Rumour Mill: Celtic in Europe | Rangers pay cuts

Celtic manager Neil Lennon watches the draw for the Champions League Group Stage unfold. Picture: SNS
Celtic manager Neil Lennon watches the draw for the Champions League Group Stage unfold. Picture: SNS
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NEIL Lennon gives his take on Celtic’s Champions League group, Craig Mather says Rangers’ high-earners have discussed taking pay cuts, a possible late move for Fraser Forster, and news from Ross County and Aberdeen in Friday’s Rumour Mill

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - Lennon says Celtic not making up numbers, Messi eyes revenge, Abbiati wary of Celtic Park

• Celtic boss Neil Lennon has urged his side to prove themselves in their tough Champions League group, after drawing three former European champions in this year’s pool stage.

Celtic take on Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona, and Lennon wants his side to prove that they are not “the runts of the litter”.

Lennon said: “We shouldn’t be in awe any more. We should feel part of it. Alright, we have to qualify and we’ve done that. But we shouldn’t feel as if we are the runts of the litter. We should be a part of it.

“When you see the draw getting made, there is no better feeling. My reaction was just about the magnitude of the task. It was the one group you were thinking it would be nice to avoid. But, as sure as eggs are eggs, we landed in it. It’s typical of Scottish teams, we always seem to get the toughies.”

• Argentinean striker Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the world’s best player, has his sights set on avenging Barcelona’s defeat to Celtic when the sides meet again this season.

Messi said: “It looks an even group and you don’t get easy groups in the Champions League.

“We played Celtic last season and we will be looking to beat them this time.”

• Meanwhile, AC Milan keeper Christian Abbiati has said that he is conscious of the threat of the Hoops at home.

Abbiati said: “Celtic is a rival that offers danger in their own stadium.

“It’s always difficult to win in Glasgow but that is not a surprise for us.”

Craig Mather: ‘Rangers’ big earners may take pay cuts’

Rangers’ CEO Craig Mather believes that some of the top earners at Ibrox, including manager Ally McCoist, will take cuts to their pay and benefits as the club continues to cut costs.

In an interview with The Herald, Mather said that while “a lot” of cost-cutting has already taken place, the club was actively looking to cut its wage bill further.

Mather said: “Alistair [McCoist] has said he is going to talk about his pay package and we have already had discussions on this and these are ongoing. He is very open-minded and positive about change, about addressing that.

“Every single high earner is taking it on the chin about where we are and addressing that and looking to build for Rangers… they are happy to discuss their salaries and look at the position Rangers are in and address that.”

Mather also revealed that he has ordered an investigation into an email from the club’s PR firm Media House criticising Rangers legend John Greig. (Herald)

Fraser Forster ‘not certain to stay’ at Celtic

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster has admitted that he has “no idea” what will happen to him this transfer window after Benfica made a bid for his services.

Forster said: “I’m a Celtic player at the moment and we will have to see what happens over the next few days.

“There has been a bit of talk about Benfica. It’s nice having clubs come in for you because it means you are doing well, but we will just have to wait and see.”

Doncaster: Celtic’s European run ‘massive for rest of SPFL’

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has described Celtic’s qualification for the Champions League group stage as “massive” for Scottish football.

Doncaster said that the exploits of Celtic could have a long-term impact on the search for sponsors for the Scottish game, as well as boosting the league’s visibility. He said: “It is massive on a number of different levels. Clearly, on a reputation basis, it helps the entire game.

“Success attracts money, and it attracts profile. Sponsors want to be part of a success story that is getting attention on a world stage. To have a representative in the Champions League stage, that benefits the entire country.” (Scotsman)

Adams: ‘No more signings for Ross County’

Ross County boss Derek Adams will not be bringing any more new faces to Dingwall before the transfer window closes - and has admitted that the club’s Highland location is causing problems in recruitment.

Adams said: “There is always a wee hope, but I would be 95% certain it will not happen.

“There are a number of issues… Location is still a major problem. It always will be. But money as well is always a problem.” (P&J)

Aberdeen’s Flood out for six weeks

Aberdeen midfielder Willo Flood will be out of action for six weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s League Cup tie with Alloa.

The former Celtic and Dundee United man is one of three Dons out of this weekend’s game with St Johnstone. (Express)