Gerrard calls for more severe punishments after Rodgers burglary

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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard says people who break into homes need to be given 15 year sentences in prison.

This is in response to Brendan Rodgers Glasgow house being burgled in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Gerrard was shocked at the news of his ex-Old Firm rival’s house and has calls for the sentences to increased from three years to 10 or 15.

The Liverpool legend is understandably passionate about the subject after he suffered a similarly horrific ordeal when his Merseyside home was burgled 12 years ago. The men responsible for this particular break in were jailed, but evidently in Gerrard’s opinion, not for long enough.

The Leicester manager’s wife Charlotte Searle and daughter were forced to barricade themselves into the bathroom as the intruders broke in and stole a number of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic winners medals. He has said that despite this horrible experience, he will not let it spoil the good memories he has of living in Scotland.

Even when Rodgers was appointed as the Leicester manager and moved south, Mrs Searle had continued to live in East Dunbartonshire with her daughter while the school term finishes.

Rodgers has said that it is obviously unacceptable from those responsible, the main thing is that his family are unharmed.

 

Sectarianism: A continuous plague in Scottish football

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Celtic and Rangers fans at Parkhead (Credit: PaulVIF)

Pie, bovril and sectarianism. A typical day out for some Scottish football fans but the latter, a trend that should have been left well in the past.

In the last few weeks there have been numerous cases of sectarian abuse directed at those on the pitch and on the touch-line.

Kilmarnock manager, Steve Clarke, came out last week to say that he was delighted Chelsea signed him as a young player and took him away from the west coast. He went on to say that he was relieved his children did not have to grow up with such rampant hatred in England.

The source? A majority believe supporters of Glasgow clubs, Celtic and Rangers are at the heart of the ongoing issues.

For these two clubs religion remains a part of the club’s identity for many fans, despite their board’s efforts to distance themselves from the problem. Something which is not replicated in the English scene.

Clarke urged the Scottish FA to step up their efforts in tackling the issue saying: “Things can be done, Will [it] be done is probably much more difficult to address.”

The Scottish FA chief executive, Ian Maxwell, responded in a statement: “The Scottish FA condemns in the strongest possible terms the spate of incidents this season involving unacceptable conduct in Scottish football.”

More recently, Celtic supporters were criticised for posting a video on Twitter of fans in a pub singing about the IRA and ex-Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

WARNING: Some viewers may find the following video offensive or distressing.

A survey in 2017 of Scottish football supporters found that 81% of supporters thought Scottish football had a problem with sectarianism.

In the following two years there has been little change in the social environment surrounding Scottish football and many fans doubt that any real change will be enacted soon.

But something needs to change. Scottish football lives in the stone age when it comes to this level of discrimination. Clubs must act and distance themselves from the supporters involved if they stand any chance of stamping out sectarianism for good.

Hibs will be different against returning Lennon says Heckingbottom

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Hibernian boss, Paul Heckingbottom said he’s looking forward to meet his predecessor. (Credit: Luke Barry)

Hibernian manager, Paul Heckingbottom believes there will be enough differences tactically for a level playing field upon Neil Lennon’s return to Easter Road.

Celtic take on the Edinburgh club this Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with new interim manager, Lennon.

The Northern Irishman left Hibs in January but made a surprise return to Scottish football earlier this week.

However, despite Lennon managing Hibs earlier this season, Heckingbottom said there won’t be a tactical advantage.

He said: “Well it is [his squad]. I’ve not signed a player.

“He is going to know the players but he’s not going to know what we ask them to do. For me it’s the same, for Neil [Lennon] is coming back somewhere he’s worked before which is always strange.

“It’ll different for Neil coming back to his old club which as I say is always a different sensation but for me nothing has changed.

“It’ll be nice to meet Neil [Lennon]. We’ve never met so it’ll be good to catch up after the game.”

It has been an eventful week for Celtic players and fans alike with the departure of Rodgers and his successor. But Heckingbottom insists it’ll be business as usual for the reigning Scottish Cup champions.

He added: “Obviously, Brendan [Rodgers] is gone. Big opportunity for Brendan and big opportunity for Neil now coming in as well. People just have to look forward.

 

“Celtic fans will be moving on now thinking about this trophy [Scottish Cup]. Football does that, everything is a big sensation one minute and then it just dies down and everyone gets on with it.”

The Hibees have won three out of three under new management with on-loan Reading player, Marc McNulty impressing the most. The Scotsman has scored six goals in four matches with his new club and his manager was impressed with his performances so far.

He said: “I’ve been really pleased with him.

“I can see him continually getting better because he’s not played much football and now he’s getting a run of games. He’s getting his fitness levels back up, his sharpness. We know he can score goals. I think he’ll be good for us between now and the end of the season.”

Hibernian vs Celtic: Scottish Cup Preview

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Hibernian will be hoping to replicate the successful run in 2016 (Credit: David Ronney)

Hibernian welcome Scottish Cup reigning champions, Celtic to Easter Road this weekend, in what is shaping up to be a fascinating fixture following Neil Lennon’s appointment at the helm of the hoops.

Lennon left the Edinburgh club in Janurary and has made a swift return to Scottish football with Celtic only a month later.

The job of Celtic manager was vacated by Brendan Rodgers, who was tempted south to take over at Leicester City following the sacking of Claude Puel on Monday. This sacking was the start of the carousel of manager turnover this week.

Lennon will no doubt receive a mixed reception from the fans upon his return to Leith.

The Northern Irishman was in the dugout celebrating the last gasp winner against 10-man Hearts on Wednesday night that maintained his side’s eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership table ahead of Rangers in second place.

On the other hand, Hibs have enjoyed a good run of form under their new manager Paul Heckingbottom. The new boss has won three out of three since his arrival in mid February. This included an impressive win at St Johnstone on Wednesday night, with Marc McNulty grabbing the winner five minutes from time despite Hibernian going down to 10 men.

That win took them to within three points of fierce rivals Hearts who currently sit in fifth in the SPFL after a disappointing mid-season lull due a long string of injuries.

Heckingbottom will know beating Celtic will hand them a fantastic chance of silverware this season, which would be all too welcome considering their woes in the league this season.

Neil Lennon will be hoping to win a game at Easter Road, which incidentally is something his predecessor Brendan Rodgers never managed to do. A win is essential if the dream of the treble treble is to be kept alive.

The first match of the Scottish Cup weekend kicks off on Saturday at 5:15pm and is live on Premier Sports.

Sports paper review: March 1st

EN4 News sports reporters Bryce Donaldson and John Menzies sit down with Luke Barry to discuss today’s sporting headlines from the Scottish newspapers.

Thistle not to be taken lightly says Hearts’ Ikpeazu

Uche Ikpeazu

Hearts’ Uche Ikpeazu expects another tough Scottish Cup tie on Monday night (Credit: Luke Barry)

Heart of Midlothian forward, Uche Ikpeazu believes Partick Thistle are not a side to be taken lightly as the Edinburgh club travel to Firhill on Monday night.

After suffering relegation to the Championship last season, Gary Caldwell‘s side are at risk of déjà vu as they currently sit bottom of Scotland’s second tier.

However, the experience the side have against Premiership clubs is a reason they shouldn’t written off Ikpeazu insisted ahead of the clubs Scottish Cup quarter-final tie.

He said: “There’s always upsets in these cup games and everyone is probably expecting us to win and sometimes that can also work against you because people think ‘they’ve got to win anyway’. I believe if we do what we do, we’ll win. We just got to focus on ourselves and not the opposition.”


The former Watford player put in a terrific performance against Celtic midweek and just a month on from his return from injury looks closer to getting back to his best.

However, his injury woes earlier in the season kept him out of Hearts’ Betfred Cup semi-final, but the opportunity to guide the club into this stage in the Scottish Cup is something the 24-year-old relishes.

He added: “Watching it [league cup semi-final] was crazy. Seeing how many fans [there were] in the stadium, I would have loved to be a part of it.

“I want to be a part of that this time.

 

“It’s a massive game for the club. It’s come at the right time. I think that game [against Celtic] done me good and now I feel I’ve set the bar and need to perform at that level consistently now, and the team as well, because if we perform like that then we’ll do extremely well.”

 

Hearts can compete with everyone believes Levein

Craig Levein

Craig Levein was happy with performance against Celitc despite defeat (Credit: Luke Barry)

Heart of Midlothian manager Craig Levein insists his team can “compete with everyone” ahead of Monday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final against Partick Thistle.

Hearts lost 2-1 to Celtic at Tynecastle on Wednesday, but despite the result Levein is confident the Edinburgh side are back to their best.

“Yeah I think there was enough in the performance [against Celtic] which made me see we can compete with everybody again,” Levein said.

“We’ve got through troubles defensively with injuries yet again but we can cope with that.

 

“We got to the semi-final of the Betfred Cup earlier on in the season and we lost Steven Naismith in the first minute of the match or something like that which made it extremely difficult for us, but the experience of getting there was good.

“I think it’s a while since we’ve managed to get to two semi-finals so if we can do that and get the victory against Partick I think it puts us in a good position.”

Partick Thistle are currently bottom of the Scottish Championship but are a team Hearts know well having played in the Premiership with them last season.

Levein is aware of the challenge Gary Caldwell’s side will bring, promising he won’t take the Monday night’s match “lightly”.

He added: “It’s a good opportunity to get to a semi-final so we will be playing our best team.

Craig Levein

Hearts will not be taking Partick Thistle lightly says Levein (Credit: Luke Barry)

“The thing is we’re away from home, I’d rather be at home. It will be on us to take the game to Partick.

“Partick are fighting for their lives in the Championship and they’ve got some very experienced players who, if they’re on their game on Monday, have got really good quality.

“I still see Partick Thistle as a big, big club, and that in itself gives us warnings going into this game.

“Thinking just because they’re bottom of the Championship it’s a game we should win easily, that’s just not the case. We know enough about them not to take it too lightly.”

Uche Ikpeazu‘s recent return from a foot injury has been a big boost for Hearts, with the forward impressing on Wednesday against Celtic.

Levein has been impressed with the striker’s work rate and hopes he can be the key for Hearts’ success on Monday.

“I was worried about him [on Wednesday], he put in a lot of effort, a lot of running, and he’s not long back from injury.

“Uche was back to his best and hopefully he’s pretty much the same on Monday.”

The final match of the Scottish Cup weekend gets underway at 7:05pm and is live on BBC Scotland.

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Tottenham Hotspur host Arsenal this weekend for the latest instalment of the North London derby. The Gunners eased to a 2-0 win in their last encounter with Spurs at the Emirates, but what will happen in this weekends early kick-off?

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Our sports reporter Ewan Hawthorne is joined by Ryan Maher and our EN4 News Producer Cameron Storer to give their views and opinions.

Pressure and speculation surrounds the Chelsea Head Coach. Image : Sky Sports

 

Can Scottish football compete with European elites?

It’s that time of the year again when football fans eagerly await news of the latest transfers their club is making in the transfer window. As clubs in Europe are making transactions of over £100 million per window these days, it’s normal practice to see those types of figures bandied about.

For the bigger clubs in Europe those signings are made to help them achieve success in European competitions like the Champions League or the Europa League.

This season, only Celtic made it through the qualifying rounds as the only Scottish team in European competition. Despite dropping out of the Champions League before Christmas, Brendan Rodgers’ side will take part in the Europa League next month – where they will face Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg.

In their Champions League group, Celtic faced two of the richest clubs worldwide: Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. They lost all matches against those sides. The total value of Celtic’s team was tiny compared to the German and French teams – a far cry from the days when Scottish clubs competed in high level matches with Europe’s best. In the current climate, that is not likely to happen again.

Olivier Ntcham was Celtic’s big money buy last summer. Credit: Getty Sport

Neil Patey, a football finance expert, believes that the millions of pounds in broadcast revenue sets the larger leagues apart from that of Scotland’s top flight. He said:

In reality, small leagues, Scotland and Celtic as an example, will never be competitive financially with a team in the upper echelons of the English, Spanish, German, Italian leagues. Aside wealthy owners, those leagues command more money from media rights.

You’re going to get somewhere between £140 million to £200 million every year through media rights. The winners of the Scottish Premiership get about £2.5 million so you are never going to be on an equal footing and there will always be that disparity between big and small leagues.

Celtic are still miles ahead of the rest of the country financially. They spent £4.5 million on midfielder Olivier Ntcham last summer and are likely to receive a multi-million pound offer for their striker Moussa Dembele this month. Edinburgh clubs Hibernian and Hearts struggle to reach seven figures to pay for any players.

Former SFA chief executive, Gordon Smith, thinks that Scotland’s finances will only get better if money is invested into the clubs differently. He said:

[Clubs] might have a buyer who can flaunt the rules a wee bit like some people do, basically coming in as a sponsor like you see in England with Etihad, for example. They can get around it because the owners get to put money in in different ways so that’s the only way Scottish teams can compete.

Gordon Smith (left) believes the Scottish clubs need wealthy owners to compete. Credit: Getty Images

UEFA’s financial fair play rule also keeps tabs on how clubs operate financially. The rule requires teams to financially breakeven with their revenue and expenditure. For the leagues and clubs who benefit from hefty television income that means more money is able to be spent within the rules.

Financial fair play expert, Ed Thompson, says that it is those rules which make it hard for smaller leagues to compete now. He stated:

In Scotland, and smaller countries, the amount of money that TV companies can afford to pay is less. If you look at big clubs in small countries, they have absolutely fallen off a cliff as far as UEFA competition is concerned.

Historically, top clubs in Holland, Belgium, Romania and Scotland – like Ajax, Steaua Bucharest, Anderlecht, Celtic and Rangers – who would have done well in Europe and won competitions, because they are in small countries where TV revenues are lower, financial fair play rules mean they are unable to compete.

Scottish clubs can keep trying. However, football and money are a married couple in the modern day and until Scottish football is rolling in it, pushing custard up a hill with a fork looks much easier.

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Edinburgh Council appeal for people power to help their Tourist Tax Cuts Scheme. Source: Edinburgh Evening News

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