Neil Lennon reveals sectarian abuse prompted Celtic exit; Scott Brown pens new Hoops deal until 2018 and Dave King and Sandy Easdale’s war of words continues as Rangers gear up to face Hearts
Lennon: Sectarian abuse ‘wore me down’
EX-Celtic boss Neil Lennon has revealed that sectarian ‘chaos and madness’ prompted his departure from the club.
Lennon, now manager of Championship outfit Bolton, said in an interview that he didn’t want to ‘paint a bad picture’ because ‘it’s fantastic up there from a football point of view’, but added that it wore him down in the end.
The Northern Irishman was sent bullets in the post; received a number of death threats; was attacked by a Hearts fan during a match at Tynecastle and was assaulted in Glasgow’s West End.
But he felt he was unfairly targeted for abuse, despite conceding he had been ‘no angel’ while at Celtic.
He added: “The anticipation and the rivalry in Glasgow will probably never tire. There is part of me that misses it but a bigger part of me that doesn’t.” (The Scotsman)
Brown signs new Celtic deal
CELTIC captain Scott Brown has signed a new deal keeping him at the club until 2018.
The Scotland skipper had been loosely linked with Crystal Palace in the last few weeks, but has extended his deal in order to chase a fourth consecutive Premiership title.
He said: “It’s an absolute privilege to extend my contract with Celtic, a brilliant football club and with such incredible supporters. This is a place that I call home.
“Being Celtic captain is a tremendous honour and it is a role which I cherish dearly.” (Various)
Maloney set for USA move
SCOTLAND midfielder Shaun Maloney could be set for a money-spinning move to MLS outfit Chicago Fire next year.
It is believed that Chicago Fire plan to tempt the in-form Wigan winger to America with a big money move.
Fire are expected to offer Maloney, who scored the only goal as Scotland beat the Republic of Ireland in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, a two-year deal.
The former Celtic winger is out of contract next summer with the Latics. (Scottish Sun)
King hits out at Easdale over investment rejection
FORMER Rangers director Dave King has hit out at Sandy Easdale, claiming the bus tycoon’s determination to hold onto his place in the Ibrox directors’ box was a ‘prime factor’ in the decision to reject a £16 million investment proposal from the South African-based businessman.
Responding to an accusation from Easdale that his offer had been a ‘phantom bid, King retorted: “It remains interesting that Sandy continues to take the lead on public company affairs.
“The truth is, when I spoke to Sandy on my recent trip to Scotland, his main concern was whether, after investment by our consortium, he would still be able to stay involved with the club.
“He indicated that Mike Ashley would look after him if he assisted Ashley in protecting his commercial rights. The new investment was seen as a threat to Sports Direct’s desire to extend its influence over the Rangers brand in all forms.” (The Scotsman)
Plans laid for Scotland-Northern Ireland clash
SCOTLAND could take on Northern Ireland in their next friendly, after it was revealed that SFA chiefs are working to arrange a warm-up clash ahead of the clash with Gibraltar in March.
Wales are also being considered by Hampden bosses, with other sides also registering an interest in playing Gordon Strachan’s men.
However, Michael O’Neill’s squad are reportedly the favourites to be Scotland’s next opponents.
The teams last met during a friendly tournmanet in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin four years ago, with Scotland - managed by Craig Levein - running out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Kenny Miller, James McArthur and Kris Commons.
Hampden has been slated as the likely venue for the challenge match. (Scottish Sun)
BuyHibs outfit snub Petrie talks
THE group leading the charge for fan ownership at Hibernian appear to have turned down the offer of talks with the club board - insisting they are only interested in meeting with owner Sir Tom Farmer.
It is believed the group, which has the backing of former players Pat Stanton and Paul Kane, had been invited for discussions with Easter Road directors, including chairman Rod Petrie.
But BuyHibs representative Andrew Sibley took to Twitter to say: “Mr Petrie thank you but we’re not meeting the board, only the owner, wait with interest for response!’ (Daily Record)
El Alagui return could soften Malonga blow
FARID El Alagui could return to action for Hibernian sooner than expected, potentially avoiding a selection headache for Alan Stubbs.
The club are expecting to lose striker Dominique Malonga when he joins Congo for their Africa Cup of Nations jaunt in January, but the return of Moroccan forward El Alagui could ensure a seamless transition up front.
Although it’s very much a case of fingers crossed, Stubbs is hopeful that El Alagui’s return could coincide with Malonga’s international experience.
El Alagui was ruled out for up to six months with a ruptured Achilles tendon in September, prompting Hibs to recruit Malonga.
“When you’ve got international players, then at some point you are going to lose them during the season”, said Stubbs, adding: “We’ll just have to wait and see but Farid’s doing very well at this moment in time.
“We haven’t set any targets but we don’t think he’ll be a million miles away from around [the time Congo are competing in the AFCON).” (The Scotsman)
News in brief
• Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte faces a potential jail sentence after a High Court judge issued an arrest warrant for the Motherwell-born businessman
• Swiss third-tier outfit FC Grenchen sacked 11 players after a 10-0 drubbing at the hands of Luzerne’s youth team
• Robbie Neilson has claimed the Hearts-Rangers clash is the biggest game in Scotland this year
• Wigan owner Dave Whelan has been accused of anti-semitism as controversy over the club’s decision to appoint Malky Mackay as new manager grows
• Sheffield United have performed a U-turn on their decision to let convicted rapist Ched Evans train with the club