ALLY McCoist says he would have bet money on Ibrox not being given Scottish League Cup final spot; John Hartson fears Neil Lennon will leave Scotland over fan abuse; Barry Ferguson reveals prank call attempt just days into managerial debut, plus all the rest of today’s football news and gossip
Ally McCoist riled by Ibrox League Cup ‘snub’
RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has questioned the authority of Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster in the decision to stage next month’s League Cup final at Celtic Park.
The SPFL announced on Wednesday that Celtic Park had been chosen ahead of Ibrox Stadium for the 16 March showdown between Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
McCoist said: “Call me an old cynic but I didn’t fancy our chances of getting the League Cup final,” said McCoist. “I did say to our chief executive Graham Wallace that, if we were allowed to bet, to get a few quid on the final not being at Ibrox. Neil Doncastler, or indeed whoever is running the SPFL, made the decision. That’s something they’ll have to live with.” (Scotsman)
Hartson fears Neil Lennon may leave Celtic over abuse
JOHN Hartson has revealed his concern that Celtic manager Neil Lennon will walk away from Scottish football because of the abuse he receives.
Swansea City’s managerial vacancy is the latest with which Lennon’s name has been associated.
When asked yesterday if he felt it was only a matter of time before his former team-mate moves south of the border,
Hartson said he feared the way Lennon was targeted by Aberdeen fans at Tynecastle can only have pushed him closer to leaving.
Hartson said: “With this latest incident at Tynecastle you would wonder how much more Neil can take. He’s had threats to his life, he’s had bombs through his letterbox, he’s been physically beaten up on a public street and abused at games, as we saw last weekend.“I know he’s strong-willed and he’s a strong character because I sat next to Neil in that Celtic dressing room for five years. But you just wonder.
Ally McCoist has high hopes of a Rangers treble
Rangers manager Ally McCoist has backed his side to achieve the treble this season as they enter the last few months of the season.
Winning League One, which they currently lead by a massive 23 points, has long been a formality for Rangers. They are also odds-on favourites to lift the Ramsdens Cup on 6 April when they face Raith Rovers at Easter Road in the final.
They face Dunfermline at Ibrox tonight in the Scottish Cup fifth round, hoping to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time since McCoist took charge.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we can’t win the Scottish Cup or that we won’t win it,” he said. “Of course I’m not. We want to win it and we’ll be doing everything we can to win it.
“I think we would need a bit of luck to win all three competitions we are involved in. You’d have to say we have a very good chance of winning League One and we have a really good chance of winning the Ramsdens Cup, because we’re in the final. So the Scottish Cup is the one which isn’t just as clear cut.” (Scotsman)
‘Here you ya weapon, do you think I’m daft?’ Ferguson reveals prank call attempt
Barry Ferguson has revealed he was on the receiving end of a prank caller who tried to lure him into a trap during his first few days of management. Ferguson, who took over from Paul Ince as Blackpool boss, likened the incident to Francisco Sandaza’s encounter with a caller posing as an agent. The Spaniard was sacked as a result of the incident.
“Whoever this mystery man was I knew as soon as he began to speak it was someone at the wind-up. He introduced himself as an agent with an odd Scottish name and started saying both of us could do some business.
“I believe his aim was to start a conversation about doing dodgy deals together but before he had even spat it all out I spoke to him in exactly the kind of language I knew he’d understand.
“‘Here you, ya weapon, do you think I’m daft?’
“And as I said it I pressed the loudspeaker button so the rest of my staff and some of the players who were around at the time could listen in. All they could hear was this nutter on the other end of the phone losing the plot and screaming ‘Aye! I do! I do think you’re daft!’” (The Sun)
Jim Jefferies sees appeal of Old Firm cup final
JIM Jefferies believes “everyone would love to see” an Old Firm Scottish Cup final this season, with even the Dunfermline boss intrigued by the prospect of Rangers and Celtic meeting in the May showpiece.
However, that fact has done nothing to dampen his determination to produce a shock at Ibrox tonight and ensure a second consecutive season without the Glasgow giants crossing swords.
“Whether this current Rangers team could take on the might of Celtic? That’s probably what everyone would love to see,” said the 63-year-old. “The fixture has undoubtedly been a big miss for the game up here. It would create a massive amount of attention and interest, it would fire up a lot of people, particularly on the Rangers side after spending a period out-with the top divisions.
“There would be a lot of pressure on Celtic to beat them, too, and I think most people would be very interested to see how that would pan out.” (Scotsman)
Fergus McCann to be honoured by Celtic
Celtic have announced plans to honour former owner Fergus McCann as the club marks the 20th anniversary of the Canada-based businessman’s Parkhead takeover.
Celtic were on the brink of a financial meltdown when McCann rescued the club back in 1994. Within five years he had sold-up, leaving them with a redeveloped 60,000-seater home and a league championship crown to prevent arch rivals Rangers winning ten-in-a-row.
However, he proved to be a divisive figure amongst the Celtic support with his cautionary spending at a time when the Ibrox side were splashing millions on players.
Now, the club’s chief executive Peter Lawwell has announced McCann will be welcomed back to Celtic Park for the first home league match of next season as the club’s guest of honour. Lawwell said: “2014 is a very special year for Celtic as it marks the 20th anniversary of Fergus’s takeover of Celtic and it is absolutely right that the special contribution he made to Celtic is marked in this way.
“Fergus’s intervention in 1994 delivered the current Celtic Park, at the time the largest club stadium in Britain and, ultimately, he re-established Celtic as a footballing force by winning the Scottish Premier League in season 1997/98. He enabled supporters to take a stake in the club they loved, to be part of something and once again have pride in their team. He energised and motivated our support and our supporters responded brilliantly by backing his vision.” (Scotsman)