Football news: Celtic boss admits one big desire, agent's 20-month ban, Rangers won't weaken

We give you a round-up of some of the Friday headlines ahead of a big weekend of Scottish football

Ange’s big Celtic goal

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou wants his team to smash the club’s goal record this season. The Hoops’ most prolific league campaign was in 1915-16 when they netted a whopping 116 times under Willie Maley, while Brendan Rodgers’ 2016-17 team hold the club’s post-war record of 106. Postecoglou’s rampant side, who need just seven more points to guarantee the cinch Premiership title, have notched 102 goals with six games left in which to shoot for the scoring record. “As much as we get defined by success, which means winning trophies and games of football, I guess the most pleasing thing for me is the number of goals we’ve scored because I still think that’s the best part of football for me,” said Postecoglou. “It goes beyond winning because sometimes you can win and not really enjoy a game of football but no-one ever does not enjoy a goal, even the most scrambly, ugliest of goals still get celebrated. If there’s one record I’ll be most proud of it will be if we can score more goals than have ever been scored before by the football club because I know how much joy that has brought everybody involved, players and supporters. The backdrop of that is that we have to win games and win trophies – that’s always going to be the measure – but especially at this football club, and just in football in general, I love the joy that goals bring. The more we score, the happier I am.”

Dons push for appeals changes

Greg Taylor and David Turnbull during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.Greg Taylor and David Turnbull during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.
Greg Taylor and David Turnbull during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.

Aberdeen will lead a push for changes to the Scottish Football Association’s appeals process after accepting defeat over Graeme Shinnie’s four-match ban. Shinnie was handed an additional one-game ban by an independent panel after the Dons’ appeal against his red card in Dingwall on Friday night was deemed either to be “frivolous” or having no chance of succeeding. Aberdeen had been in talks with the SFA following the outcome from Tuesday night’s hearing but their attempts to soften Shinnie’s punishment were doomed to fail. However, they are keen to institute general change after PFA Scotland claimed many of its members had lost faith in the system and argued that the threat of an additional ban was used to discourage appeals. An Aberdeen statement read: “Following our request to the Scottish FA for Graeme Shinnie’s appeal to be re-heard by a freshly constituted fast-track tribunal, we have been informed that this has been dismissed. We now have no further recourse, so Graeme will miss the next four Scottish Premiership matches. We have taken the temperature of several Premiership clubs and will now pro-actively work with clubs and the Scottish FA to bring about sensible and positive governance changes for the benefit of Scottish football. Supporters, the lifeblood of our game, deserve to see a consistency and transparency in decision-making. Aberdeen FC is ready to play its part in a constructive and timely manner.”

Rangers won’t weaken team for Pittodrie

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Rangers manager Michael Beale says he will field his “strongest team that is available” for Sunday’s cinch Premiership match at Aberdeen. Scott Wright returns to the squad for the Aberdeen game but Ridvan Yilmaz, Antonio Colak and Connor Goldson remain out with the latter two set to return against Celtic. Midfielder Alex Lowry has also been added to the injured list while Kemar Roofe (hip), Tom Lawrence (heel), Steven Davis (knee) and Filip Helander (foot) have been out long term. Beale said: “We will play the strongest team that is available this weekend for this game. There are seven/eight days between games. In general we have momentum and I want to continue with that.” Beale has been away recently meeting potential new signings face-to-face and revealed he is closing in on their first summer signings. He said: “There are one or two things we are not far away from sealing. So I am really happy.” Asked about Burnley’s reported interest in Kent, who is out of contract at the end of the season, the former QPR boss said: “I don’t know anything about that. There will be a lot of rumours because he is out of contract and is a good player.”

Kettlewell taps into past success

Rangers manager Michael Beale takes his team to Pittodrie this weekend.Rangers manager Michael Beale takes his team to Pittodrie this weekend.
Rangers manager Michael Beale takes his team to Pittodrie this weekend.

Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell is relishing the challenge of facing a rampant Celtic side after achieving an unlikely success under the toughest of personal pressures on his previous trip to Parkhead as a manager. The Steelmen face a side on Saturday who have won 17 consecutive matches and 21 successive domestic home games. Celtic were aiming for a 36th consecutive domestic cup victory when Kettlewell took his Ross County team to Parkhead in November 2020. The stadium was empty because of Covid restrictions and the hosts’ 10-in-a-row charge was floundering, but Kettlewell was under as much pressure as home manager Neil Lennon, albeit not as publicised. County had not won in seven league matches and Kettlewell had been warned his job was at risk, but goals from Ross Stewart and Alex Iacovitti earned his side a win. “I do take aspects of it, facing a completely different side,” Kettlewell said. “Of that team, there is maybe only Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor that’s left from that group. It’s a completely different challenge but I also look at aspects when you go to these big venues and play against the big teams, what has worked for you in the past, what can you draw on, what comparisons can I make from the group of players that I now work with that might be effective in this game. Like I say, the style is completely different, the dominance right this minute is completely different, but you definitely draw on aspects that may have worked for you before. You might have to tweak and adjust them, but I think it’s important if you have a plan that worked for you before, you don’t deviate too far from it. It was a fantastic day for me personally and for Ross County, but you can maybe try some sort of blueprint that can make you competitive at Celtic Park.”

Hearts aim to get back on course

Alan Forrest believes a much-needed win against Ross County on Saturday could steer Hearts back on course for a top-three finish in the cinch Premiership. After taking over last week following the departure of Robbie Neilson and his assistant Lee McCulloch in the wake of five successive defeats, interim boss Steven Naismith could not reverse the trend as the Jambos lost 1-0 to Edinburgh rivals Hibernian at Easter Road. The Gorgie outfit have slipped back to fourth place, five points behind Aberdeen but Hearts winger Forrest believes three points against struggling Staggies may signal the start of a change in fortunes for the Edinburgh side. The former Livingston player said: “It is a hard one for us to take just now, obviously we are in a sticky situation, the results haven’t been going for us. We have the new manager in, training has been good, we are just not getting the rub of the green with results so we need to stick together. It is hard to put your finger on. We had a good run when we were picking up results, it has turned lately. A lot of the teams in the league have went through a sticky patch, I know Aberdeen did before they got a new manager. Maybe it is just our time at the moment. The important thing is to stick together and get through. We have worked hard in training this week and we hope it can turn for us."

Agent banned for 20 months

James Jeggo is desperate for Hibs to qualify for Europe.James Jeggo is desperate for Hibs to qualify for Europe.
James Jeggo is desperate for Hibs to qualify for Europe.

Leading agent Aidy Ward and his company Colossal Sports Management have been banned for 20 months by the Football Association for approaching an under-age player. Ward, who has represented several high-profile Premier League players, was charged by the FA in March 2022 after being accused of trying to recruit a youth player on behalf of Colossal Sports Management. FA rules bar agents from speaking to players before January 1 in the year of their 16th birthday. Several allegations were aired in a BBC Panorama documentary, Football’s Broken Dreams, in September 2021. Ward has consistently denied any wrongdoing and both he and Colossal Sports Management have lodged an appeal against the FA ban. An FA statement read: “Adrian Ward and Colossal Sports Management Ltd have both been suspended from all intermediary activity up to and including 03 December 2024, and also warned about their future conduct… It was alleged that Adrian Ward had directly or indirectly made an approach to a minor on behalf of Colossal Sports Management Ltd at various points between 01 January 2019 and 31 December 2019. Adrian Ward was charged with misconduct in relation to FA Rule E1(b), and Colossal Sports Management Ltd was charged with misconduct in relation to various breaches of FA Rule E1(b) and Regulation B8 and B8(i), but they were all denied. An independent Regulatory Commission found all of the charges to be proven and imposed these sanctions, and its written reasons for these decisions will be published in due course. Adrian Ward and Colossal Sports Management Ltd have both subsequently lodged an appeal. The FA takes the protection of minors seriously and will continue to enforce its regulations in respect of any such misconduct by participants.”

Jeggo’s European dream

James Jeggo is determined to get a crack at Europe with Hibernian after experiencing Easter Road at its raucous best in last weekend’s Edinburgh derby victory. The Hibees need a win away to St Johnstone on Saturday to ensure their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership after the split. That would then allow them to compete for one of the Europa League or Europa Conference League qualification spots, which – as long as Rangers or Celtic win the Scottish Cup – will go to the teams finishing third, fourth and fifth. Jeggo, who joined the Hibees in January, loved every minute of last weekend’s victory over city rivals Hearts and is determined to sample more big occasions like that in the early months of next season by helping his team into Europe. “For this club, Europe is a target every season and for a player you want to play at the highest level possible,” said the Australian midfielder. “Playing in Europe is a challenge everyone wants to experience. You look at the atmosphere last weekend and it makes you imagine what playing in Europe would be like here. We all want to experience more moments like that, and playing in Europe would give us those moments.”

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