Halliday, Flanagan and Foderingham to leave Rangers

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    Andy Halliday, Jon Flanagan and Wes Foderingham will leave Rangers upon the expiry of their contracts, it has been confirmed.

    The Ibrox club said they were “grateful for the professionalism, commitment and application” of all three players, as they revealed their departure in a statement.

    Halliday and Foderingham both joined the club in 2015, while Flanagan joined former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard in Glasgow in 2018.

    Jason Holt, Jordan Rossiter and Jak Alnwick will also leave – the three fringe players were out on loan last season.

    Manager Gerrard said: “I want to recognise the contribution of the players who are leaving our squad at the end of this season.

    “There is a lot more that people contribute to, away from the fixtures each weekend, and I commend each of the departing players for what they have given to us day in and day out.

    Scotland international has been a mainstay in the team since joining from Luton three years ago

    The Rugby Park outfit confirmed the defender’s departure on Tuesday, adding they had tried their best to keep him.

    The Scotland international has been a mainstay in the team since joining from Luton three years ago.

    Manager Alex Dyer said: “It is never easy to see players depart the club, especially in these circumstances, where the guys have not had the chance to say goodbye to the crowd and the fans have not had the opportunity to thank the players for their contribution.

    “In Stephen O’Donnell’s case, we tried our very best to keep him and spoke on numerous occasions both in person and on the phone but he wants to explore his options as he’s entitled to do as a free agent.

    “Stephen has been a fantastic player for this football club and a good person to have around the place and, as is the case with all the players, we thank them for their efforts and wish them all the very best for the future.

    “To our supporters, I hope you are all keeping safe and well and we’ll continue to keep you up-to-date with any more news as soon as possible.”

    O’Donnell is not the only departure in Ayrshire, with a number of players due to leave at the end of their contract or loan period.

    These include Laurentiu Branescu, Harry Bunn, Dario Del Fabro, Adam Frizzell, Niko Hamalainen, Stephen Hendrie, Connor Johnson, Jan Koprivec, Devlin Mackay, Harvey St Clair and Iain Wilson.

    The game’s governing body in Scotland won’t be taking Rangers to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    The Scottish FA has dropped charges against Rangers over alleged irregularities in paperwork which allowed them to compete in the 2011/12 Champions League.

    It had been considering legal action in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, but has now effectively killed off any prospect of disciplinary action over the long-running issue.

    The saga began when “contradictions” were found between information in Rangers’ application for a licence to play in UEFA’s premier club tournament and testimony given during the fraud trial of former owner Craig Whyte.

    Rangers claimed in the application they had no tax debts – which must be declared to qualify for a licence – but former directors said in court that the club knew they had an overdue bill.

    The Scottish FA brought charges against the club, but due to the ‘five-way agreement’, which allowed Rangers to play in the Scottish Football League after liquidation in 2012, any dispute between the parties has to be heard by the specialist sports court.

    An SFA-convened independent panel upheld that jurisdiction agreement 18 months ago, with the governing body sent away to consider its next steps.

    After a lengthy internal review and receiving legal advice, the Hampden board has now decided to drop the charges rather than fight a lengthy and expensive legal battle.

    The club were originally charged under the 2011/12 rulebook, which only allowed for a standard fine of £5,000 for breaking the rules, or a top end fine of £10,000 in extreme circumstances.

    The Scottish FA hierarchy felt the costs of pursuing the case in Lausanne, which could run to six figures, were prohibitive to a charge that would merit only a maximum £10,000 fine. The board were also advised that the prospects of victory at CAS were not high.

    A brief statement on the Scottish FA website read: “A Judicial Panel convened to consider a Notice of Complaint raised against Rangers FC in 2018 – in relation to alleged new evidence regarding representations received prior to the awarding of a European licence for season 2011/12 – determined at a preliminary hearing that it did not have jurisdiction to determine the matter.

    “Following consideration of the implications of such a referral, including legal opinion, it was the board’s unanimous position that this matter should not be referred to CAS.

    European football’s governing body UEFA is unable to investigate issues more than five years old, meaning the decision has effectively brought the issue to an end.

    Whyte was cleared of taking over the Ibrox club by fraud following a seven-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow in 2017.  

    Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson said his emotions were “bittersweet” as the high of finishing third in the Premiership was followed by the low of having to tell players their time at the club was up.

    The Fir Park side will play European football next season after the SPFL opted to call the top-flight campaign on Monday on a points-per-game basis.

    Robinson has guided the Steelmen to their highest league finish since 2015 and the Northern Irishman believes it’s just reward for their hard work across the season.

    “I think we thoroughly deserved it, some of the football we’ve played has been excellent and some of the young players have really stood up.”

    I had the unenviable task of telling players through Zoom and Whatsapp calls they aren’t going to get contracts.

    Robinson couldn’t toast his team’s success for too long, though, as his attention quickly turned towards planning for the next campaign.

    The former Oldham boss said he’s already been forced to let players go via Zoom calls as the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic hits home.

    He continued: “As much as we were happy with the achievement and getting a European spot, I had the unenviable task of phoning players and telling players through Zoom and Whatsapp calls with Keith Lasley that they aren’t going to get contracts, boys who aren’t going to be kept on for next season.

    “It was a bittersweet moment, it’s the hardest bit of football, but that is the start of our preparations coming back.

    “I knew who was and wasn’t going to get a contract. I don’t think it was a great surprise to a lot of the players I spoke to.

    “Some are probably dictated by finance at the moment. Everyone is going to have to tighten their purse strings.

    “So boys who we were maybe going to give another year to see how they progress we weren’t able to.

    “They were difficult conversations but I think it was only fair to them to do it as quickly as possible to give them a heads up on their livelihoods and careers as up until then there was still a remote chance we may have come back to play the season out.

    “Unfortunately, I have had to make too many (of these difficult decisions). It’s part of football.

    “A lot of the boys knew it was coming but one or two, if finances dictated, we would have given another year to see how they progress.

    “There’s a couple of boys we brought into Scottish and UK football for the first time we felt another season would develop them.

    “We take a couple each year, Christie Manzinga was one and given another year he may have really progressed here but we don’t have that option.

    “At this club we don’t throw them out the door. We will speak to agent and clubs on their behalf, we try and help people.”

    Robinson expects to continue the club’s policy of bringing through academy prospects at Fir Park next season as the club looks to combat lost revenue.

    “Boys we have offered contracts to we are still hoping to fulfil them,” said the Northern Irishman.

    “I haven’t got the budget yet as all this only happened yesterday. But it’s going to make an impact, make no mistake. Every club in the country will be exactly the same, not just us.

    “We are in a decent position in terms of where we finished and European football, but there will be a big impact on budget and the club, staff and Scottish football as a whole.

    “We have boys contracted. We will try and fulfil the contracts to the younger boys we have offered contracts to, as that is who the club is going to be built around.”

    In a career spanning 14 years, the Glasgow Warriors man made 33 appearance for his country.

    Jackson, who said he was fortunate to live out his “childhood dream” has now turned to a new role in the drinks industry.

    “I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, but it is now time to embrace a new challenge,” Jackson said on social media.

    “I have been so fortunate to live out my childhood dream of playing rugby not just professionally but for my country.

    “It has been a journey that has allowed me to travel the world, make some incredible friends and without doubt has given me some of the happiest days of my life.”

    In addition to two spells at the Warriors – which included 163 appearances and 499 points – Jackson has played for Wasps and Harlequins in the English Premiership.

    He continued: “I have played at some amazing clubs, Wasps, Harlequins and of course two stints at Glasgow Warriors, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

    “The supporters at all these clubs have been immense and will be one of the things I will miss most.”

    Celtic manager says pressure is off his squad as they chase a historic tenth title in a row.

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes the pressure is off his players as the club seeks to win a historic tenth consecutive Scottish league title.

    The Parkhead side have now won nine championships in a row after the Scottish Professional Football League ratified a decision to bring a premature end to the 2019-20 campaign.

    Lennon told STV News this year’s title triumph is the “best of the lot” and one that means a lot to the club as a whole.

    “I think the pressure is off now, I think they’ve matched nine and now you can really look forward to trying to do something very, very special, which no other club has done. I think that’s a great motivation for the players,” he said.

    “I can safely say we’re going for ten now. When we won eight everyone was talking about ten, we had to win nine, we’ve done that and it’s been a magnificent effort and now we can sort of hopefully look back on this season and build on it for next season.

    “We’re improving all the time – in terms of goals scored, in terms of points racked up, so while other teams were getting better around us, we were getting better as well and we look to achieve that again next year.

    “Supporters of a certain vintage will remember the first nine-in-a-row, you know for them to see this again is absolutely fantastic and on behalf of the background staff I want to congratulate the players on a brilliant performance again,”

    “Supporters of a certain vintage will remember the first nine-in-a-row, you know for them to see this again is absolutely fantastic and on behalf of the background staff I want to congratulate the players on a brilliant performance again.”

    Celtic held a 13-point lead over rivals Rangers when the league was suspended in March. A points-per-game basis was used to determine the final league positions.

    This is the second time that Celtic have won nine-consecutive titles in a row – having already achieved the feat from 1965 to 1974.

    Lennon said: “I’m not going to compare myself to Mr (Jock) Stein but also I want to pay tribute to Ronnie (Deila) and Brendan (Rodgers) as well, who had a huge part in this and I was lucky enough to get the chance again to manage the club and take it on to get nine (titles).

    “It’s a marvellous day for me personally but more than anything the background team have done a sterling job and the players have been so consistent and they really smashed it, particularly the second half of the season.”

    The unanimous agreement among Premiership clubs that the top flight can’t be completed means that Rangers have finished runners-up, with Motherwell third and Aberdeen in fourth – the final European qualification spot.

    Hearts have been relegated with eight games left to play and now face the prospect of Championship football when football resumes.

    And Lennon says he has sympathy with Hearts and the other clubs in Scotland who have been relegated following the SPFL resolution to end the league season early amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I have sympathy for all those clubs (who were relegated). Any proposals…this seemed to be the best outcome and all the member clubs have voted for this so I have a lot of sympathy for those clubs but someone has to win and sometimes someone has to lose,” he added.

    As well as nine titles in a row, the awarding of the Premiership trophy means that Celtic are also still on course to win a quadruple treble.

    They are in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, which are set to be played at a later date, and they won last year’s League Cup, defeating Rangers 1-0 in the final at Hampden.

    “What can we do? For me, from a footballing point of view, our players were the ones who lost out the most – the opportunity to win the league in front of the supporters, you know, we’re also in the semi-final of the (Scottish) cup having already won the League Cup, so there is nothing we could have done about it,” Lennon said.

    “To win it in this way, you know, it’s not ideal but we’re worthy champions. We were coursing ahead and looking really strong at the time.

    “They will all individually be celebrating at home and I imagine the players will be in touch with each other either via Zoom or some sort, you know, the club will do things through the communications and PR department and we will celebrate – I think it is something to savour, it is something to remember and it is something to be very proud of.”.

    Aberdeen are facing “the daunting prospect” of a further £1m in losses after the Scottish Premiership season was brought to an end.

    The SPFL confirmed the campaign’s conclusion earlier, with a points-per-game basis used to determine the final league positions.

    It means the Dons finish in fourth, securing a Europa League spot, but chairman Dave Cormack has conceded part refunds for season tickets, advertising, hospitality and sponsorship could create another shortfall.

    Cormack, who said games in front of fans were not looking likely until early 2021, asked those in the Red Army who are in a position to do so to leave the refund with the Pittodrie club.

    “Like every other club, we face a major, and ever-growing cashflow challenge as a result of the continued suspension of football,” Cormack said in a statement.

    He continued: “The cancellation of our remaining fixtures from last season now leaves us with the daunting prospect of a further £1m of potential losses through part refunds across season tickets, advertising, hospitality and sponsorship.

    “Where possible, our appeal to supporters, who are in a position to do so, is to leave the partial refund with the club to help address our funding shortfall and continue to support our community outreach work as part of the #StillStandingFree campaign.”

    Two months ago, Cormack said the club were facing £5m in outgoings with no expected income as he discussed the stark financial picture for Premiership clubs.

    Since then, however, Aberdeen have taken steps to address the financial consequences of cancelled games, through a deferral of salaries and some furloughing, as well as securing an additional £2m from investors.

    Cormack also credited supporters who had stepped up to buy season tickets, with around 5000 being sold for next season.

    He also confirmed the club will continue to invest in 20 full-time staff who form part of their community outreach call centre during the coronavirus pandemic.

    He added: “We could have furloughed this group of staff but feel we are doing the right thing continuing these wellbeing calls and food deliveries to the vulnerable.”

    Celtic have dedicated their nine-in-a-row title win to their supporters and key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Parkhead club were awarded the Scottish Premiership after the SPFL announced a premature end to the campaign on Monday.

    A points-per-game approach was used to determine the final league positions, which also saw Hearts relegated.

    In a statement, Celtic said: “We have dominated the Premiership, winning 26 games out of 30.

    “We have scored 89 goals, conceded just 19, and established a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table. We are champions for a reason.

    “We dedicate this victory to you. To all our supporters. To the key workers who are saving lives, cleaning hospitals, stacking shelves and shielding loved ones at home.

    Chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “We dedicate this title to everyone who has cared for us and all those who have been affected by these times of challenge and difficulty.

    “As we have said before, against a backdrop of global crisis, all areas of society are experiencing huge adversity and it is vital that we take a moment to remember this.”

    Manager Neil Lennon described it as an “honour” to work with the current group of players, a team he said is “crammed with talent, spirit, strength and resilience.”

    He added: “I love these players – players who do their talking on the pitch and pride themselves in their professionalism.

    “Led by a captain of the highest quality, these players are relentless in achieving their objectives.”

    And while Celtic said they wanted to see its fanbase “celebrate in style”, they urged supporters to do so at home and remain safe.

    Relegated Hearts are to submit a member’s resolution for league reconstruction in a last-ditch bid to stay in the Scottish Premiership.

    The Tynecastle side face the prospect of Championship football next season after the SPFL called the top-flight campaign on a points-per-game basis.

    Hearts chair Ann Budge has previously indicated she will take legal action to challenge the decision.

    However, Hearts now hope to avoid that process and stay in the top tier after “positive talks” with the SPFL and member clubs left the capital side hopeful of successfully revisiting the topic of league construction.

    A statement read: “We have stated from the outset that we don’t believe it is right that any club should be unfairly penalised because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “It was previously indicated that league reconstruction would not generate enough support to pass a vote between member clubs.  In recent days a number of positive talks have been held with both the SPFL and member clubs and this topic is currently being revisited.

    “Hearts will shortly submit a member’s resolution that we believe is a pragmatic solution to the issues the game currently faces and a way forward that the clubs can unite behind.

    “It is our belief that this resolution, if supported, will provide an opportunity to avoid disproportionately disadvantaging – financially and otherwise – any club. 

    “This is possibly the final chance for our game to stand together, protect each other and not only survive but flourish in the aftermath of this terrible pandemic.

    “Players from across all leagues have shown a desire for reconstruction and having already received support from some clubs we are hopeful that this resolution can positively progress Scottish football.

    “As previously intimated the club has been taking legal advice throughout this process and are continuing to do so.

    “We hope that the resolution being prepared will avoid the need to go down this route. Legal action would be both time consuming and expensive.

    “To our supporters, we thank you for showing patience and continuing to back the club. We will continue to fight against what we believe is an unjust outcome.”

    Celtic have been awarded the Scottish Premiership title and Hearts have been relegated after the season was ended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Parkhead side, who have now won nine championships in a row, held a 13-point lead over rivals Rangers when the league was suspended in March.

    The SPFL ratified the decision to bring a premature end to the campaign at a meeting on Monday.

    Rangers have finished runners-up, with Motherwell third and Aberdeen in fourth – the final European qualification spot.

    Hearts have been relegated with eight games left to play and now face the prospect of Championship football when football resumes.

    However, the club’s chair Ann Budge has previously suggested she will take legal action to challenge relegation.

    SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said: “Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to officially congratulate Celtic on their achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, and also to sincerely commiserate with Hearts on their relegation.

    “We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters.

    “This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.

    “Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time.

    “Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.”

    SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: “On Friday, Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from Season 2019/20. 

    “The SPFL board met this morning and in line with the express agreement of member clubs in April, the board determined that league season 2019/20 and the Premiership be brought to an end.

    “This decision now enables us to pay out around £7 million in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time.

    “The focus of all those involved in the game will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible.”

    Source: https://news.stv.tv/sport/halliday-flanagan-and-foderingham-to-leave-rangers

    Rangers F.C., Andy Halliday, Wes Foderingham, Jon Flanagan, Steven Gerrard, Ibrox, Liverpool F.C.

    World news – GB – Halliday, Flanagan and Foderingham to leave Rangers

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