HEARTS experience ‘second most important day in their history’; Robertson and Tudur-Jones boost for Hibs as Heffernan ruled out; Kayal’s Celtic vow plus Hoops set for Mauritius friendly against Liverpool
Ann Budge on verge of completing Hearts takeover
IT specialist Ann Budge is on the verge of completing her £2.5 million takeover of Hearts after shareholders of Ukio Bankas, the club’s largest creditor, approved the sale of their shares to the Bidco company.
Described as the ‘second most important day’ in the Tynecastle club’s history, the Jambos have taken a huge step away from the prospect of liquidation, and although there are still ‘creases to iron out’ according to Foundation of Hearts chairman Ian Murray, yesterday’s news from Lithuania came as both time and money were running out.
The formal exit from administration may be delayed until June due to complexities and paperwork needing completed, but Murray believes Hearts are on stage ‘four-and-a-half’ out of five. (The Scotsman)
Carrick: This is better than beating Hibs
JAMBOS striker Dale Carrick admitted that the club’s latest step towards survival was better than beating Hibs.
The young striker - who scored against Hearts’ city rivals barely three weeks ago - told STV: “I would say the news today was more than beating Hibs.
“I was really happy for the result we got today. I actually heard it on Twitter and it was great to hear we’re moving forward.”
And Carrick, who earlier this month stated his desire to remain at Hearts, added: “It’s a big positive off the field and it would be great to carry it on until the end of the season and finish on a high.” (STV Sport)
Hibs need to avoid play-offs ‘for sanity’ - McNamara
FORMER Hibs player and assistant boss Jackie McNamara Sr has urged his old club to avoid the Scottish Premiership play-offs - for their own sanity.
McNamara Sr was relegated with Hibs in 1980, and experienced a play-off for top flight survival with Hibs as Jim Duffy’s assistant in 1997, when the Easter Road side beat Airdrie 5-2 - although they were relegated 12 months later.
“It’s hard to describe just how emotional those games – and the build-up to them – were,” he recalled.
“It was as bad as it gets, easily my worst experience in football. The pressure on everybody concerned – but especially the team from the top division – is immense,” he added.
The father of Dundee United manager Jackie Jr fears for Hibs as they face two crucial matches against St Mirren and Hearts. The Scottish Premiership’s lowest scorers have won just one of their last 14 matches, losing nine, and will see the Buddies move on to the same points if the match at St Mirren Park this weekend ends with a home win.
McNamara Sr added: “The problem is that Hibs are on a bad run and it’s hard to stop that kind of negative momentum because the players will, understandably, be lacking in confidence.”
“At last week’s home defeat by Aberdeen, after Niall McGinn put them ahead then you could see how the young boys, in particular, were affected.”
But McNamara Sr is backing Terry Butcher to lift Hibs, adding that a team-building exercise may be the way to bring the players together. (The Scotsman)
Hibs boosted by player returns but Heffernan out for season
HIBERNIAN have been dealt a blow in their fight to avoid the Scottish Premiership play-off places with the news that striker Paul Heffernan won’t kick a ball again this season.
The former Kilmarnock hitman injured himself in the pre-match warm-up before the club’s 2-0 defeat at home to Aberdeen earlier this month, and it was revealed yesterday that the 32-year-old will miss the end of the season.
Heffernan’s injury means Hibs will look to James Collins, Danny Handling, Danny Haynes nad Jason Cummings for goals.
However, Hibs were handed a boost with the news that midfield duo Owain Tudur-Jones and Scott Robertson are nearing full fitness. Welshman Tudur-Jones has been involved with the Under-20 side in recent weeks while Robertson has returned to full training - but it is not yet clear if he will make Saturday’s crunch match with St Mirren.
Club captain James McPake is also close to a return to training. (Herald/STV Sport)
Beram Kayal targeting first-team return
CELTIC midfielder Beram Kayal is aiming to play in Celtic’s remaining five matches, as he targets a return to full fitness.
The 26-year-old Israeli has missed a large part of Celtic’s season with injury, but has been doing extra work with the club’s fitness coaches.
“We work hard in training all the time, but I need games to get my fitness up again,” Kayal told Sky Sports. “We have five games left and hopefully I can play all of them.
“I want to be at a high level and help the fans because I miss playing football, and after every injury I am hungrier to come back and work hard”. (Sky Sports)
Hoops set for Liverpool friendly in Mauritius
MEANWHILE, Celtic could be set to take on English Premier League side Liverpool in a glamour friendly on the island of Mauritius.
The Hoops have agreed to travel to the tropical destination in the Indian Ocean for the match, scheduled for Sunday May 18th, according to organisers.
The Anfield side have already confirmed a seven-day tour if sponsors can secure a deal, with the club’s commercial bosses visiting the island for talks.
Celtic have provisionally agreed to play Brendan Rogers’ men at the Stade Anjalay in Belle Vue Maurel, which holds 30,000.
Mauritian firm Health and Sport are organising the tie, and spokesman Jawid Tharanee said: “Given the friendly relations between Liverpool and Celtic, the Scottish club have agreed to come. They made contact with us and agreed without much convincing. “We had requests from German and Italian clubs to play too, but we are happy with Celtic.” (Various)
Nicky Law looking forward to a rest
RANGERS midfielder Nicky Law has admitted he is looking forward to the end of the season - so he can have a rest.
The ex-Motherwell midfielder has been nominated for the Cheque Centre PFA League One Player of the Year award, and has hardly missed a game for the Gers this season.
And he admitted: “It’s tough constantly being told you’re s*** for six months!
“I’ve missed about two games this season so I could do with a break physically and I’m looking forward to getting away from it mentally.
“Nobody would want to go to work and be told how s*** you are so the thought of six weeks off is nice.” (Daily Record)
Gunning could extend Tannadice stay
HIGHLY-rated Dundee United stopper Gavin Gunning could be set to extend his contract at Tannadice despite reported interest from Rangers.
Dublin-born Gunning has also been linked with Italian side Palermo, but the 23-year-old - who is out of contract in the summer - refused to be drawn on whether he would stay or go, targeting victory in the Scottish Cup final against St Johnstone.
He said: “I want to win a final now and hopefully it is not going to be my last game for Dundee United.
“Hopefully, I will be here next season. If it is to be my last then it’s a great one to end on.” (Irish Herald)
News in brief
• Dundee are working to strike up an informal partnership with English Premier League side Everton which could see the Toffees’ youth players sent up on loan to Scotland
• Former Hamilton striker Marco Paixao could be set for a shock call-up to partner Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal’s World Cup squad for Brazil. Uncapped Paixao is the second highest Portuguese scorer in Europe after Ronaldo
• Livingston have announced crippling losses of £365,000 and chairman Gordon McDougall has admitted the club is facing a constant battle to survive