In today’s Rumour Mill: Georgios Samaras speaks out against Celtic critics; the latest news from the Rangers takeover bid; Kyle Lafferty could leave Rangers in cut-price deal to England; plus the rest of today’s football news and gossip
Celtic’s inexhorable march to the title neared its end yesterday with a hard-fought 2 - 0 victory over St Johnstone that puts them a point away from wrestling the league title from Rangers. Celtic striker Georgios Samaras, whose goal in the second half put Celtic on the road to victory, was in bullish mood as he dismissed criticism from various talking heads, including former Celtic players.
Samaras said: “I don’t care what ex-players say, I really don’t care what the world thinks about us. All I care about is my team and my team-mates.
“If people are talking about us it doesn’t bother me. Myself, the manager and the players all know what we can do. In my opinion we have character.” (The Sun)
Meanwhile, Aston Villa captain and former Celtic midfielder Stiliyan Petrov has told teammates that he would overcome his illness. Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia on Friday, and has already started receiving treatment. (The Daily Express)
Elsewhere, Rangers’ win over Motherwell over the weekend is largely overshadowed by ongoing saga surrounding the takeover bid being facilitated by administrators Duff & Phelps. The Daily Mail reports that Paul Murray, the public face of the Blue Knights consortium, has distanced himself from talk of liquidating the club should they take over at Rangers. Accusing other bidders of planning to do just that, Murray said: “It seems the other groups are pushing to put the club into liquidation. That is not what I want to do. They have their own reasons for wanting that - but it’s not part of my plan.”
The Mail alse reports comments made by former Rangers chief executive Martin Bain, who has laid the blame for the Employment Benefit Trust (EBT) scandal at Sir David Murray’s door. Bain claims that he was only acting upon advice given to him by David Murray’s company, Murray Group. It is alleged that Bain had asked for a pay rise via his EBT, which runs contrary to the club’s position that EBTs were only used for ‘discretionary’ payments.
Meanwhile, former Sheffield Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford has warned Rangers not to take American bidders Club 9 Sports at face value. While at the helm at Wednesday, Strafford had sought investment from the group in 2010 but walked away after he found that the Club 9 Sports had overpromised and underdelivered. (The Daily Record)
According to The Sun, Brian Kennedy appears to be back in the frame as a bidder for Rangers. Despite saying he would walk away from further involvement after his bid was rejected, Kennedy is understood to be monitoring the situation after becoming increasingly concerned at developments that could see the winning bidder begin to liquidate the club.
The Sun also reports that Kyle Lafferty may be set to leave Rangers for as little as £500,000, potentially departing for £1m less than his pre-administration market value. The Sun adds that a number of English clubs have shown interest.
Finally, Dundee United’s Gary Mackay-Steven has laughed off comparisons to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after impressing fans. Mackay-Steven said: “Obviously it’s nice to hear the fans saying that, but it has given the lads in the dressing room plenty of ammunition.
“They give me a lot of stick. They’ve been calling me Lionel every day.
“And some of them are even saying that in the Nou Camp they will be changing ‘GMS’ soon.”