BRENDAN Rodgers says Celtic are ready for their next European test after dispatching Lincoln Red Imps; Rangers’ return to the top flight of Scottish football will return “showbusiness” to the game; Joey Barton will raise standards at Ibrox, says Matt Gilks; plus the rest of today’s football news and gossip
Brendan Rodgers vows Celtic will be ready for Kazakh test
Brendan Rodgers has pledged Celtic will be ready to cope with an arduous and potentially awkward trip to Kazakhstan when their quest to reach the group stage of the Champions League continues next week.
Goals from Mikael Lustig, Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts secured a 3-0 win over Lincoln Red Imps at Celtic Park last night, overturning the embarrassing 1-0 defeat suffered in the first leg of the second qualifying round tie in Gibraltar eight days earlier.
“We will look forward to the trip,” he said. “It will be difficult but we will be ready. Apart form the six-hour flight, five hour time difference, 35 degree heat and plastic pitch with no water, it should be alright!” (Scotsman)
Scottish game will try cash in on Rangers’ return to top flight
Rangers and Celti have brought the “showbusiness” back to Scottish football, says SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster. Sky and BT have been in talks with the association over TV deals, even though both broadcasters are taking advantage of cut-price deals for Scottish football that don’t expire for another four years. Scottish football is set to collect £15 million, in comparison to the £5bn the Premier League alone is expected to receive.
“I’m certain people, such as those broadcasters and others, will be looking at our rights and seeing how they have increased in attractiveness and value,” said Doncaster.
“We’re in partnership with BT Sport and Sky Sports, long-term deals. There is regular dialogue with them, if not on a daily basis, then certainly a number of times per week. That’s ongoing. Let’s see where that takes us.” (Daily Record)
Mark Warburton’s player hunt hit by sky-high English prices
Mark Warburton feels that Rangers’ chances of landing a central defender have been considerably diminished because the English market has become ludicrously inflated.
The Rangers manager has seen prices for players double in a short space of time which is making it almost impossible to conduct any business.
Warburton said: “We are trying to sign a central defender but it’s an ever-decreasing talent pool.
“You look at the prices down south and there are players moving for six, seven, eight or £10 million who were one, two, three, four just a few weeks ago.
“So the market demand is such that the shelves are getting thin after the Euros.” (Scotsman)
Tony Watt targets 40 games as he signs for Hearts
New Hearts striker Tony Watt insists home comforts can help him thrive at Tynecastle after returning to Scotland on a season-long loan from Charlton.
The former Celtic marksman, who plans to move back in with his parents, completed the switch yesterday following a medical, but a groin injury and a Europa League signing deadline mean he will not be available for tonight’s visit of Birkirkara.
“Hearts are a big club and I want to come back and get some stability in my life and kick on.
“I want to play 40 games a season and I want to be back closer to my family, sometimes it’s difficult being away.” (Scotsman)
Joey Barton will inspire Rangers team-mates, says Matt Gilks
Matt Gilks has backed his Rangers teammate Joey Barton to raise the level of the players at the club as he lauded the former Burnley midfielder’s outspoken nature and hunger for the game.
Former Scotland goalkeeper Gilks, who helped Burnley to the English Premiership alongside Barton last season, made his debut with the former England international against Annan.
He said: “I was telling the lads, because he didn’t come to America, he will raise standards. Joey will come in and demand in training, he is a voice, he likes an opinion, he doesn’t shut up at times.”
He added: “I have said before Joey has got a lot of bad press in his career, but he is so involved in the game, he wants to watch every match he can.” (The Scottish Sun)
Scott McDonald move to Australia called off
A return to Australia for Motherwell’s Scott McDonald has been scrapped after a potential deal with Western Sydney Wanderers failed to materialise. The move disintegrated when Motherwell demanded a transfer fee for the 32-year-old striker, who was offered a two-year deal by the Aussie side.
McDonald is now set to stay with Motherwell.
Motherwll’s general manager Alan Burrows said: “Effectively we have blocked the move because we made it clear to Wanderers we wouldn’t be prepared to let Scott move for free.” (Daily Record)