Rumour mill: Mike Ashley challenges SFA over King | Johansen contract

Stefan Johansen is close to agreeing a new deal at Celtic. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Stefan Johansen is close to agreeing a new deal at Celtic. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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MIKE Ashley has lodged a legal challenge to the SFA’s ruling of Dave King as a fit and proper person, Stefan Johansen is close to agreeing a new contract at Celtic, and Gordon Strachan looks to help develop the future of Scottish football.

Mike Ashley legal challenge to SFA Dave King ruling

THE battle between Mike Ashley and Rangers chairman Dave King took another unexpected twist as the Sports Direct tycoon lodged legal papers challenging the SFA ruling that King was a fit and proper person.

King took control of the Ibrox club in March after an extraordinary general meeting, which King called, voted to hoist the previous regime from the board of directors. He later became chairman after the SFA passed him as a fit and proper person.

However, Ashley does not believe King should have been granted such status due to the businessman’s convinction in South Africa for fraud and tax evasion, as well as being on the board of directors before Rangers went into liquidation in 2012. Ashley has now challenged the ruling. The first hearing is due to take place on December 11. (The Scottish Sun)

Gordon Strachan to shape future of Scottish football

GORDON Strachan has revealed he intends to take on a wider long-term role in shaping the future of Scottish football after committing himself to another qualifying campaign in charge of the national team.

Speaking for the first time since signing a new contract which takes in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Strachan outlined his desire to help address an overall decline in standards he believes has now been afflicting the game in this country for more than 20 years.

The nature of the Scotland manager’s additional involvement, which will see him work in conjunction with SFA Performance Director Brian McClair, will be spelled out in greater detail before the end of the year. (The Scotsman)

Celtic in contract talks with Stefan Johansen

CELTIC are in talks with Stefan Johansen over a new contract - despite the Norwegian’s slow start to the 2015-16 campaign.

The reigning SPFL Player’s Player of the Year has been yet to find his award winning form, with some subpar performances both at home and abroad.

Johansen entered the season with a niggling back injury, and this, along with opponents becoming increasingly aware of his strengths, is what his agent believes has contributed to his struggles.

“Stefan was absolutely outstanding last year. People expect him to go on the rampage and do whatever he wants all the time,” said agent Tore Pedersen. “But he is getting tougher treatment from opponents in Scotland this season. He is getting a lot more attention.” (Daily Express)

Jason Cummings sings praises of Riordan for hot streak

WHILE safely away on Scotland duty is perhaps the best time to contradict your manager. It also helps if you are one of Britain’s in-form strikers.

Despite Alan Stubbs’ recent wry contention that he wasn’t prepared to hand Derek Riordan any of the credit, Jason Cummings has praised the former Hibs striker for helping inspire his current streak of goals in each of his last seven games.

Riordan had been training with Hibs in recent weeks while he attempts to get his own career back on track. He has been paying particular attention to Cummings, whose fine goal on-the-turn against Rangers recently conjured up memories of Riordan at his peak. (The Scotsman)

Boyata and Simunovic will make a strong pair - Deila

CELTIC boss Ronny Deila has backed Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic to form a strong defensive partnership once the latter returns from injury.

The £5.5million defender has struggled with an ankle injury since making the move to Parkhead, forcing Deila to alter his back four on a number of occasions, sometimes with disastrous results.

It has led to heavy criticism of Deila and the defence, but the Norwegian believes things will settle down once Simunovic proves his fitness. (Evening Times)

‘Biggest challenge’ gives Frank McParland a buzz at Rangers

THERE is something of the old in his new football abode for Rangers’ head of recruitment Frank McParland. And not just because the first man to take on chief scout duties at the Ibrox club for two and a half years is back working with Mark Warburton.

“Rangers is a great club,” said the former chief scout and academy director on Merseyside. “I look around it and it reminds me of Liverpool. The football side of things here is absolutely massive.”

Cost-cutting by then Ibrox chief executive Charles Green meant the Ibrox club lost their scouting operation with Neil Murray’s departure in April 2013.

“That must’ve been difficult,” McParland said. “Coming from my background, at Liverpool we must have had 30 scouts around the world. Mark and David have done really well in bringing in players and dealing with agents and clubs because there is no real scouting network at the club. That’s for me to get my head around and build up eventually. I would say this is the biggest challenge of my career.” (The Scotsman)

Soufian El Hassnaoui suffers injury setback

HEARTS forward Soufian El Hassnaoui has suffered another injury setback.

The Dutch-Moroccan was due back from a torn cruciate ligament this month but his return has been delayed by a groin problem.

El Hassnaoui, 26, should resume training next week in the hope of finally overcoming his injury troubles. (Edinburgh Evening News)

News in brief

• Hamilton sports scientist Colin Clancy will leave the club to join Middlesbrough next month. (The Scottish Sun)

• Chris Sutton is stunned Leigh Griffiths has not started more games for Scotland under Gordon Strachan. (The Herald)

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