Rumour Mill: SPFL slam Champions League plan | Celtic ‘frustration’ at £11.7m profit | McKay to sign new deal at Ibrox

Champions League games like the Celtic v Barcelona game at Parkhead in 2013, could soon be a thing of the past in Scotland.  Picture: Robert Perry

Champions League games like the Celtic v Barcelona game at Parkhead in 2013, could soon be a thing of the past in Scotland. Picture: Robert Perry

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Neil Doncaster slams ‘sinister’ plot to kick Scots out of the Champions League; Celtic ‘frustration’ at £11.7m pre-tax profit ; Barrie Mackay on the verge of signing contract extension at Ibrox and more in Saturday’s Rumour Mill

Neil Doncaster slams ‘sinister’ plot to kick Scots out of the Champions League

The Scottish league has warned of a “sinister” plot within European football to restrict access to the Champions League for clubs from smaller nations.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster fears the top five leagues – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France – could further strengthen their grip on the competition.

Doncaster told Radio 5 Live: “What we’re seeing, quite worryingly, is that there are moves within the movers and shakers of European football to try and reshape the Champions League, potentially remove the champions’ route and make it not just harder, perhaps impossible, for the champion clubs of smaller nations to participate in the Champions League.

“I think this is a very sinister development. The likes of Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Ajax, Porto – these are huge brand names, huge clubs with great histories and great global fan bases. And there’s the possibility that some may try and limit or remove their access to the Champions League.”

Meanwhile, Peter Lawwell flew to Geneva on Thursday to carry the fight for Scotland’s place in the Champions League to Europe’s elite clubs.

The Celtic chief executive is determined to battle the plans by Bayern Munich president 
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that would end the “champions route” into the competition.

Rummenigge wants a new super league of 20 teams from the five biggest footballing nations – Spain, Italy, Germany, England and France – with little prospect of sides outwith that group gatecrashing the tournament. (Various)

Celtic ‘frustration’ at £11.7m pre-tax profit

Any endorsement of Ronny Deila’s stewardship was notable by its absence yesterday as Celtic announced half-yearly results that showed an £11.7 million pre-tax profit.

In his statement accompanying figures that were boosted by the £13m sale of Virgil van Dijk to Southampton in August, club chairman Ian Bankier sought to convey a sense of angst over events in the six-month trading period from July.

Bankier opened his address by stating that “On the park, it has been a frustrating season”, and returned to the theme over European performance, which he said had been “the cause of considerable frustration... we were unable to progress beyond the group stages of the Europa League, having not qualified for the group stages of the Champions League”.

Revenue, which was up by 0.3 per cent to £31.4m, will dip across the second half of the season, with fewer home games and none in Europe. After posting a near £4m loss last year, the money already banked should allow Celtic to produce a break-even figure for the 2015-16 season. (Scotsman)

Celtic set to land new shirt sponsor

Celtic are close to signing a new shirt sponsorship deal with Dafabet when their deal with Magners runs out this year, according to a report by the Daily Record.

Currently betting partners with the Parkhead club, the company are ready to secure a huge deal to sponsor the Scottish Champions on the park.

John Cruces, Head of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship at Dafabet, said: “No matter where you go around the world, you always see a Celtic shirt such is their worldwide support.” (Daily Record)

Barrie Mackay on the verge of signing contract extension at Ibrox

Agreement on a new contract for the Barrie Mackay is, according to his manager Mark Warburton, “almost there”. McKay has become a key figure in the Championship side and the Rangers manager says “absolutely” McKay can be a Scotland international. Not slow to bring him inside from a wide area, Warburton says his adaptability is down to his attributes.

“He is the quickest player at the club. He is technically comfortable with both feet. He can drive inside and outside, can play seven, eight, ten or 11 and he has great ability.

“The fact he can play left, right or central – fantastic. If it’s the old-fashioned positions we had when I grew up he’d be an inside left. That position doesn’t exist any more, I guess. But that’s where I see him 
playing.

“He is in a good place and I think there is loads more to come from Barrie McKay.” (Scotsman)

Nir Bitton: Celtic victim of EPL’s transfer market

Nir Bitton signed a five-year contract extension with the Parkhead side back in November but there has been persistent speculation linking him with a move away from the club however the player insists he is happy at Celtic and he says the club is being run in the right way and credits manager Ronny Deila for the teams progress.

The midfielder said: “It’s the way football works today. The big clubs can spend crazy money in England, all the way down to League One. Right now, the money down there is a joke. So you need to be smart and this is the best way for Celtic, because you cannot compete with that kind of money.

“This is the way Celtic do it and it’s not my job to say anything about it. I am happy here and we just need to make sure we build something together now.” (Scotsman)

Ronny Deila won’t rush Patrick Roberts

Celtic boss Ronny Deila is not expecting to use Patrick Roberts a lot this season.

The Manchester City youngster joined the Bhoys on an 18-month loan deal and the teenager scored one and set up three in his first appearance for the Under-20s team.

But Deila believes the player needs time to adapt before he can play in the senior team.

“This is 18 months and he needs time to adapt to how we train and play,” said Deila. “He also had some injuries before he arrived, so he still needs to get better fitness-wise.

“We’ve spoken with him a lot and he has skills, which means he can do something at this level.” (Manchester Evening News)

News in brief:

• Dundee United gaffer Mixu Paatelainen will again carry out fitness checks before naming his team for the Premiership clash at Hamilton Accies today after a dose of the flu hit his squad. (Various)

• Louis Van Gaal says that should Manchester United sack him, it would be the ‘ultimate betrayal’ (Mirror)

• Wenger claims pressure is all on Leicester as they go into a top of the table clash on Sunday. (Mirror)

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