In today’s Rumour Mill: Craig Levein’s future uncertain after defeat in Brussels leaves Scotland bottom of Group A; Hearts hit with transfer embargo; Aston Villa respond to Charles Green plus the rest of the day’s football news and gossip.
Craig Levein ‘committed’ to Scotland and won’t step down
Despite a second successive defeat in World Cup qualifying leaving Scotland bottom of the group and eight points adrift of the leaders, Craig Levein is keen to stay on as Scotland manager. Last night’s defeat means Levein has still only won three qualifying games out of 12. (Scotsman)
• SFA Chief tight-lipped over Levein’s future
Stewart Regan has refused to be drawn over Craig Levein’s future as Scotland manager but has admitted that recent results have been ‘disappointing’. Regan is expected to make a statement in the next few days, but would not confirm or deny if Levein would be in charge for next month’s friendly with Luxembourg. (Scotsman)
• Fans call for new manager
A section of Tartan Army fans held up a ‘Strachan SOS’ banner in Brussels as Scotland face yet another disappointing campaign following on from the unsuccessful Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. (Various)
• Group A results send Scotland bottom
Macedonia’s shock 1-0 win over Serbia thanks to a 59th minute penalty means Scotland are now propping up group A. In last night’s other group A match, Wales were beaten 2-0 by Croatia.
Hearts hit with transfer embargo
Hearts have been hit with a transfer embargo that was imposed before the Tynecastle club failed to deliver all salaries to their 45-man squad for the second successive month, with six first team players and manager John McGlynn not receivng their salaries. The sanctions were kept private but neither the club nor the SPL would comment on the reasons for this.
New regulations passed at the end of last season state that the SPL sides are required to ‘pay their players and HMRC on time and be subject to sanctions if they do not.’
Last month’s delay meant several of the higher earners at the Gorgie side were left waiting up to three days for their wages. Manager John McGlynn has cited the absence of £300,000, which the club are claiming they are due in broadcast and sponsor money, as a major factor in the delay.
The ban on transfers all but ends the speculation surrounding a possible return for Czech midfielder Rudi Skacel, who is training with the side.
Aston Villa hit out at Charles Green over ‘useless’ comments
English Premier League side Aston Villa have responded to Charles Green after he apologised for comments in which he referred to the Birmingham side as ‘useless.’ The Rangers chief delivered a broadside against the sums earned by English clubs earlier this week, saying: “How can Manchester United’s revenues be £320m and Aston Villa, who are completely useless, get £250m?”
The Villa Park side issued a statement in return, saying: “Villa were surprised when Charles Green took a swipe at the club.
“Green did later apologise, stating that he was aware of Villa’s pedigree from a defeat of Sheffield United when he had worked there.
“We are hoping that Green will retreat to his day job and leave the cutting remarks for those standing on somewhat stronger footing.” (Daily Record)
Riordan faces fitness battle at Bristol Rovers
Former Hibs striker Derek Riordan is struggling to hold down a place at Bristol Rovers due to being injury-prone. Manager Mark McGhee signed Riordan on a short-term contract after five months without a club following his release from St Johnstone, and believes the striker’s poor fitness levels have played a part in his injuries. Riordan missed his side’s match against Burton Albion last weekend, and is a major doubt for Saturday’s match with Torquay United. Former Motherwell and Aberdeen boss McGhee is keen not to rush the forward back into action as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Mass brawl ends fiery match as England and Serbia U-21s clash
Racism and violence marred the Euro 2013 U-21 qualifying match between England and Serbia last night in Krusevac, as a mass brawl broke out following England’s qualification for the tournament. Following Connor Wickham’s late winner, Danny Rose - who had been subject to racist chanting from the home support - was sent off for a second bookable offence as the two sides exchanged blows on the pitch. Goalkeeping coach Martin Thomas was headbutted by opposition coach Andrija Milutinovic whilst Stuart Pearce’s assistant was punched and kicked in the stomach. Goalkeeper Jack Butland had a seat thrown at him as the Serbian fans threw a number of missiles at the English side.
• St Johnstone should have on-loan winger Peter Pawlett available for selection this weekend. The Aberdeen youngster returned to Pittodrie for treatment on a hamstring injury but could be included in the squad to face Kilmarnock.
• Victor Wanyama has been offered a new deal by Celtic, which would see the Kenyan international extend his stay at Parkhead beyond 2014. THe player’s agent has said that the offer is being considered.
• Former Hearts midfielder Larry Kingston is causing something of a ruckus at current team Hearts of Oak. The Ghana international was suspended for indiscipline by the club and has refused to turn up for training sessions or show ‘remorse’ according to the Ghana club’s management.
• Inverness striker Richie Foran could return to the squad this weekend after limping out of the Highland derby with a knee injury. Manager Terry Butcher is pleased with the Irishman’s progress, allaying initial fears that he would be out for a lengthy period.