlier in the week Kilmarnock striker Kyle admitted he would dive in a match if it helped Scotland to win.

Asked if he would take a tumble in the box, Kyle said: “I probably would because you go out on a Saturday afternoon just wanting your team to win at any cost and you take every opportunity that’s available to you.”

Kyle’s views are at odds not just with McFadden, but also SFA Chief Executive Gordon Smith.

Smith has been at war with FIFA over players diving ever since Arsenal star Eduardo dived to win a penalty against Celtic in the Champions League Qualifiers, eliminating the Glasgow side in the process.

It is not known how SFA bosses will react to the conflicting points of view from their star strikers.

Meanwhile Scotland captain Darren Fletcher has been passed fit for the clash in Cardiff.

fletch

Darren Fletcher (picture credit: independent.co.uk)

The Manchester United playmaker had missed training on Wednesday, but has now been given a clean bill of health by the Scotland medical staff.

The decision will come as a relief to manager George Burley, who is already without Old Firm quartet Steven Whittaker, Kevin Thompson, Scott Brown and Shaun Maloney.

Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon also misses out due to a broken arm.

Scotland’s last friendly match, against Japan in Yokohama, was dogged by call offs that entered into double figures.

While the Scots have no such problems this time round, Wales have been hit by a raft of withdrawals.

Eight players, including £14 million Manchester City star Craig Bellamy, have pulled out of the Welsh squad, forcing manager John Toshack to select Swansea City centre-half Ashley Williams as his new captain.

Williams will be Toshack’s 11th skipper used in his five-year tenure as national team manager.

Wales versus Scotland kicks off at 3pm tomorrow at the Cardiff City Stadium, and is live on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30pm.

Rangers suffer another home defeat

(courtesy of BBC Sport website)

(courtesy of BBC Sport website)

By Ross Doyle

Urinea Urziceni beat Rangers 4-1 last night almost ending their hopes of qualification for the second round of the Champion’s League after a stunning 90 minutes which included 3 own-goals.

The home crowd expressed their frustrations at the end of the game, with loud cheering and various objects thown onto the pitch, while many of the supporters had exited the stadium long before the final whistle.

The Romanian side arrived at Ibrox yesterday expecting a difficult evening with the away side yet to record a win in European competition in their history so far. But it was the Scottish Champions who will have now been left to pick up the pieces as their qualification hopes look to be in serious jeapardy.

The game started brightly for the home side as Pedro Mendes’ deflected drive looped high into the top corner of the net in the second minute.

But 4 goals, including three in 16 minutes in the second half, from the Romanian Champions inflicted a second consecutive 4-1 reversal for Rangers after they suffered the same against Seville in the previous match.

Rangers manager Walter Smith blamed poor defending in the post-match interview, “we lost three goals we should not be losing”. he also commented on the decline of the performance after taking an early lead, “after a good start, we did not impose ourselves on the game.”

Dan Petrescu, manager of Urinea, was pleased with the result, “I don’t think it was easy for us” he also reacted to comments on the change of fortunes after half-time, “My players did well in the second half after we scored the second goal but we did not play well in the first half.”

Rangers will now likely have to compete for third place in the group although fellow Group G strugglers Stuttgart also suffered a home defeat last night to group leaders Sevilla. Their next fixture will be away in Romania with the opportunity to regain some pride and re-ignite their faltering European campaign with 3 points crucial to any involvement in European competition after Christmas.

Derby rivals clash over Rangers football vision

By Myles Edwards

Hearts and Hibs bosses have clashed over Walter Smith’s claim that Scottish football is dying a slow death.

The Rangers manager said on Friday that it would harm Scottish football if the Old Firm were to remain in the Scottish Premier League.

He said: “I think if we don’t leave the SPL, Scottish football is in danger of dying.  We are already seeing a downturn financially, with our top players moving out of the SPL.”

Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager feels that Rangers and Celtic are looking to ‘run away’ from the problems of Scottish football.

Laszlo is adamant that he would like the Old Firm to stay in the SPL and help make the league “more attractive for sponsors and supporters”.

He said: “We must not have problems, but solutions. We must search deeper.  I think at the moment we must make the league bigger, not smaller and weaker.

The Jam Tarts boss went on to say how he feels all 12 SPL clubs must pull together to improve Scottish football and look at it in a positive light.

“The problem in Scottish football is deeper.  I know we can come out, but to run away from the problems is maybe not the best solution.

“We must make Scottish football more attractive for sponsors, supporters and for the National team to play more successful football in the big competitions like Poland/Ukraine (2012) and also to bring more big name players back to the Scottish league.”

Hibernian manager, John Hughes appears more understanding of the Old Firm’s wishes to move south of the border, stating that he “understands why they [Rangers and Celtic] would want to go to pastures new”.

He said today: “Football is becoming global.  The revenue that they can make elsewhere would be tenfold to what it is in Scotland.

“Does Scottish football need the Old Firm? Yes – I think we do.  I think they are our showcase two teams; they carry the banner for Scottish football.

“If they did move, I think everybody else in Scotland would say, ‘We fancy our chances to win this league’.”

By Myles Edwards

Where now for Celtic?

By Stewart Primrose

Tuesday’s defeat to Arsenal raises many questions for Celtic manager Tony Mowbray, whose honeymoon period looks over.

The media can dress it up as much as they like. Celtic were not unlucky, but while avoided a mauling, were comprehensively beaten by a side better in every department.

Saturday’s win at Aberdeen was impressive. Make no doubts about it, but they were playing a side that are disjointed and have conceded 11 goals in 3 games under new manager Mark McGhee.

Yet, predictably, we heard cries of ‘scintillating football’ and of being the ‘Arsenal of Scotland’. Mowbray does not get to control what the media say, but he would be better to avoid making ridiculous comments, like comparing his style of football to Barcelona’s.

Celtic, like Rangers, do not have the players, money or resources to compete at the highest level. Their ‘star’ names included Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady. Neither is good enough to get on Arsenal’s bench, let alone making the starting 11.

On the build up to this latest ‘Battle of Britain’ encounter, we were subjected to the absurd stories linking Brown away from Parkhead to Spurs for £12 million. For somebody who cannot pass, shoot, tackle cleanly or has a decent first touch, you have to wonder why some media hacks continue to write such nonsensical material. He is a decent player, but his true value would not even go anywhere near half of the quoted price.

McGeady is probably the most talented player for the Hoops. He is skillful and does posses some natural ability, but has not really made great inroads to progress as a footballer. He does not score enough goals, something that he even admits. His crossing is mediocre at best and his attitude to learn is limited. The best thing he could do is to start looking up whilst running with the ball instead of tilting his head downwards.

Despite their flaws, both McGeady and Brown will remain pivotal to domestic success. Mowbray will rely on them heavily throughout the season, more so than his new signings, who look to be a mixed bag.

Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.

Has been 'unfortunate' so far for Celtic.

Marc-Antoine Fortune looks way of the pace and he is best summed up by a Journalist, who claimed he is someone ‘who doesn’t look like he wants to score goals’. That is a damming statement for a striker, who cost just shy of £4 million. Landry N’Guemo looks to be the best capture so far despite only being on loan. He is neat and tidy on the ball and seems able to read the game, but the true test for the African will come when the weather turns sour and games become a real battle. Danny Fox disproves Gordon Strachan’s theory that you cannot buy a player for a modest sum (£2 million) who is better than Lee Naylor. He looks good going forward and has a fine delivery. His defensive qualities do look suspect though, and this is something that could be exploited when playing against quality wide men.

Mowbray has just started his Celtic career and while defeat to Arsenal is certainly no disgrace, it does give him, the supporters, and some quarters of the media a reality check that was needed. It will be a long, tough season for them, as they look to wrestle the title back from Ibrox and secure automatic Champions League qualification.

Shamed football stars are no role models

by Andrew Moir

A Lack of respect in football

A Lack of respect in football

As Rangers FC stars Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor are suspended from their clubs and banned by their countriy there are fears that this may influence young players.

The footballers were dropped to the bench for Scotland’s World Cup Qualifier against Iceland after embarking on an all night drinking session following Scotland’s defeat to the Netherlands in Amsterdam. The players did not heed this warning and instead made obscene gestures to the cameras they knew were watching them. This was deemed unacceptable by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and by Rangers FC. Not only will the duo never play for their country again but they are likely to be sold at a much reduced price when the summer transfer window opens. But are do these players have an influence on aspiring youngsters?

Iain Edmonstone has been a coach of school football teams for more than 20 years. He does not think that this behaviour filters down to aspiring players. “I’m sure none of the young players are impressed by these antics. They certainly don’t see these guys at role models. I certainly don’t see the diving and the cheating at that level.”

While he doesn’t see this replicated in his own players he thinks that the unacceptable behaviour is picked up inside the clubs. “It’s an institutional problem. There’s a lack of respect for management and for the SFA. If you want to look at an example from another sport then, what about Lewis Hamilton? He’s probably been with McLaren since he was 13. There’s an arrogance amongst certain individuals who think they can get away with anything.”

Former Celtic, Ross County and Partick Thistle player Henry Creaney thinks this lack of respect occurs because young footballers are isolated from the rest of society. “It all comes down to money. These kids will go into an academy at a young age and have no idea how other people live. Guys between 18 and 20 have crazy money thrown at them. People don’t love the game in the same way any more. They are looking for money and that includes the parents.”

However Creaney believes that that respect works both ways. “When I played the referees would talk to you. They knew your name and they would interpret the rules using common sense. Now they all go by the letter of the law”

These incidents are not isolated. In August 2008 The English Football Association launched the Respect Campaign. This programme is to be in affect across all levels of football from the glamour of the Premier League right down to local leagues. The campaign launched many new ideas including a code of conduct for players and a new etiquette for talking to referees. According to the FA an average of 7,000 referees quit football every year. Respect aims to change this.

As both players and referees look for different kinds of recognition, mutual respect could be a distant prospect.

Celts Triumph in Old Firm Cup final

By Stewart Primrose
Celtic Celebrate Old Firm win photo courtesy of BBC

Celtic Celebrate Old Firm win photo courtesy of BBC

Celtic defeated Rangers 2-0 yesterday to win the Co-operative Insurance Cup, after an extra time victory.

Goals from defender Darren O’Dea in the 91st minute and an Aiden McGeady penalty in the dying minutes of the game gave the Bhoys their first major trophy of the season.

Much like the last Old Firm derby, the match started tentatively. Both sides seemed to cancel each other out early on, partly thanks to both managers deploying identical 4-1-4-1 formations.

Celtic’s best chances in the first half came with Scott Brown, who had several efforts go just over the bar, while Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty forced a good save from Celtic goalkeeper, Artur Boruc.

The second period began much as the first had ended. Glen Loovens had a header cleared off the line by Pedro Mendes and substitute Nacho Novo looked lively, creating a few opportunities for Rangers.

The game then stretched as both sides went looking for a winner in 90 minutes, but to no avail.

But it was Celtic, and an unlikely hero in O’Dea, who finally broke the deadlock a minute into extra time. A free kick from Shunsuke Nakamura was met well by the Irishman, who headed high past Rangers Goalkeeper, Allan McGregor.

Darren O'Dea   photo courtesy of Daily Mail

Darren O'Dea photo courtesy of Daily Mail

The Hoops gained confidence from their goal and should have added more soon afterwards, with Scott McDonald and Georgios Samaras both guilty of weak efforts in front of the Rangers goal.

The Gers failed to go on the offensive after conceding and seemed to tire and run out of ideas. Then, with moments to go, McGeady raced clear on the counter-attack, only to be brought down by Kirk Broadfoot in the penalty area.

The Rangers defender was sent off and McGeady coolly stepped up to take the penalty and send his supporters and team mates into raptures with virtually the last kick of the game.

Birmingham Boyd bid hits snag

By Paul McCormack

Kris Boyd celebrating another goal

Boyd celebrating another goal

Glasgow Rangers fans have been left in the dark today after contract talks to sell their star striker to Birmingham City stalled late last night.

18-goal Kris Boyd was given permission to speak to the championship promotion contenders after a bid thought to be in the region of £3.5m was accepted by Sir David Murray’s side. [Read more...]

Weekend Sports Preview

With a busy weekend of sport ahead, Ross Hart takes a look at the upcoming action.

Football:

Weather permitting, there is a full card of league fixtures this weekend and a Scottish Cup tie this evening.

Tonight, Inverurie Locos and Vale of Leithen will attempt for the fouth time to play their third round Scottish Cup tie after adverse weather conditions resulted in three postponements. The winners will be rewarded with a home tie against SPL side Motherwell in the fourth round.

In the Scottish Premier League this weekend, Rangers travel to in form Dundee United in the early kick off on Saturday. United have only lost once in their last 14 league and cup games and sit third in the table, while Rangers will look to put more pressure on leaders Celtic after defeating Hamilton 7-1 last weekend.

Celtic meanwhile are looking to recover from last weekend’s loss to Hibernian by defeating the other half of Edinburgh at Celtic Park. Last night’s Champions League victory over Villarreal provided a confidence boost but Hearts have won five successive matches to maintain their push for European football next season.

Hibernian will look to build on their victory over the leaders last week by defeating struggling Hamilton at Easter Road. The visitors sit bottom of the table after recording only one win in their last 12 league matches but are boosted by striker Richard Offiong signing a contract extension.

In the other SPL games, Aberdeen will look to maintain their position within the top six at home to Falkirk, while St Mirren will climb above Inverness with victory at Love Street. Motherwell host Kilmarnock on Monday evening in a game to be broadcast live on Setanta Sports.

In the First Division, Dunfermline Athletic, who sit second in the table, look to keep up their push for promotion as they travel to play Queen of the South in Dumfries while Livingston will be looking to earn a first victory for new boss Paul Hegarty as they travel north to take on Ross County.

Rugby:

The Edinburgh Gunners are again in action this weekend as they travel south to play London Wasps in a Heineken Cup pool two clash. The sides met at Murrayfield last weekend with the Gunners falling to a 25-16 defeat so Andy Robinson will be hoping his team can gain revenge on former Scotland coach Ian McGeechan’s team on Sunday afternoon.

Scotland’s other European representatives Glasgow Warriors take on Bath at Firhill on Sunday and will also be looking to avenge defeat by their English counterparts. Sean Lineen’s team narrowly lost out last weekend by 35 points to 31 at the Recreation Ground.

Snooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan is looking to defend his Maplin UK Championship title as this year’s tournament gets underway on Saturday in Telford. Current World Champion O’Sullivan kicks off the defence of the UK Championship against Rory McLeod on the opening day of the tournament.

There is plenty of Scottish representation, with five players flying the saltire. Five time UK Champion Stephen Hendry takes on England’s Stephen Lee while the ‘Wishaw Wizard’ and current Grand Prix champion John Higgins faces world number 20 Joe Swail.

Former World Champion Graeme Dott faces Ireland’s Ken Doherty while the clash between world number two Stephen MaGuire and Jamie Burnett, ranked 43 places below, guarantees a Scottish name in the second round.

Arbroath to wait for Hearts’ money

By Ross Hart

Hearts have come to an agreement with Arbroath to postpone payment of money owed to the Second Division side over the Andy Webster transfer deal for a month.

The debt of around £15,000 is Arbroath’s cut of the deal that took Webster from Hearts to Wigan in 2006. Arbroath inserted a sell on clause into the deal which took the player to Edinburgh in 2001.

Arbroath secretary Garry Callon said: “We are due £14,437 plus VAT with the interest on top and we have been told that will be paid on January 9.”

Webster was with Hearts for five years before invoking a loophole in governing body FIFA’s contract law. This clause allowed the player to leave for a club outside Scotland if his current employers were given adequate notice.

He then signed for Wigan but his time at the JJB Stadium was hit by injury and he signed for Rangers a year later on loan before making a permanent move to the Glasgow club.

The delay in the payment comes amid fears of a cash crisis at Hearts. Earlier this month, players received their wages four days late and win bonuses were also due to them.

It is rumoured that the Jambos’ owner Vladimir Romanov is preparing to sell on some of the club’s top earners, such as captain Christophe Berra, in January to ease the cash-flow problems the club face.

Weekend Sport Preview

Graeme Macleod previews this weekend’s sports action.

Rugby:

Heineken Cup Pool Two

Edinburgh Gunners vs. London Wasps

The Gunners welcome Guiness Premiership champions Wasps to Murrayfield for this Heineken Cup clash on Friday. Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson is set to make one change to the team that defeated Ospreys last week. That means full-back Chris Paterson is set to make his 50th european appearance for the hosts as they look to repeat their 2005 win over Wasps.

The visitors are two-time winners of the competition with their last success coming as recently as 2007. This will be Wasps first match since a boardroom reshuffle – which saw World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio appointed a director of the club – earlier this week.

Football:

Scottish Premier League

Falkirk are looking to bounce back from conceding a late equaliser against Hibernian last week when they host St Mirren.

Inverness CT welcome Dundee United to the Caledonian Stadium while Kilmarnock host Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Motherwell were dumped 2-0 at Pittodrie last week and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host in-form Hearts at Fir Park. The Jambos picked up a superb three points last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Rangers at Tynecastle. That means Csaba Laszlo’s side have won five games in a row, lifting them up to third spot in the SPL table.

Rangers take on Hamilton to Ibrox looking to bounce back from that defeat. Walter Smith is likely to have Kenny Miller, Sasa Papac and Steven Davis back in the squad.

In Sunday’s match, Hibernian entertain Celtic at Easter Road. Mixu Paatelainen’s men salvaged a draw at Falkirk last week thanks to sub Colin Nish’s late strike and the towering forward is likely to be vying for a start when the champions visit. Celtic on the other hand are looking to rack up their 13th consecutive league win before Wednesday’s Champions League match agains Villarreal.

Scottish Cup

In the re-arranged third round fixtures, Edinburgh City host Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium while Spartans travel north to play Elgin City. Forfar Athletic take on Stranraer and the all non-league matches see Forres Mechanics face Dalbeattie Star and Inverurie Locos host Vale of Leithen, with the winners in that match set to be take on Premier League Motherwell at home in the next round. Junior outfit Lochee United host Second Division Ayr United with the winners meeting Kilmarnock in Round Four.

Boxing:

Amir Khan vs. Oisin Fagan

Bolton fighter Khan returns to the ring for the first time since his 54-second knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott. The Olympic silver medalist is looking to rebuild his career following that defeat, the first of his professional career. The 21-year-old boast a record of 18-0-1 and will have to win this one to keep his hopes of a world title fight alive.

Opponent Fagan turned professional in 2003. The Irishman goes into this fight in London with a record that reads 22-0-5. The ‘Gael Force’ last fought in March against Paul Spadafora when he lost in a split decision after 10 rounds.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao

After Khan vs. Fagan, attention turns to Las Vegas where Oscar De La Hoya takes on Manny Pacquiao. This fight sees two of the best pound-for-pound fighters going head-to-head with the winner likely to be rewarded with a multi-million pound match with Ricky Hatton next year.

De La Hoya’s record reads 40-0-4 and his last appearance in the ring was a win over Steve Forbes in May. Pacquiao comes into the fight with a record of 47 wins, two draws and three losses. This clash with the ‘Golden Boy’ presents probably the biggest challenge of the Filipino’s career.

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

Join 371 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 371 other followers