Soccer Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni talks UEFA Cup and James McClean
No Rangers Mercy
CELTIC manager Neil Lennon wants the Scottish authorities to throw the rule book at crisis club Rangers – even if it means a temporary end to the Old Firm derby.
Lennon’s team won the final derby match of the season, and possibly the last for some time, 3-0 on Sunday.
Rangers boss Ally McCoist suggested afterwards that the club might be allowed some leniency by the Scottish FA, which could remove them from the Premier division in light of their financial woes.
But Lennon sees no need to be lenient. “If you break the rules, you must pay the price. There is an issue of sporting integrity and moral sporting integrity as well,” he said.
“I understand Ally’s point to a certain extent, but if you have flouted the laws in the capacity that they have, then the powers-that-be will punish you accordingly.
“If you break the rules then you should expect to be punished. But you are talking hypothetically here. It is not my place to talk about Rangers, it’s not my place to talk about the outcome of whatever sanctions they are going to get.
“I will leave that to other people and cross that bridge when I come to it.”
Title winning boss Lennon also hit back at those who claimed their title win was “devalued and tainted” by the problems at Rangers.
He said, “The only way it is tainted is if you have won it and you cheated to win it, and we have done nothing wrong. We have played the best football and scored the most goals, conceded the least goals and have the best disciplinary record in the league so we are worthy champions.”
Striker Gary Hooper has confirmed he wants to stay with Celtic and play in the Champions League next season despite strong interest in his services from Premier League newcomers Southampton and Reading.
“There are always rumors about that,” said Hooper. “But I have two years left on my contract, I am scoring goals and I am loving my football.
“There is a big chance for us to play Champions League football next season and that has been a personal ambition of mine for a long time.
“I loved playing in the Europa League this season and I think the game away to Udinese is one of the highlights of my career. I would love the chance to sample the Champions League now.”
Hooper scored in the 3-0 win over Rangers on Sunday and added, “I am happy playing for Celtic and the derby game just underlined that.
“The crowd, the atmosphere, the feeling when you score at Celtic Park -- I think it is amazing.”
Charlie Mulgrew was named Celtic’s player of the year hours after heading the opening goal against Rangers.
SLIGO Rovers maintained their unbeaten run in the Airtricity League with a 1-1 draw at home to Sligo Rovers on Friday night while Shamrock Rovers’ poor form continued with a 1-1 draw against Derry in Tallaght.
Cork City won 2-1 at Shelbourne, Bray recorded a 1-0 win in Monaghan, Bohs recorded a 2-0 win in Dundalk and Drogheda drew 1-1 at UCD.
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