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Rumour Mill: Rangers | Celtic | Ledley | Samaras

Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley. Picture: SNS

Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley. Picture: SNS

Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace gives The Scotsman an exclusive, wide-ranging interview; Joe Ledley could be key to Celtic’s bid for Robert Snodgrass; scam fears over irregular betting in Scottish football matches, plus all the rest of today’s football news and gossip

Rangers: Support ‘unanimous’, says Graham Wallace

RANGERS chief executive Graham Wallace believes that his cost-cutting drive has “unanimous support” within Ibrox, and has vowed to continue his review of “each and every individual in the organisation”.

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with The Scotsman, Wallace said he had also been encouraged by the working relationship he has struck up with manager Ally McCoist.

Wallace was appointed CEO on 20 November last year and within a month he told Rangers’ agm that he would be conducting a 120-day root and branch review of the club and its finances. “I’ve been very encouraged by the discussions we’ve had and the response to my initial assessment as to what needs to be done,” he said. “I’d say I’ve had unanimous support.

“There was a bit of a backlash last week to the concept of a reduction in player wage costs. That’s an example of the area of the business we’re looking at right now. We’re looking at the executive team as well as the wider staff. What I seek is the supporters giving me the time to complete the review.” (Scotsman)

Ally McCoist defends players’ plush Carnoustie trip

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has hit back at criticism of his side’s stay at a four-star resort ahead of their 2-0 win against Forfar yesterday.

The Ibrox side stayed at the Carnoustie Hotel as they prepared to face Forfar at Station Park on Monday, despite players recently rejecting cost-cutting proposals aimed at reducing their wages by 15 per cent.

But McCoist was adamant that he would continue to do his best for the squad, saying: “I can understand people questioning it but it’s my job as the Rangers manager to give our players the best opportunity we can to perform. We are still Rangers Football Club and have always attempted to be as professional as we can. That will never change as long as I’m manager.” (Daily Record)

Joe Ledley key to Celtic’s Robert Snodgrass deal

Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley could hold the key to the club’s attempt to snare Robert Snodgrass from Norwich.

Ledley’s future has been in doubt amid ongoing talks about extending the Welsh international’s contract.

Should Ledley decide to stay - the ideal scenario for Celtic - then it would mean Snodgrass would no longer be a priority for Neil Lennon. However, the uncertainty over Ledley’s future means that the Norwich winger remains Lennon’s top transfer target.

Meanwhile, Celtic have not given hope of keeping Georgios Samaras, who yesterday met Celtic chiefs for talks over his future, which were described as “positive”.

Lennon will hope to farm out Dylan McGeouch and Mo Bangura on loan deals, and would consider doing the same for Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde. (The Sun)

Fraud concerns over two Scottish league games

Two Scottish League Two games have come under scrunity following concerns over irregular betting activity surrounding the two games. William Hill suspended markets on East Stirling’s 1-1 draw with Albion Rovers on Saturday before the match after suspicious betting patterns were uncovered. Betting chiefs were also concerned over a dramatic shift in odds ahead of a game between Queen’s Park and Clyde on January 4, which Queen’s Park won 2-1. Clyde’s odds to win the game had doubled shortly before kick-off. There is no suggestion that any of the clubs were involved in match-fixing.

A new anti-fraud initiative was launched by the SFA last week to tackle corruption in Scottish football. Ayr United’s Michael Moffat and Rangers midfielder Ian Black have both been punished for breaching SFA betting rules in recent months. (Daily Record)

Billy Brown to be in Hearts dugout for semi-final

SENIOR management at Hearts have accepted that Billy Brown will take his place in the dugout for the League Cup semi-final on 2 February, despite the fact that his contract runs out two days earlier.

Brown, assistant manager to Gary Locke, was reinstated on Sunday by club administrator Bryan Jackson after previously being told that Saturday’s match against St Johnstone would be his last with the club.

“There is no issue at all about Billy being in the dugout for the semi-final,” a source close to the club said yesterday.

“John and David want the best for the club. Yes, they have been critical of Billy, as has Bryan, but there is no way they would try to prevent him from sitting in the dugout.

“In fact it was John and David who went to Bryan after he said Billy was staying till the end of the month.” (Scotsman)

Hibs: Butcher aims to secure new players this week

HIBERNIAN manager Terry Butcher insists he will accelerate his plans to recruit new players after conceding that injured defensive pair Paul Hanlon and Ryan McGivern are facing weeks on the sidelines.

Butcher has been stripped of options due to injury at the back ahead of Sunday’s televised visit of Celtic.

Butcher said: “We’ll be short this week because of one or two injuries, there is no doubt about that and maybe we’re going to have to work even harder to get one or two in. We’ve made progression on that front but we’ll certainly try and conclude that this week if we can.

“With our numbers being down, it’s imperative we now do get one or two in so that’s what we’ll try and do.” (Scotsman)

IN BRIEF

• Former Hibernian and Celtic striker Derek Riordan may be set for a move to Belgium with Royal Antwerp. Jimmy Floyd Hasseilbank’s side are looking to enlist the striker, a free agent who has complained of being ignored by clubs in recent months, to help their promotion push.

SPFL ON YOUTUBE

GOALS

• Kallum Higginbotham will be developing a reputation as an overhead kick specialist after his wonderful goal for Partick Thistle against Kilmarnock . Whilst at Motherwell the Englishman scored an exquisite goal for Motherwell last season which drew parallels with Wayne Rooney’s famous goal against Manchester City.

• Arguably the in-form team of 2014 so far has been Ross County. A handful of signings in the transfer window have seen the Staggies claim 10 points from a possible 12 in January. Many argue that the catalyst has been the loan signing of Filip Kiss from Cardiff City. The Slovakian has scored four goals in two appearances, none better than this delightful curling effort from 30 yards against Dundee United on Saturday. County won the match 3-0.

• Another Premier League signing who has been attracting attention is Newcastle United’s Adam Campbell. Campbell has scored twice for St MIrren since joining the Buddies on loan, including this strike in their 3-2 win over Hibernian at Easter Road.

• Inverness’ secured a fantastic victory against Aberdeen with this terrific goal from Danny Williams . His strike crashes off the crossbar and past Jamie Langfield to end the Dons’ four-game winning streak.

• Kris Commons’ fine form continued for Celtic as they recorded their tenth consecutive victory in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday. The Hoops’ 3-0 win over Motherwell at Celtic Park maintained their unbeaten run in the league, and was also their ninth consecutive clean sheet. The last player to score against Celtic in the Premiership was Niall McGinn for Aberdeen in November.

Kris Commons’ fires a penalty for the Hoops for his 14th goal of the season:

TALKING POINTS

FIGHT - The game of the week came from Perth, as St Johnstone were held to a 3-3 draw against Hearts. The Saints were 3-1 thanks to a Stevie May hat-trick with five minutes to go, but Hearts scored twice in the dying minutes in an incredible comeback. The match had 6 goals, 3 red cards and 2 penalties, as well as bust-up at the end .

OWN GOAL - It wasn’t a great return to Celtic Park for Stephen McManus. The former Celtic captain scored this spectacular own-goal against his former club.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

@AberdeenFC 0-1 @ICTFC

Danny Williams scored his first ever goal for Inverness CT as John Hughes’ side won for the first time in six matches by stunning high-flying Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the SPFL Scottish Premiership. The defeat ended a run of four straight wins for Derek McInnes’ Dons.

@CelticFC 3-0 @MotherwellFC

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table to 13 points as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Motherwell at Celtic Park. Kris Commons scored twice and Stephen McManus scored an own goal but Anthony Stokes saw red late on for a late challenge on Keith Lasley.

@HibernianFCClub 2-3 @saintmirrenfc

St Mirren scored three times in the opening 26 minutes as they held on to beat Hibernian 3-2 at Easter Road in the SPFL Scottish Premiership. An own goal from Ben Williams and further strikes from Adam Campbell and Steven Thompson had the Buddies in dreamland and it proved to be enough despite a second-half double from James Collins.

@ThistleTweet 1-1 @OfficialKillie

Robbie Muirhead scored a dramatic injury time equaliser for Kilmarnock, after Kris Boyd had seen his penalty saved, as they held Partick Thistle to a 1-1 draw at Firhill Stadium in the SPFL Scottish Premiership. Kallum Higginbotham’s stunning overhead kick had given Thistle the lead but Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was sent off and Killie levelled it at the death.

@TheStaggies 3-0 @dundeeunitedfc

Filip Kiss scored a double for the second time in two appearances for Ross County while Yoann Arquin also scored on his debut as the Staggies beat Dundee United 3-0 at the Global Energy Stadium in the SPFL Scottish Premiership. United have now gone six games without a win but County have won three of their last four.

@St_Johnstone_FC 3-3 @JamTarts

All hell broke loose at McDiarmid Park as Hearts launched a sensational injury time comeback in a match that saw 6 goals, 3 red cards, 2 penalties, multiple penalty claims, a hat-trick for Stevie May, a mass brawl, the woodwork struck, two players scoring their first ever goals and a defender playing the closing stages as a goalkeeper. Stevie May scored a hat-trick -- two from the penalty spot -- for Saints while Sam Nicholson and Dale Carrick both scored their first Hearts goals before Danny Wilson’s last gasp leveller.

 

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