THE Three Bears offer to double their loan offer to Rangers to keep Ibrox out of Mike Ashley’s hands; Virgil van Dijk admits it’s ‘great’ to be linked with Arsenal as Celtic face competition for Max Power; Ronny Deila keen on bringing Gary Mackay-Steven to Celtic in this window, plus all the rest of today’s football news and gossip
Three Bears ‘double bid to see off Ashley’
The Three Bears have indicated that they are willing to double their £5m loan offer to Rangers if it keeps Ibrox out of Mike Ashley’s hands.
The Newcastle owner yesterday filed documents notifying land register bosses that he intends to take out security on the stadium and the Murray Park training complex.
But the move - which has angered Gers fans amid fears the stadium could fall into Ashley’s control forever if the club suffers another meltdown - would also make things difficult for Douglas Park, George Latham and George Taylor who, along with Dave King, are attempting to force a shake-up of the Rangers board.
A £5m loan offered by Park’s group remains available but the Three Bears say they are now willing to match Ashley’s terms in a bid to safeguard Ibrox. (The Scotsman)
Celtic face competition from Seagulls for Max Power
Celtic face losing out on wantaway Tranmere Rovers midfielder Max Power, after Championship outfit Brighton were linked with the 21-year-old.
Power has rejected a new deal at Prenton Park, and although Celtic had been credited with an interest in the highly-rated youngster, who has netted 10 goals in 32 matches so far this season, they look certain to miss out thanks to Brighton’s interest.
Tranmere bosses are still debating whether to let Power go for a fee in January, or hang on to him until the summer. (Daily Mail)
Van Dijk opens up on Arsenal interest
Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk has said it is ‘great’ to be linked with teams such as Arsenal as the Hoops brace themselves for further interest in the Dutch stopper.
Van Dijk was left out of Celtic’s squad to face Dundee at the tail end of the previous transfer window as Ronny Deila felt transfer talk had unsettled the player.
But in a series of interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, van Dijk has hinted at moving on from Celtic for his own good, saying: “If there’s a nice club from England, then we have to talk. I want to develop myself as a player.”
Van Dijk is reportedly on the radars of a host of top clubs including Arsenal and Southampton, and told Dutch media during Celtic’s trip to Gran Canaria that he felt playing in Scotland might be having an adverse effect on his international team chances. (Various)
Deila keen to snap up Mackay-Steven in January
Ronny Deila has admitted a preference for taking Gary Mackay-Steven to Celtic before the end of the month in a bid to boost the Hoops’ title challenge.
Deila has already confirmed he hopes the highly-rated Dundee United winger will sign a pre-contract deal that would see him don the green and white hoops in the summer, but the Celtic boss is said to be keen on negotiating an immediate switch - and with United looking for around £250,000 for the Thurso-born player, Deila could ask Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell to sanction the move this month. (Daily Mail)
• Meanwhile, the Norwegian has told Kris Commons to forget about joining up with former manager Neil Lennon at Bolton this month - even if a one-year contract on the table for the ex-Scotland midfielder remains unsigned
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Deila ponders fixture extension plea
The Celtic boss is also reportedly considering requesting a fixture extension to allow the Hoops to manage their congested fixture list.
Celtic have games against St Johnstone and Partick Thistle to play, on top of a list of games including the Europa League two-legged tie against Inter, and a League Cup semi-final against Rangers.
If Celtic progressed in both competitions, that would mean a weekend off for the League Cup final and two midweek dates struck off the domestic front for European games.
And Deila told the Evening Times: “If there are too many matches there could be a problem with time, of course, because you have to have three days between every game.
“It is very hard to play Tuesday, then Thursday, or something, that is not fair.”
Celtic could ask for matches to be played after the league split has taken place - but that could pose problems if the teams concerned are involved in a battle to determine whether they make the top six or bottom six. (Evening Times)
McDowall tells Aird to do talking on the pitch
Rangers caretaker boss Kenny McDowall has pleaded with midfielder Fraser Aird to do his talking on the pitch, after the Canadian youngster claimed the Gers had a better squad than Hearts.
With the top two teams in the Championship set to go head-to-head tonight at Ibrox, Aird stoked the fire by claiming that Rangers had better players than the Jambos, currently 13 points ahead of the Light Blues and so far unbeaten.
And McDowell has told Aird - who claimed a few months back that he would watch Coronation Street rather than title rivals Hearts - to do his talking on the pitch tonight - even though Aird claimed he was responding to Genero Zeefuik’s assertion that a Hearts victory would wrap up the title.
McDowell said: “It’s okay saying what Fraser said, but the Hearts boys are 13 points clear at this point in time so they have a right to say what they want to say.
“You need to be careful how you put it out there. You should be confident, absolutely, but keep a lid on it. Do your talking on the park.” (The Scotsman)
Celtic, Aberdeen in ‘world’s best 128 clubs’
Celtic and Aberdeen have been ranked 31st and 91st respectively in a list of the world’s top 128 football teams based on points awarded for wins and draws between January 1- December 31 2014, depending on level of competition.
Real Madrid came top while Manchester United were ranked 128th - bottom of the list - behind clubs such as Zamalek of Egypt, Bolivian side The Strongest, Mexican outfit Deportivo Toluca and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea. (TalkSport)
News in brief
• Former Celtic, Manchester United and Hibs midfielder Liam Miller has signed for hometown club Cork City, after three-and-a-half years in Australia
• Yoann Arquin says St Mirren have a better chance of Premiership survival than Ross County
• Tony Andreu has insisted he is not about to follow former gaffer Alex Neil to Norwich
• Alan Stubbs is in the market for a defender and back-up goalkeeper but has said that he won’t be too concerned if he is unsuccessful in bringing in any further January signings
• Derek McInnes has backed Aberdeen defender Ash Taylor for a Scotland call-up
• Kilmarnock midfielder Jamie Hamill will be out of action for up to four weeks after undergoing surgery on his knee
• Partick Thistle have thrown out a £30,000 bid from Blackpool for Dundee United target Stephen O’Donnell
• Dundee United are racing against the clock in a bid to secure the services of ex-Motherwell striker Henri Anier, and are desperately trying to clear him for action at the weekend
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