Posts Tagged ‘ Motherwell ’

Twelve Irish players start SPL season

Another Irishman joined the SPL ranks this week when Hibs boss Pat Fenlon signed Gary Deegan from Coventry City for an undisclosed fee. 24 year old Deegan who was born in Dublin spent the early part of his career with Shelbourne, before being loaned to Kilkenny City. He then played for Longford Town and Galway United before joining Fenlon at Bohemians.

The tough tackling midfielder has been on Fenlon’s radar from the moment he walked into Easter Road and is likely to start against Hearts in this weekend’s derby. His registration papers were not through in time for him to play against Dundee United on Sunday.

Of the sixteen Irish players in the SPL, only twelve started, and seven of those played in Dundee United’s 3-0 over Hibs. Sean Dillon picked up an early injury and was substituted at half time. Willo Flood and Richie Ryan both played well, but player of the day has to be Jon Daly who caused the Hibs defence problems throughout the 90 minutes. Daly capped off a fine performance with a headed goal in the second half to secure the points. Gavin Gunning was also solid at the back for the Arabs.

Tim Clancy started at right back for Hibs and was caught out of position for United’s first goal, although the former Motherwell defender could claim to have been blocked by John Rankin. Eoin Doyle played in Hibs midfield and held the ball up well creating a couple of chances.

Fenlon still wants to sign Alan Maybury but he is still waiting to see if the board can come to an agreement with the player.

Jonny Hayes started in Aberdeen’s narrow defeat against Celtic at Parkhead and had an anonymous game in midfield. Anthony Stokes recovered from his badly sprained ankle sustained against Inter Milan last week to start the match although he was taken off after 77 minutes and replaced by fellow countryman Daryl Murphy.

Aaron Doran started for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in their 2-2 draw with St Mirren, but striker Richie Foran missed the game through injury. David Van Zanten started for the ‘Buddies’ and had his usual reliable performance at right back. Club captain Jim Goodwin missed the game due to suspension and Graham Carey did not make the squad.

Kilmarnock striker Paul Heffernan is currently injured and missed the opening fixture against Dundee at Rugby Park, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Darren Randolph kept a clean sheet for Motherwell against Ross County in Dingwall as both clubs shared the points in a goalless draw. Kurtis Byrne did not feature in County’s squad.

There were no Irish players at Tynecastle where Hearts beat St Johnstone 2-0.

Irish Tangerine Contingent Dream Of Title Tilt But At What Cost?

Nestled on the banks of the River Tay lies one of football’s finest institutions, something of a sleeping giant of the modern game and a club that is best placed to challenge the established order this season.

With the all too documented demise of Rangers, it would appear that the Scottish Premier League is Celtic’s to lose after their fierce rivals where banished to the graveyard of Scottish football. Few, if any, have speculated about who is best placed to challenge the Hoops and that is very disrespectful to the likes of Motherwell, Hearts and Dundee United.

It is the latter which would seem best placed to challenge Celtic.

After a decade of relative unease around Tannadice the fortunes of this famous club began to change. The year was 2006 and the Arabs opted to appoint 14 year Hearts veteran Craig Levein as their new manager. It was an opportunity that seemed viable to both sides, the club required stability while Levein was an upcoming manager who wanted to make the next step up after a brief period at Raith Rovers.

Levein began restructuring the club, overhauling its youth system and bringing a new generation of young talent into the first team. The club comfortably avoided relegation in Levein’s first season in charge, and then managed two successive fifth place finishes, the first time they had managed successive top-half finishes since the days of the legendary Jim McLean. By late 2009 the club were in second place in the table, and looking to have an outside chance of mounting a title challenge.

Levein’s achievements had not gone unnoticed however, and in November 2009 he accepted the job of the Scotland national team manager. The club searched high and low in their attempts to sound out who was the best candidate to replace Levein. After a lengthy search it became apparent that his successor was right before them. After a successful spell as caretaker manager Peter Houston, Levein’s assistant was given the job on a full time basis. The shift from Levein to Houston was smooth and culminated in a third place SPL finish and a Scottish Cup victory, the second in the club’s history.

After two successive fourth place finishes, Dundee United look set to challenge Celtic to the title, having been able to keep their side relatively intact despite the current doom and gloom surrounding Scottish football. The foundations of this Tangerine side is based around a mixture of talent, a blend of youth and experience, which includes no fewer than six Irish stars.

Scottish football has become synonymous with an influx of Irish stars in recent years and one only has to look to Tannadice, where a club originally formed as Dundee Hibernian, boast some of the finest Irish talent on offer. The free scoring club captain Jon Daly, the ever consistent Sean Dillon and the combative Willo Flood make up the established Irish guard at the club. In recent times they have been joined by Irish under 21 star Gavin Gunning, Sligo Rovers midfielder Richie Ryan and young gun Paddy Barrett.

At the time of writing it is a matter of hours since Dundee United opened the new season with a three nil rout of Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian. Ironically the Arabs had tried in vein to lure Fenlon from Bohemians after the departure of Levein. The Tangerines raced out of the blocks on their return to SPL action and their entire Irish contingent featured with the exception of Barrett, who has yet to make his first team bow despite making the bench last year.

While it is wrong for one to judge a team by its first look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the chemistry within this Dundee United side provides a severe threat, one which Neil Lennon should heed. The very future of Scottish football can benefit from the success of this United side with names like Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay Steven bound for international recognition in the near future. Houston’s side possess a solid threat to Celtic yet their title tilt may struggle should they qualify for the Europa League, something they are reasonably well placed for.

The Tangerines seemed set to record a 2-1 home win in their first leg encounter with Dynamo Moscow only for Alexander Kokorin to snatch a draw with a last minute strike. The tie is well poised although the Russians will fancy themselves given their away goals. But perhaps Dundee United would benefit from bowing out of Europe. Financially it could be crippling, given the lack of finance in the Scottish game at present. However in the long run a lack of European exertion may well be the very thing Peter Houston requires to turn his side into serious title challengers.

No Scottish club has been oblivious to the financial plight that has struck the game in the light of the punishment handed down to Rangers. Every club is desperately clutching at whatever finance is available and the windfall arising from European qualification is something few if any can afford to miss out on.  But should Dundee United and their Irish contingent bow out of Europe they may well find their league fortunes reach unparalleled heights. This exciting and free flowing side are a team on the up and one well worth watching. There is a very fine line between success and failure and Peter Heuston has the makings of a man who can bring back the glory days of the McLean era.

Irish players in the SPL Set For Big Kick Off

The SPL kicks off this weekend and fifteen Irishmen are likely to take part in the opening fixtures. John Hislop looks at how the Irish contingent have performed during the close season and examines who is likely to make an impression in the next nine months.

Irish football fans will be interested in the Dundee United versus Hibs game as potentially seven Irishmen could take part. Before that, the Arabs take on Dinamo Moskva (UEFA Europa League 3rd Round Qualifier 1st leg) at Tannadice with some help from Michael Gardyne’s pal Aiden McGeady who has passed on his knowledge of the Russian team.

Four Irishmen took part in the club’s recent derby win over Dundee at Dens Park, with captain Jon Daly scoring a memorable hat trick. Sean Dillon ,Willo Flood and Richie Ryan also started the game and are likely to be first choices for Peter Houston’s team when available.

Tim Clancy is another likely starter alongside Eoin Doyle in the Hibs side. Clancy kicked off his Easter Road career at East Fife where he scored a stunning free kick to endear himself to the Easter Road fans. Doyle has featured in most of the pre-season games, but has yet to open his account for the campaign. Pat Fenlon’s new 4-2-3-1 system leaves Doyle as an attacking left sided midfield player with new on-loan signing Leigh Griffiths as the lone striker.

Pat Fenlon also hopes to have experienced versatile defender Alan Maybury on the books and talks are on-going between the player and the board to thrash out a deal. Maybury has also featured in most of the pre-season games and came on as a second half substitute against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Jonny Hayes has already made an impression during pre-season, with his lightning pace in Aberdeen’s 1-0 friendly defeat against Werder Bremen. He has been used sparingly and started Saturday’s game on the bench, coming on as a substitute in the second half as the Dons prepare for their opening fixture away at Champions Celtic.

It looks as though he won’t be facing Anthony Stokes who was carried off on a stretcher in the first half of the friendly against Inter Milan at Parkhead on Saturday, after blocking a clearance from Esteban Cambiasso. The injury which appears to be a badly sprained ankle makes Stokes a serious doubt for the Champion’s League qualifying round against HJK Helsinki on Wednesday.

Stokes’ team-mate Daryl Murphy appears to be out of Neil Lennon’s plans and was offered to Ipswich last month for a cut price deal however the deal fell through.

Inverness Caledonian’s Richie Foran scored a penalty in the club’s friendly win over Coventry City whilst fellow countryman Aaron Doran also took part.

Kilmarnock striker Paul Heffernan is currently injured and is a major doubt for the opening fixture against Dundee at Rugby Park.

Darren Randolph continues to be first choice in the Motherwell goal and is looking forward to the club’s Champion’s League qualifying round fixture against Greek giants Panathinaikos tomorrow at Fir Park. A large crowd is expected for the Steelmen’s first ever game in this competition.

Kurtis Byrne is currently with Ross County in the Netherlands for their pre-season tour ahead of their first top flight campaign, and hopes to get his career back on track after being released by Hibs.

David Van Zanten continues to be a first choice for Danny Lennon’s St Mirren, but captain Jim Goodwin had to be content to sit on the bench for Saturday’s defeat to Carlisle as he will be suspended for the opening game of the season against Inverness at New Love Street. Former Celtic player Graham Carey has not featured in the pre-season games and is unlikely to start on Saturday.

Irish News Review will continue to monitor how the Irish players are performing throughout the season.

Irish players in the SPL

Now that Dundee have finally been named as the team who will replace Rangers in the SPL, Irish News Review takes a look at the Irish players who will be plying their trade in Scotland’s top division this season. At the moment, there are 17 Irishmen in the various first team squads, and one waiting to hear whether he will be given a contract.

Dundee United lead the way with six, whilst St Mirren  have three. Hibs, Celtic and Inverness all have two Irish born stars on their books.

Regular updates will appear on Irish News Review on how each player is performing throughout the season.

Jonny Hayes (Born 9 July 1987 in Dublin)

Hayes is a creative midfield player who came to Aberdeen’s attention after several outstanding displays for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He joined the Dons in the summer on a two year contract. He previously played for Reading, MK Dons, Leicester City, Northampton Town and Cheltenham Town before moving to Scotland in 2009.

Anthony Stokes (Born 25 July 1988 in Dublin)

Stokes is a natural goal scorer who has one year left on his contract with Celtic. He began his senior career with Arsenal, but established himself with a successful loan spell with Falkirk before signing for Roy Keane’s Sunderland in a £2 million deal. He struggled to hold down a place in the Sunderland first team, and moved to Hibs for an undisclosed fee, scoring 20 goals in his only full season. In 2010, he signed for Celtic and has scored 26 goals in 63 games to date. He has been capped four times for the Republic of Ireland.

Daryl Murphy (Born 15 March 1983 in Waterford)

Murphy is a winger / striker who will also start his last year of a three year contract with Celtic whom he joined from Sunderland for an undisclosed fee. He made an impressive start to his career in the hoops, but subsequently spent a year with Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town on loan. To date he has played 18 times for Celtic scoring 3 goals. He has nine international caps.

Sean Dillon (Born 30 July 1983 in Dublin)

Dillon is a right back currently playing for Dundee United. He was a youth player with Aston Villa but failed to make the grade there, returning to his homeland where he played for Longford Town and Shelbourne. He joined the Arabs in 2007 and has played 156 times, scoring 3 goals, and has one under 21 cap and one ‘B’ international cap.

Willo Flood (Born 10 April 1985 in Dublin)

Flood is a right winger with Dundee United having returned to the club after spells with Celtic and Middlesbrough. He started his senior career with Manchester City and joined Cardiff City for a reported £200,000 in 2006. During his time with the Bluebirds, he spent two loan periods at Tannadice.  To date he has played 86 times for United, scoring two goals. He has 11 under 21 caps.

Richie Ryan (Born 6 January 1985 in Tipperary)

Ryan is a midfield player with Dundee United. He joined the club in November 2011 from Sligo Rovers for whom he played 112 times, and to date has played 13 times for the Tannadice outfit. He started his senior career with Sunderland, making two appearances, and has played for Scunthorpe United, Boston United and Royal Antwerp. In 2010 he played in a League of Ireland XI.

Jon Daly (Born 8 January 1983 in Dublin)

Daly is a striker with Dundee United. He joined the Arabs in 2007 from Hartlepool United. He started his senior career with Stockport County, for whom he made 91 appearances over a seven year period. He has also played for Bury and Grimsby Town. Daly is highly regarded at Tannadice and is currently club captain. To date he has played 131 times for United, scoring 48 goals. He has 16 under 21 caps, scoring 7 times.

Tim Clancy (Born 8 June 1984 in Meath)

Clancy became Pat Fenlon’s first signing of the season and marked his debut against East Fife with a stunning free kick. He can play right back or centre half, and joined Hibs from Motherwell whom he helped to a Champion’s League place last season. Before that he played for Kilmarnock. He started his career playing for home town team Trim Celtic before moving to Belvedere in Dublin. His senior career started with Milwall but he failed to make a first team appearance, before moving to Scotland he played on loan with Walton & Hersham, Weymouth and Fisher Athletic. He has been capped at under 19 level.

Eoin Doyle (Born 12 March 1988 in Dublin)

Doyle is a striker with Hibs whom he joined from Sligo Rovers in January 2012. He was manager Pat Fenlon’s first signing for the club, and helped Hibs to last year’s Scottish Cup Final where he made an appearance from the substitute’s bench. Doyle also played for Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne in the League of Ireland. To date he has played 14 times for Hibs and scored three goals.

Alan Maybury (Born 8 August 1978 in Dublin)

Maybury is a right back, currently doing pre-season training with Hibs, for whom he came on as a substitute in the friendly against East Fife.  His senior career started with Leeds United in 1995, and he spent 6 years at Elland Road, making 14 appearances. During that time he had loan spells with Reading and Crewe Alexandra before signing for Hearts. He made 112 appearances for the Tynecastle side before following manager Craig Levein to Leicester City. After three years he returned to Scotland, joining Aberdeen on loan before accepting a deal with Colchester United. In 2010 he joined St Johnstone and played 47 games over the following two seasons. He is currently out of contract, and Pat Fenlon is hopeful that funds can be found to secure his move to Easter Road. He has won ten international caps.

Aaron Doran (Born 13 May 1991 in Cork)

Doran is a right winger with Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He started his senior career with Blackburn Roves under Paul Ince and was described as a tremendous prospect, playing in pre-season games, but failed to make the grade and spent time on loan with MK Dons and Leyton Orient. He signed for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in January 2011 and to date had played 21 times scoring three goals. He has three under 21 caps.

Richie Foran (Born 16 June 1980 in Dublin)

Foran is a winger / striker with Inverness Caledonian Thistle having joined from Southend United in 2009. He previously spent three years with Motherwell and also played for Carlisle United as well as Darlington and Oxford United on loan. In Ireland, he played with St Patricks Athletic, Shelbourne and Home Farm on loan. To date he has played 115 times for ICT scoring 26 goals. He is an under 21 internationalist and has played nearly 350 games in the UK during an 11 year career.

Paul Heffernan (Born 29 December 1981 in Wicklow)

Heffernan is a striker who currently plays for Kilmarnock for whom he signed after being released by Sheffield Wednesday. He started his senior career with Notts County, scoring 35 goals in 100 games. He has also played for both Bristol clubs; Doncaster Rovers and Oldham Athletic in a thirteen year career which has seen him play over 300 times, scoring 94 goals. Last season with Kilmarnock, he scored 11 times in 29 games and has become a fans favourite at Rugby Park.

Darren Randolph (Born 12 May 1987 in Wicklow)

Randolph is a goalkeeper with Motherwell. He started his senior career with Charlton Athletic, making 14 appearances in six years. He also played for a number of clubs on loan including Welling United, Accrington Stanley, Gillingham, Bury and Hereford United before signing for the Steelmen in 2010. Since then, he has established himself as the clubs first choice keeper, making 75 appearances. He has ten under 21 caps and played as a ‘B’ internationalist. He has recently featured in Giovanni Trapattoni’s full squad.

Kurtis Byrne (Born 9 April 1990 in Dublin)

Byrne is a striker with Ross County.  He started his senior career with Norwich City before joining Hibs in 2007. He played in the double winning Hibs under 19 team and had spells on loan with Stirling Albion, East Fife and Alloa Athletic, before being released. His time at Easter Road coincided with Hibs having an abundance of forwards including Anthony Stokes, Derek Riordan, Colin Nish and Benji, limiting his chances. In 2011 he was snapped up by Ross County and has scored two goals in thirteen starts.

David Van Zanten (Born 8 May 1982 in Dublin)

Van Zanten is a right back currently on his second spell with St Mirren for whom he has played a total of 229 games, scoring seven goals. He joined the Paisley club in 2010 after short spells with Morton and Hamilton. Prior to that, he played 30 games for Hibs. He started his senior career with Celtic but failed to make the grade at Parkhead after signing form Tolka Rovers.

Jim Goodwin (Born 20 November 1981 in Waterford)

Goodwin is a midfield player with St Mirren. He started his senior career with Celtic for whom he made one appearance before being released in 2002. He then eight spent years in England, starting with Stockport County, then Scunthorpe, Huddersfield Town and Oldham, before crossing the border to sign for Hamilton. After a season at New Douglas Park, he signed for St Mirren and was appointed club captain. Earlier this year he was linked with Hibs, but chose to sign a new contract with The Buddies. He has played 48 times for St Mirren, scoring one goal. Goodwin has represented the Republic of Ireland at international level being capped at Under-16, Under 21, B level and at full international level.

Graham Carey (Born 20 August 1989 in Dublin)

Carey is a left sided attacking midfielder with St Mirren. He signed for Celtic from Shelbourne in 2005 and spent six years at Parkhead, playing one game. During his time there, he was loaned out to Bohemians, St Mirren and Huddersfield before being freed last year. Last season he scored two goals in 29 games for St Mirren. He has six under 21 caps.

Gavin Gunning (Born 26 January 1991 in Dublin)

A lot has been expected of the former Crumlin United star who joined Blackburn Rovers in 2008. After a number of loan spells including a stint at Motherwell the 7 times capped under 21 international was snapped up by Peter Houston’s side. He has gone on to solidify his standing with the Tannadice faithful making 28 appearances and scoring 2 goals to date.

Paddy Barrett (Born 22 July 1993 in Waterford)

Barrett is the sixth and final member of the Irish contingent at Tannadice. The 18 year old hasn’t made an appearance for the Arabs yet but he is expected to make the breakthrough this term.

Hibs and Celtic legend Joe McBride seriously ill

Football fans throughout Scotland have united in sending their best wishes to legendary goal scorer Joe McBride who is seriously ill in hospital after suffering a stroke.

The 74-year-old played for Kilmarnock, Wolves, Motherwell, Celtic, Hibs, Dunfermline and Clyde in a career lasting 15 years between 1957 and 1972.  During that time he was a prolific goal scorer, netting  226 goals in 382 league games.

He was part of the Lisbon Lions squad although a serious injury stopped him appearing the European Cup Final victory over Inter Milan.

Joe was taken to hospital on Saturday, after suffering a stroke, and rumours swept the country that he had passed away, however his granddaughter, Jessica, took to Twitter yesterday to tell worried fans he was still battling.

She tweeted: “Just to clear up, my grampa is still fighting, the family appreciate the support. The family have been reading them all; my grampa is a very loved man.”

Joe was born just yards from Ibrox Stadium, and signed for Kilmarnock when he was 15, before his performances came to the attention of top English club Wolves who paid £12, 500, a considerable fee in those days, for his services.

He didn’t settle in the Midlands and returned to his homeland to sign for Motherwell where was the  club’s top scorer in three successive seasons.

McBride was then signed by Jock Stein for £22,000 in 1965. He became a prolific scorer for the Parkhead side, and the following season, he topped the scoring charts alongside a certain Alex Ferguson who was playing with Dunfermline at the time.

Injury dogged his time with Celtic and in 1968, he signed for Hibs, replacing Colin Stein who had signed for Rangers for a record breaking £100,000.

Joe immediately became a fans favourite with Hibs, scoring on his debut, against Rangers, a hat-trick in his second match, against Lokomotive Leipzig, and four goals in his third match, against Morton.

Later that season, he scored two against Celtic in a match long remembered  and  talked about in Leith. One of the goals that day is often quoted amongst the finest ever scored at Easter Road.

He was Hibs’ top goal-scorer in both the 1968–69 and 1969–70 seasons, and scored a second European hat-trick for Hibs, against Malmö FF in the Inter City Fairs Cup.

Joe  left Hibs in 1971, after scoring 58 goals in 91 games, and had short spells with Dunfermline and Clyde.

Amazingly, he only won two caps for Scotland, both in 1967 British Home Championship matches against Wales and Ireland, and also scored eight goals in just four appearances for the Scottish League XI.

His son, also called Joe joined Hibs from Everton and became a favourite with the supporters for his style of play and his free kick ability.

Both father and son were in the Hibs end at Hampden earlier this year, hoping to see the club finally win the Scottish Cup. En route to Hampden, both were greeted warmly by the Hibs fans who remembered the contribution both had made.

A number of fans forums, including the Rangers ‘Follow Follow’ site have messages of goodwill to the big striker who was loved wherever he played.

On Hibs Net, contributor ‘Ray in Ireland ‘said; “He was one of the most natural finishers I’ve seen. His first against Celtic that day was testimony to that when he swivelled around to hit a ball, not far off shoulder height, past Simpson and in to the roof of the net. He berated Arthur Duncan after he had gotten his two goals after Nijinsky blasted a ball wildly over from an acute angle, when a simple square ball would have given Joe his hat trick against his former side. It shows us the esteem he is held in as every single post on follow follow wishes him well.

Stanton’s Angel said: “So sorry to hear Joe is not too well, I’m sure all Hibbies that remember him will wish him well. A great player brought in to replace the idol of the fans Colin Stein, whose flair and strike rate soon made us forget about Steins trip along the M8. A really brilliant centre forward in the old fashioned mould and a true gentleman too. A much loved young friend of mine idolised the man and will be sad to hear he is ill. Get well soon Joe! Xx

A Hibs spokesman said:  “Everyone at Hibs wishes Joe a full and speedy recovery and we all look forward to seeing him back at Easter Road in the near future.”

Hibs Sign James McPake On Two Year Deal

At last, the news that all Hibs fans have been waiting for, James McPake has signed a two year contract with the club, and will be starting pre-season training on Monday at East Mains.

The 28 year old centre half spent four months with the Easter Road club last season, after signing on loan from Coventry City during the January transfer window. He was immediately installed as captain against Rangers at Ibrox, but his day ended with a debatable red card as Hibs eventually lost 4-0.

After returning to the team, McPake recorded 15 appearances, captaining the team in every match, and displaying the leadership qualities which were much lacking in the squad. His performances made him a firm favourite amongst the supporters who have inundated forums demanding that the club pull out all the stops to get him back. His last match was the cup final defeat to Hearts, during which he scored the only Hibs goal and was one of the few players who received pass marks that day.

Rumours that he would attend yesterday’s home strip launch proved incorrect, leaving many fans worried that the proposed move may not take place, but their fears were unfounded as he put pen to paper earlier today.

McPake hails from Bellshill near Glasgow and started his professional career with Livingston, chalking up 100 appearances and scoring six goals. He was made club captain under former Hibs coach Mark Proctor, and the West Lothian club valued him highly, turning down bids from Plymouth Argyle and St Mirren.

In 2009 he moved south to Coventry City where he scored once in 38 starts before a serious back injury which required surgery curtailed his career.

After his successful loan spell with Hibs last season, McPake received an unexpected call up by former  Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O’NeiLl for Northern Ireland’s friendly against the Netherlands. Despite the 6-0 defeat, McPake’s performance at the heart of the defence received positive comments.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon was delighted with the capture and told Hibs TV: “It’s absolutely fantastic that we’ve been able to bring James back to the club on a permanent basis. We have had to be patient and persistent but all the work has been worthwhile.

“Every team needs a strong leader and James is my captain – he leads by example and sets himself high standards.

“He made a really positive impact during his loan spell and moving forward he will play a major role in the on-going development of the club over the next few seasons.

“At the core of every successful team are strong-minded competitors and James will also help to bring on the younger players in the squad.

“With the arrivals of Tim and now James, we have started to make good progress towards rebuilding the squad and bringing in the right characters.

“There is much more to be done and we will keep working away trying to secure our other targets.”

McPake says he is delighted to be heading back to Easter Road, and shortly after signing, he posted a ‘Welcome to Edinburgh – this is home’ photograph via twitter, delighting his many followers.

McPake said: “It’s an honour to play for Hibs again. From day one, I felt at home at the club and I developed a special relationship with the supporters.

“I’m excited to be part of what will be a new-look Hibernian team and I’m looking forward to playing my part in bringing success back to this football club.”

McPake is Fenlon’s second close season signing following the capture of Irish defender Tim Clancy from Motherwell.

The Downfall of Rangers Part 3

Now that the vote against a Rangers newco being admitted into the SPL next season is a formality John Hislop looks at the implications for the remaining clubs.

There is no doubt that this is a problem many SPL chairmen could have done without. A successful Rangers bring a healthy support at least once per season, and sometimes twice, whilst the Sky TV deal which plays a significant in most teams overall budget is dependent on four competitive old firm clashes every year. Without these two sources of income, many pundits predicted that clubs would go to the wall. On the other hand, their own supporters have withheld renewing season tickets and are threatening boycotts should Rangers punishment be deemed insufficient.

Hibs supporters at least are confident that their club will prosper without Rangers, and the possible revenue loss will be made up by cost cutting, an unexpected transfer bonus and additional pay at the gate fans should they start well.

Hibs have sold in the region of 7,000 season tickets for the coming season at an average cost of £228, bringing in an income of just under £1.6m. This number is down from last year after 2000 fans failed to renew. Some new fans bought season tickets to ensure that they were able to attend the cup final, but this number has not made up for the deficit.

With only one home game this term against Celtic, unless Pat Fenlon can win a place in the top six, the board would normally expect at least two home fixtures against Rangers.

When either half of the old firm visit Easter Road, the away end which holds 3800 is normally sold out. With tickets costing £28 each, these games bring in over £100k in revenue.

Whoever replaces Rangers will probably bring less than a quarter of that number, with tickets costing £22, bringing in only £20k, a shortfall over the season of £160k. Take stewarding and policing costs into account and a figure of £150 is more realistic.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a lot of money, director Fife Hyland has left the club saving a reported £80k, and  Hibs have received £70k following a sell on clause for defender Sol Bamba who joined Turkish side Trabzonspor from Leicester City, covering the cost totally..

The Sky money is paid based on the final position of each team at the end of the season, rather than on the number of times they appear. Last year, Hibs were third, behind the old firm in the number of times they appeared on television, yet they received the second lowest payment due to their 11th place finish. The changes in kick off times also mean less home supporters attending, again dropping the revenue. Last season’s payment was believed to be under £1m.

The satellite broadcaster which, together with ESPN, is three years into a £65million five-year deal, with an improved £80m five-year deal, to supersede the existing agreement, which remains unsigned and, barring a remarkable turn of events, looks likely to remain so.

Sky however has claimed that they will continue to support Scottish football, which could include a separate agreement to screen Rangers games in a lower division.

The jewel in the crown for Sky and ESPN is the four old firm games, and without that guarantee, at the very least, the broadcasters will be looking to negotiate, meaning less money being available.

In an effort to combat this, discussions are also on-going regarding a two legged Glasgow Cup final which would allow two competitive old firm fixtures with the possibility for up to three more, depending on League and Scottish Cup draws.

If the payment criteria remain the same, a top six place would make up any difference to the budget, so the pressure is on Pat Fenlon to deliver a team capable of finishing in the top six and also playing a brand of football which attracts more pay at the gate supporters.

Despite the projected drop in finance however, Hibs fans are united in their determination to see an SPL without a Rangers representative.  Polls on the fan’s forum websites, Hibs Net and Hibees Bounce revealed that over 99% of fans wanted Rod Petrie to vote no. This figure is replicated on other club’s sites.

It’s not all doom and gloom at Easter Road however, as fans point out that a winning Hibs team playing attractive football would attract a sizeable increase in the average attendance which would more than cover any losses.

When the club played in the first division, after being relegated in 1998, more Hibs fans attended the games that they did last season, with more that fourteen thousand against Raith Rovers and Falkirk over the festive period. The cup final proved that the fans are there of the product is right, and now could be the time for Hibs to regain their place at the top end of the SPL.

Some other clubs are not so fortunate and without the Rangers income, there is a real possibility that they could go the wall. Motherwell, who have agreed to allow their supporters to vote have issued a statement suggesting that administration is a possibility whichever way the vote goes. In a guidance document sent to fans, the club stated: “”The board is of the view that whatever decision is made on the newco vote by the SPL clubs, the financial position of Motherwell Football Club will suffer. On a purely financial basis, a ‘Yes’ vote would likely preserve commercial revenues, however the impact on gate receipts is unclear.

“The risks presented by a ‘No’ vote are slightly easier to quantify insofar as gate receipts are concerned, but even then are extremely uncertain given we do not yet know what the SPL commercial partners will decide. There are clear risks to the financial stability and very future of this club presented by the current situation.”

This also applies to Kilmarnock, whose chairman Michael Johnson initially indicated that he would vote for the newco purely for financial reasons; however he has now also agreed to consult the fans and take their feelings into consideration.

St Johnstone also confirmed they will pay a financial penalty but insisted they were left with no moral alternative. A club statement read: “The economic climate has made it extremely difficult for anyone involved in football and any reduction in income will have a serious impact on this football club, but the board believes that sporting integrity should not be sacrificed in favour of economic expediency.”

At the moment, the media are reporting that the governing bodies have verbally agreed to allow a newco Rangers into the First Division next season; however certain SFL clubs have already registered their protest.

Falkirk chairman Martin Ritchie issued a statement opposing a Rangers newco: “The board at Falkirk FC strongly believe the current turmoil should be a catalyst for change in Scottish football. League reconstruction, First Division play-offs, a fairer distribution of the game’s wealth and the ending of undemocratic voting systems should be the minimal levels of change. It would be totally unacceptable if a Rangers newco were admitted to the First Division on the current rules. Even a weakened Rangers newco would have resources that far outstripped all the other First Division clubs and this would pretty much guarantee them promotion before the season even starts.”

A statement from Raith Rovers’ board read: “Raith Rovers FC continues to closely monitor developments in the saga of who will replace the liquidated Rangers within Scottish football. As proud members of the Scottish Football League, we may soon be called upon to consider proposals for the way forward not only in relation to any vacancy that may arise in our league but also in respect of the future construction of the game in Scotland. Whilst we retain an open mind on the subject of league reconstruction, and will carefully consider any proposal put to us by the SFL board in this regard, the board of directors of Raith Rovers FC is unanimous in its view that we shall certainly not cast our vote in favour of any integrated plan that in our view compromises sporting integrity by involving the admission of any ‘Newco’ directly into Division One.”

Meanwhile there was more bad news for Charles Green when Steve David and Alan McGregor joined Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith by refusing to sign for the newco, leaving only Lee Wallace and Lee McCulloch committed to playing at Ibrox next season. Green has threatened any club signing these players that he will demand compensation through the courts.

Whatever the future holds for Rangers and Scottish football, this story has a long way to run.