Rumour Mill: Celtic | Charles Green | Hibs

Celtic defeated Hibernian yesterday but still face a title-party wait. Picture: SNS
Celtic defeated Hibernian yesterday but still face a title-party wait. Picture: SNS
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NEIL Lennon begs SFA for Parkhead title party and Charles Green defends ‘worst Rangers team’ comments amid claims his finance man Imran Ahmed texted Craig Whyte asking for money and Pat Fenlon warns his lacklustre squad that no one is assured a cup semi starting berth.

Let us have title party at our place, begs Neil Lennon

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has pleaded with the Scottish FA to hand Celtic a home tie in their first post-split fixture - so that his team can have a chance of clinching the title in front of a home crowd for the first time since 2006.

Celtic eased past Hibs 3-0 yesterday, needing St Mirren to produce something of an upset against second-placed Motherwell in order to hand them the title. But the Fir Park side scored a late but deserved equaliser, putting the Parkhead champagne on ice for at least a fortnight.

Lennon said: “It’s no huge disappointment not to win it this weekend, although it’s always good to win it at home.

“We’ll see what the fixtures bring, but it would be nice to do it at home in front of a full house and give the fans something to enjoy.” (various)

Charles Green: I stand by ‘worst team’ comments

Rangers chief Charles Green has defended his comments about the current Rangers team being the ‘worst ever’, stating that he doesn’t say things to make people happy or sad - he says them because they are factually correct.

Green believes he upset the Rangers playing staff and management with his comments, but added: “I saw pundits on TV saying ‘The Chief Exec shouldn’t say that’. Why shouldn’t you say it? Is it true? If it’s true, say it.

“If I felt that I could forecast so well, I’d start buying lottery tickets because the next day’s result against Annan PROVED it.”

Meanwhile, Craig Whyte has claimed he has text messages proving that Charles Green’s financier Imran Ahmad asked the former owner for a payment to help fund Green’s takeover of the Ibrox club.

In a bizarre twist, Ahmad reportedly asked Whyte to transfer £137,500 into his mother’s bank account, in order to keep Green’s dealings with the Scottish tycoon secret.

According to The Sun, a Rangers spokesman confirmed that Ahmad paid the fee to gain control of the club himself, well before any money from Whyte ever appeared.

The spokesman added that the money was transferred into Ahmad’s mother’s account because no one involved in the takeover wanted Whyte’s money anywhere near the business account.

It was also confirmed that Whyte’s payment came at a time when the Ibrox club could have been saved from liquidation by a CVA agreement - meaning Green would have required Whyte’s shares to buy the club. (The Sun)

Pat Fenlon warns Hibs squad over semi-final places

Seething Pat Fenlon last night warned his lacklustre team that no one will walk into the squad for next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final clash with First Division Falkirk.

“I don’t think too many came off the park today who’d have a moan if they’re not in the team next week,” Fenlon said.

“We probably only had three or four get pass marks. So it’s a big week for peopl in training now if they want to play in a semi-final. They’re going to have to work tremendously hard to prove that to me because I didn’t see it today and I’m disappointed.”

The former Bohemian boss slammed his team for a weak performance after they went a goal behind early on at Parkhead, adding: “We didn’t show enough commitment, or have a belief to give ourselves a chance of getting in the top six and that’s more disappointing than anything.

“There was acceptance rather than a desire to give ourselves some sort of a fighting chance.”

Paul Hanlon returned from injury and Jorge Claros was included as Fenlon reshuffled his pack, but it wasn’t enough as a brace from Kris Commons and a controversial goal from Mikael Lustig handed the home side an easy win.

Although results elsewhere meant that, had Hibs secured a somewhat unlikely win over Celtic, they still would have missed out on a top 6 spot, Fenlon sent an ominous warning to his team, saying:

“It gives me a lot to think about for next week because that wasn’t good enough. We know this is a hard place to come but you have to have more passion not to lose goals and games as easily as we did.” (Scotland on Sunday)

‘I’ve 90% agreed to sign for Rangers’, says Honduran international Arnold Peralta

Honduran midfielder Arnold Peralta believes he has ‘90% agreed to sign for Rangers’ after it was revealed that Ibrox boss Ally McCoist was tracking the international.

The 23-year-old, currently with Club Deportiva Vida in his homeland, is available on a free transfer this summer, and has claimed “Every player from Honduras dreams of playing in Europe. I am going to play for Rangers which is a massive club.

“I’m very happy playing for Club Deportivo Vida because my family and friends are from La Ceiba and I’m not going to hide that I feel very comfortable living in Honduras.

“Yet this is a very good opportunity for me to improve as a player.

“If the final detail of the negotiations are agreed, I MUST take this opportunity.” (The Sun)

St Mirren set to vote against 12-12-18 proposals

League reconstruction hit another snag last night as it transpired that St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour looks set to vote against the proposed 12-12-18 set-up.

With Ross County having already suggested that they will vote against the motion, the plans would almost certainly fail due to the 11-1 majority needed in the SPL.

If SPL clubs d not vote the package through, the current 12-10-10-10 model will continue next season. Both the Staggies and St Mirren are reportedly in favour of certain components in the package for change, but opposition to the under-21 players rule in matchday squads, and retaining the current voting structure are proving to be sticking points. (Scotland on Sunday)

Craig Brown admits he’ll miss management

Outgoing Aberdeen boss Craig Brown last night admitted that, despite not being too emotional following his final game at the Pittodrie helm, he would miss being in the dugout. Following his side’s late, late defeat to Dundee United, which secured the Tannadice club the final place in the top six.

“I haven’t been too emotional, but this time next week, I’ll be saying ‘I wish we had a chance to redeem ourselves,’ said Brown after the game.

“I’m very fortunate. I’ve lived the dream of every football fan, being able to work with Aberdeen and having a long time in the game. I’m very grateful for that.

“But the over-riding feeling is disappointment for the terrific support we had. I’ve sent three or four thousand folk up the road without the victory they all wanted.

The 72-year-old is retiring from the management circuit to allow former St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes to take the reins at Pittodrie, and added: “I’m quite sure I’ll miss it. The best players on show were the Aberdeen support. They were absolutely fantastic throughout the match.” (Scotland on Sunday)

John Hughes defends former team-mate Paolo Di Canio

Former Celtic defender John Hughes has given his backing to one-time team-mate and friend Paolo Di Canio, amidst the furore surrounding his appointment as Sunderland boss. The former Celtic and West Ham striker has been the centre of controversy over his political beliefs, but the Hartlepool boss believes the Italian is big enough to ignore it and become an instant hit at the Stadium of Light.

“As a team-mate he was brilliant, he was passionate and volatile but there was a real sense of camaraderie and solidarity when he was on your side,” recalled Hughes.

“He was very opinionated on how we should play the game, so it is no surprise he has now gone into coaching and I think he is a good appointment.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Paolo make a success of it and trust me, he will.”

The former Falkirk, Hibs and Livingston boss also revealed he would be seeking to take advantage of Sunderland’s highly-rated academy as he looks to avoid the drop - Hartlepool are languishing at the foot of League One with just three games remaining. (Scotland on Sunday)