Tag Archives: SPL

“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:

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.

SPL rebels aim for ‘Arab Spring’

Pressure has continued to mount on the Old Firm to accept new voting rules in the Scottish Premier League.

Yesterday Kilmarnock Chairman, Michael Johnston, compared the struggle of the 10 “rebel” clubs to that of the Arab Spring, “Hopefully we can be as successful as some of the pro-democracy movements elsewhere.”

The 10 clubs, which include Heart’s and Hibs, aim to end the 11-1 majority required for significant league changes and end the Glasgow duopoly on power. However Celtic chairman, Peter Lawell, has criticised their motives and claimed they are acting disrespectfully by excluding the Old Firm.

However Johnston rejects these claims saying, “Principally, this is about a measure of democracy that’s been lacking in the SPL in its decision-making processes.

“So this is the pro-democracy movement. It’s not a gang of 10 or anything subversive. It’s all up front and it’s perfectly open what we’ve been talking about, so there’s nothing hidden or disrespectful about it.”

It is believed the non-Old Firm clubs view a change in the voting system as the first step towards a fairer distribution of TV revenue and possible league expansion.

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.

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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.

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.

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

Scottish football petition to appear before Holyrood

By Neal Wallace

A petition urging changes in Scottish football will go before the Scottish Government next week.

The petition is put forward by Iain Jack, who set up Help Change Scottish Football, and requests two fundamental changes; to merge the Scottish Football Association (SFA), Scottish Premier League (SPL) and Scottish Football League (SFL) into one representative governing body, and to investigate the SFA’s use of public funding.

Jack believes the SFA does not take enough responsibility for the problems facing Scottish football, saying that the task “beyond the scope of a lot of the clubs”.

Empty stadia can be seen across Scotland. Photo by Stuart Chalmers

With many fans affected by the recession, clubs have seen a sharp decline in attendances. Hibernian‘s average attendance has dropped from nearly 15,000 four years ago to 11,000 this season. Celtic recorded an 11,000 drop in their average last term. Sky Sports’ David Tanner believes the game needs modernising, and should look Stateside for inspiration: “If you look at American sports you can get all kinds of franchised food. None of these things are available at Scottish football. That has to be modernised or the game will die. I think the attendance levels dropping reflect that.”

In a statement, the SFA said this was an issue for the SPL and SFL and made no further comment.

Mike Riley, Chairman of the Hibs Supporters’ Club, believes the introduction of a winter break would encourage more fans to come to the game: “I think Scottish football’s seriously got to look at that. That would bring it into longer situations where we’re having good weather. Making it better for the young kids as well.”

Jack believes the SFA have not done enough, stating that: “The reality is that there aren’t any real sort of plans. That’s why the SFA have to lead it.”

A change in the system has to be decided at club level through a mandate, but without the backing of all three governing bodies it cannot be completed. A single governing body, Jack believes, would make changes easier to implement: “When two large companies merge to form a larger corporate entity, each company will be different in it’s business systems and it’s technical areas. The decision to merge is often a simple one. Scottish football has to undergo a similar process but has to see beyond the detail which hampers decision making by confusing the issue.”

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. Continue reading Birmingham Boyd bid hits snag

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.

Safety first for Strachan’s men

By Brian McLaughlin

Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has introduced non-contact training in a bid to curb the club’s current injury crisis.

With 11 players currently out injured, Strachan is keen to ensure that no more key players are sidelined ahead of Celtic’s crucial Champions League clash with Danish champions Aalborg on November 25th. Failure to beat the Danes would send the SPL champions crashing out of the tournament.

Strachan said: “I cannot remember ever having an injury list like this during my managerial career, it’s not as if they are similar injuries, so it is very strange. There are different types of problems, so there’s not an aspect of our training we can look back on and pinpoint as leading to something.

“At this moment in time, we cannot have any practice games on the training pitch. We cannot do any contact stuff, I don’t have enough players at my disposal for it. I simply cannot afford to do it in case someone else gets hurt.”

Despite this move, the worst of the injury crisis that has hit Parkhead in recent weeks appears to be over, with Dutch defender Glenn Loovens back in training, along with Greek striker Georgios Samaras, with Loovens likely to feature in tonight’s match against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park.

The speedy recovery of set-piece master Shunsuke Nakamura has also given the Bhoys a boost, with the Japanese international returning to training just a week after injuring his knee in a training ground collision with first-team coach Neil Lennon.

On this, Strachan said: “The doctor cannot believe it after the scan results on his knee. Naka says he wants to play, which is a good sign, but we’ll have to see how he is. It’s the same for Loovens and Samaras. I would think Loovens would be the first one back.”

Former Cardiff man Loovens is close to return for Celts
Former Cardiff man Loovens is close to return for Celts