Tuesday 21 January 2020

Rangers to pursue sale plan

Rangers administrators will push ahead with attempts to sell the club after securing cost cuts -- and an unlikely consortium quickly emerged as a candidate.

Former director Paul Murray confirmed on Friday he had joined with fans to formulate an offer -- with the company that facilitated Craig Whyte's takeover.

Ticketus, whose £24m cash injection in return for rights to sell future season tickets was used by Whyte to pay off the bank debt he himself had pledged to settle, are now attempting to help finance the Blue Knights consortium.

Administrators Duff and Phelps revealed the wage deal, which sees some players lose 75 per cent of their pay until the end of the season, had prevented redundancies among staff at Ibrox and Murray Park.

The £1m monthly savings will allow Rangers to finish the season and provide "breathing space" for sale attempts.

The newly-expanded Blue Knights group are determined to avoid liquidation, which would break up 140 years of continuous existence and put Rangers out of Europe for three years.

Ticketus backed Murray's bid as the most viable and, more surprisingly given the investment firm's role in Whyte's buyout, the main fans' groups are happy with the Ticketus involvement.

Lennon: United a big threat

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has acknowledged the recent improvement in Dundee United ahead of today's Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at Tannadice.

The rampant Hoops are 21 points clear of administration-hit Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a Scottish Communities League Cup final at Hampden against Kilmarnock to look forward to next week.

However, they will come up against fourth-placed United who have won their last three matches and kept a clean sheet in their last four.

"The draw couldn't have been tougher, Dundee United away with the form they are in,'' said Lennon. "They are on a fantastic run, four or five clean sheets, scoring goals and winning games so it sets it up for a great game.''

Hibs into cup semi-finals

Goals in the first half by Roy O'Donovan and Leigh Griffiths were enough to see off Ayr United at Somerset Park and put Pat Fenlon's Hibernian into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.

O'Donovan headed in a George Francomb free-kick after six minutes, after earlier having the ball in the net only to see the flag up for offside. Griffiths added the second after 19 minutes from a penalty.

Martinez wary of Canaries

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes Norwich's unpredictability has been the key to their surprisingly effective return to the Premier League.

They entertain the Latics this afternoon having lost just four times at Carrow Road this season and safely anchored in mid-table.

Martinez feels the status is fully deserved, thanks largely to Lambert's tactic of mixing a neat flowing style with the ability to go route-one when required.

"The big thing about Norwich is they are unpredictable,'' said Martinez.

More importantly, Norwich have players who know where the goal is. Grant Holt is the club's top Premier League scorer with 10, but Steve Morison and Anthony Pilkington are not far behind.

By contrast, Wigan can do no better than four goals apiece for Franco di Santo and Jordi Gomez, neither of whom have found the net since the middle of December.

"Norwich have been really impressive. They have shown great belief,'' added Martinez. "The old feelings of inferiority from teams who got promoted has gone."

Saints three points clear

Southampton extended their lead at the top of the npower Championship to three points as Adam Lallana's brace helped them to a 2-0 home win over Barnsley.

Second-placed West Ham are only ahead of Reading on goal difference as the Hammers drew with Doncaster while the in-form Royals beat Leicester.

Sam Allardyce's men made a great start, Kevin Nolan scoring in the ninth minute, but Rovers hit back through James Coppinger (73).

McGuinness the Sligo hero

Jason McGuinness was the injury-time hero for the second league tie in a row when he headed home Sligo Rovers' winner against UCD in the Airtricity League Premier Division last night.

Rovers led through Danny North but Alan Keane was given a straight red on 20 minutes. David O'Connor equalised for UCD in the last minute before McGuinness struck for the hosts.

Sligo Rovers: Rogers; Keane, Peers, McGuinness, Gaynor, Ventre, Lynch, Dillon (Cawley 78), Ndo (Davoren 58), Boco, North (Cretaro 73).

UCD: Barron; Ledwith, Leahy, D O'Connor, Nangle (Langtry 68), Mulhall, P O'Conor, Kavanagh, Rusk, Benson, Lyons (Clarke 78).

Referee: R Rogers.

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