Rumour Mill: SPFL backlash over Ladbrokes deal | Armstrong

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PLAYERS have hit out at SPFL bosses’ hypocrisy over gambling rules; Stuart Armstrong is waiting by the phone for a Scotland call-up; Haris Vuckic looking to avoid second tier football next season, plus more news and gossip in Thursday’s Rumour Mill

Players hit back at SPFL hypocrisy over Ladbrokes deal

SCOTTISH football chiefs have hit back at suggestions that they are hypocrites for signing a two-year deal with betting firm Ladbrokes while players at all levels are banned from gambling on the game.

The latest furore comes as chief executive Neil Doncaster secured what he calls “the biggest-ever title sponsorship deal of this nature in Scotland in 125 years of the Scottish Football League”.

The league has been without a sponsor since 2013 when Clydesdale Bank’s sponsorship deal expired.

League bosses have recently clamped down on players who have been caught gambling with Rangers’ Ian Black and Steve Simonsen and former Ayr striker Michael Moffat have been banned for breaching the SFA’s zero tolerance rules on players betting on matches.

SPFL Chief executive Neil Doncaster. Picture: TSPL

SPFL Chief executive Neil Doncaster. Picture: TSPL

Partick Thistle’s Steven Lawless is also expected to join them.

The backlash continued on social media with Dundee striker Sean Higgins tweeting that “the SPFL just taking the p*** out of players now”.

Ex-Rangers goalkeeper Andy Goram said: “Ironic they’re fining and banning every player that has a bet on football. Then get Ladbrokes to sponsor them. Brilliant!” (The Scotsman)

- SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has reportedly insisted he hadn’t considered quitting football, despite facing flak over problems with fixtures and finding a backer.

He faced fresh criticism yesterday after announcing a two-year sponsorship deal worth £4 million with Ladbrokes.

He said: “If you don’t like being in the public eye and feeling pressure under that intense media spotlight then this is not the role for you.

“That is a nature of what leagues are. You’re there to serve clubs and if you’re delivering good deals they like, then there’s no issue.

“f you’re not delivering those deals, then there is an issue.” (Scottish Sun)

Stuart Armstrong hoping for a call from Gordon Strachan

Celtic star Stuart Armstrong is reportedly hoping to delay his holiday with a phone call from Gordon Strachan.

The Bhoys midfielder is hoping to be drafted in for Scotland’s friendly against Qatar at Easter Road on 5 June and a Euro 2016 qualifier against Ireland in Dublin on 13 June.

Strachan will be naming his squad for both matches shortly but has reportedly made hints that he will be fielding fringe players in the match against Qatar.

He said: “I think if you asked any player if they’d like to represent their country the answer would be yes.

“But as I’ve said my focus is on Celtic and all I’m thinking about is finishing the season strongly here.” (Scottish Sun)

- Armstrong has apparently tipped Nadir Ciftci and John Souttar to be hits at Celtic if they follow in his footsteps from Dundee United next season.

Both players have been linked to moves to Parkhead this summer but the Tannadice board are reportedly under pressure to keep them at the club.

The players themselves may yet decide that the move to Glasgow would be suit them better having seen the success of Armstrong and Mackay-Steven. (Daily Mail)

Haris Vuckic keen to avoid second tier football

Rangers loan Haris Vuckic is hoping he’ll be playing in the top flight next season, regardless of which club he’ll be at.

The Slovenian midfielder is desperate to avoid second tier football as his parent club seek to avoid relegation from the English Premier League and Rangers battle to break into the SPFL Premiership next season.

The on-loan star has made no secret of his wish to extend his stay at Ibrox but reportedly thinks Newcastle could be detrimental to his future career.

If Newcastle fail to survive in the Premier League and Rangers fail to accede to the top flight, it is highly likely that his stay at Rangers will be cut short.

He said: “You could say things are more positive just now at Rangers than at Newcastle.

“Newcastle lost eight games in a row and then they drew at the weekend.

“Hopefully, they are going to do well in the last two games and I wish them all the best.” (Daily Record)

Petrov: van Dijk still a star in Scotland or England

Former Celtic legend Stiliyan Petrov has tipped Virgil van Dijk for English Premier League success but has said that he should be grateful of the chance to play for a club with the stature of Celtic.

The Hoops defender, rated in excess of £8 million by Parkhead bosses, has reportedly expressed an interest in pursuing new opportunities and challenges with clubs of the ilk of Arsenal, Southampton and Sunderland having already made noise of their interest in signing the Dutchman.

Celtic boss has insisted van Dijk is integral to the club’s European campaign.

Petrov said: “There appears to be no doubt Virgil van Dijk is good enough to play in the English Premiership.” (Scottish Sun)

Dundee on the hunt for four more players

Dundee are looking to secure another four additions to join the trio they have already signed ahead of next season.

Manager Paul Hartley has drawn up a summer wish list for club officials, one of which may be Queen of the South’s Kevin Holt.

So far, Rory Loy has signed up from Falkirk on a two-year deal to boost Dundee’s efforts up front. Alloa left-back Daryll Meggatt and Aberdeen midfielder Nicky Low have also been confirmed.

Dozens of the Firs Den outfit are facing the exit at the end of the season in what is shaping up to be a busy pre-season period for the club. (Evening Telegraph)

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