Scottish Premier League

Hibs boss eyes three points

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Fri, 17 May 2013 20:10:00

Coventry have confirmed they will definitely not be returning to the Ricoh Arena next season.

Chief executive Tim Fisher has revealed the club are instead in the process of securing a site in the local area on which to build a new stadium.

Fisher says that whilst the new ground is being constructed, they will groundshare with another club, with their plans to be presented to the Football League at the start of June.

The move comes following a year-long rent row with Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council.

Fisher said: "It's a new era and we retained specialists some months ago to advise us on where to build a new stadium for the club - and in the immediate Coventry area by the way".

City claim they did not want to leave the Ricoh but they had to make the move because "the doors locked on us".

In a statement of their own on Thursday, ACL said "our doors remain open to the Sky Blues".

But asked if there is any chance of Coventry playing at the Ricoh Arena next season, Fisher replied: "None.

"People have to understand we do not posture, we do not threaten, because that is not how you do business, you only do business in good faith. Always.

"We have started the process of procuring land so that we can shift the new stadium build forward at a pace. The stadium will be in the Coventry area in accordance with Football League rules."

Fisher added: "We have left the Ricoh Arena.

"We were told categorically by ACL and by the council that there was no commercial deal to be done and in actual fact they would only ever work with the administrator.

"We were very, very clear in our minds as to exactly what was intended. Given the position we have had to make contingency plans to fulfil our fixtures on an interim basis - while we deliver the long-term vision.

"That long-term vision has us playing in the Coventry area in a new stadium that will be designed and delivered in three years.

"All this will be in full consultation with the fans - starting with the upcoming forums. In consideration of financial fair play then we will own all the revenue streams that come from matchday and, non-matchday activities, and therefore we will have every chance of becoming a solid, vibrant club."

Ferdinand, who has spent over a decade at United under Sir Alex Ferguson, has not yet agreed an extension on his current deal that runs out this summer.

And the 34-year-old, who won his sixth Premier League title this season, announced on Wednesday he was retiring from England duty in order to concentrate on club matters.

And United boss Ferguson said: "I think it is something he could have done last year.

"Ending his international career will definitely help him, as it did with Paul Scholes, and hopefully Manchester United will get the benefit of that."

But Fotheringham will be in no mood to do Inverness a favour on Sunday.

County will stop Caley Thistle qualifying for the Europa League if they win or draw and St Johnstone beat Motherwell.

But the rivalry on the pitch will not extend beyond those confines.

And, for a player who began his career at Celtic, Fotheringham welcomes the mutual respect.

Fotheringham said: "I was in the gym the other day having a stretch on our day off and I bumped into one of the Inverness guys and I was up shaking his hand. It's nice to see the lads.

"It's not like that type of atmosphere when I was a kid at Celtic and I had to hide in the bottom of a taxi and had my green colours on coming home from a game and there was an Orange walk.

"It's nothing like that, up here it's all about the good, friendly atmosphere.

"When the whistle blows, we are competitive guys so we are going out there to win the game and that's the only thing on our minds."

Fotheringham added: "We know it's a derby and you have got to go out and win for the bragging rights for the fans.

"We are just glad both teams are doing well for the Highlands. It's good for this part of Scotland."

County have not beaten Inverness this season in five games but Fotheringham has no inferiority complex, especially with both games at the Global Energy Stadium ending in draws.

"We are not too bothered about records because in the games so far we have given a really good account of ourselves," he said.

"But the main thing is to get points on the board and we want to win the game and finish the season on a high."

Lennon's Scottish Communities League Cup-winning squad will be together for the final time when they take on Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Lennon this week told striker Sam Parkin and midfielder Graham Carey they would not be offered new deals and he advised four contracted players to find new clubs.

Loan players Paul Dummett, Conor Newton and Esmael Goncalves are due to return to their parent clubs while goalkeeper Craig Samson has rejected an offer amid interest from Motherwell and Kilmarnock and playmaker Paul McGowan is keen on a switch to England.

Lennon said: "This is a difficult stage of the season for any manager and it's inevitable that players that you want to stay are going to go and arguably go on to better things, and there are players that want to stay but have to go.

"And there are players out there that we have identified that we want to bring in and will try to get business done sooner rather than later.

"But the group of players we have had here, it's a remarkable achievement what they have done.

"Their season is going to be remembered for winning the League Cup for the first time in the club's history and every single one of them that go out the door will go out with their heads held high, and they will be remembered at this football club for the rest of their days."

Lennon admitted he found it hard to tell players their services were no longer required.

"It's never an easy part and it's a part of the job that you don't like," he said.

"But you have got to be honest and be true to yourself and do what you feel is the best for your football club.

"And for these players that do go, we wish them and their families well.

"I've had conversations with players who are still under contract and laid it on the table to them where they stand.

"And I'm sure they are ambitious and want to go out and play.

"A club our size can't afford to carry that and it's important the club, the players and their representatives work close in hand to try to achieve that outcome."

The Northern Ireland international signed a two-year contract extension ahead of Aberdeen's final Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hearts tomorrow, having hit 21 goals in his first season at Pittodrie.

The 25-year-old has thrived in a central striker role after being converted from a wide midfielder and wants to keep on enjoying his football under recently-appointed manager Derek McInnes.

McGinn said on the club's official website: "It was a very easy decision for me to make.

"Things have been brilliant for me personally this season and I want to build on that. I very much like the thoughts of the new manager and I think there are exciting times ahead for the squad and for everyone involved with Aberdeen Football Club.

"This has been my best ever season as a professional player. I have loved playing through the middle and scoring all the goals I have done.

"I do of course have to say a big thanks to the previous manager, Craig Brown, for playing me there and for making that possible.

"Derek wanted to sign me before at a previous club and made it very clear I was very much part of his future plans which obviously played a part in my decision.

"I want to have days out at Hampden and win trophies. Maybe if a few more results had gone our way this season then we could have done that, but I am confident about next season because of the work the manager has been doing.

"It will not be easy and there is still a lot more hard work ahead of us but there is much to be optimistic about.

"Hopefully we can finish off tomorrow with a win and three points then go and enjoy the summer. Everyone in the dressing room is really looking forward to next season already."

The former Celtic player added: "Since the first day I walked into the club the fans have been tremendous towards me. The reception I get from them at the home and away games is fantastic.

"They are very supportive to me away from the pitch as well. I really appreciate it and one of the reasons I wanted to stay at the club."

McInnes, who released seven first-team players this week, believes the move will help attract new players to the Dons.

McInnes, who is unbeaten in his four games in charge, said: "Niall signing was very important for a lot of reasons. It is a very strong statement, not only for the players who are here and the supporters but for any potential signings.

"Niall has experienced a good season here and it shows other players that this is a good place to be. It sends out the right message.

"There is a lot to be said for being professionally happy. That does not always happen in your career. He has found a home here.

"It is a bold statement and I know it has boosted the players in the dressing room. You could see that at training this morning.

"I must add that Niall and his representative were very easy to deal with. There were no excessive demands and we managed to get everything agreed and signed very quickly.

"Niall is very settled, he is happy and was very keen to get it done.

"We will make other signings over the summer but getting Niall was pivotal to everything.

"We did not want to go through a full season knowing that Niall could be leaving.

"That would have been very unsettling for the player and the club. He can now just concentrate on his football."

It has long been a claim of many Manchester City supporters that their club has the majority fan base, with a massive percentage of Old Trafford regulars coming in from much further afield.

Van Persie did not get that impression on United's open-top bus as it made its way from Old Trafford to the centre of town, where it was greeted by huge crowds along the main Deansgate shopping area and into Albert Square.

"I spoke to Nigel de Jong a couple of years ago when he was playing for City," Van Persie told MUTV.

"He said in Manchester there were only City fans and United's come from different cities all over the world.

"It sounded a bit weird. I have to adjust him on that now and say it is definitely not true.

"It is at least 50-50, or, after last Monday, maybe it is 80-20."

Van Persie's last silverware came back in 2005 when he was a substitute in Arsenal's FA Cup final triumph over United in Cardiff.

And, after playing a key part in United's 20th title triumph, the 29-year-old certainly will not forget Monday in a hurry.

"It just came out of nowhere," he said.

"There were more and more people appearing as the tour went on.

"I saw people on roofs, on balconies, on traffic lights. They were absolutely everywhere.

"There is one picture of people of so many people hanging out of a building.

"I had a lot of nice pictures before but there was one thing missing.

"Now I have some with the trophy and fans. We couldn't wish for more."

Providing Gareth Bale does not smash the Premier League record for goals in a game, Van Persie will also claim the Golden Boot prize for the second season running.

It will be the perfect way to end his debut campaign, having arrived from Arsenal on a mission to steer United back to the top.

"I do remember speaking about number 20 and that I wanted to win it for the club," he said.

"To be able to achieve it is incredible because no other club has done that before.

"It has been an amazing season and we are deserving champions."

But he is focused on securing one final thrill by beating neighbours Ross County in Dingwall, a result that would guarantee a first season in Europe for the Highland side.

Third-placed Caley Thistle have a one-point, and six-goal, lead over St Johnstone ahead of the final Clydesdale Bank Premier League game of the season.

But Butcher is urging his men not to think of Europe and to concentrate on the dynamics of their Highland derby.

Butcher said: "The boys are up for it. It's been fierce in training, a few tackles flying in. Everyone is desperate to get out there and win the game.

"The European thing is a real bonus. It would be the icing on the cake of a special season. It will be extremely special if we win the match and qualify for Europe.

"But we don't really focus on Europe, we are just focusing on doing well in the game itself.

"It's a Highland derby and it does take care of itself. It's one of those games that are extremely keenly-fought, a few battles going on and a few challenges and a high intensity.

"That's the nature of the Highland derby. Both teams can play football if they are allowed to play football.

"The two matches over there have been one extreme to the other, a six-goal thriller and a goalless draw. Maybe this will be something in the middle.

"It's tailor-made for a cracking end to the season. No matter the result, both clubs can celebrate having fantastic seasons and both clubs can come out as winners."

County's hopes of making Sunday a potential European decider ended with a 2-0 defeat at Motherwell on Sunday but Butcher believes the game can still be a celebration for both clubs.

"Our aim at the start of the season was to finish above Ross County," Butcher said. "We are going to do that. If we finished above them we couldn't get relegated.

"I don't think either club could have foreseen such a wonderful season with some wonderful football too."

The Dark Blues, who could be handed a top-flight reprieve when the SPL meets on Monday to discuss whether Hearts have fallen foul of rules regarding the apparent insolvency of owners UBIG, lost their battle to stay up two weeks ago.

But Brown insists his side are not about to treat their trip to Easter Road as a meaningless end-of-season encounter.

Brown said: "We want to win this game as we do every game.

"We aren't in holiday mode or anything like that.

"Just because it's the last day of the season doesn't mean it's one we're not focusing on.

"We're going to give it 100 per cent as usual because that's what I'll be demanding and so will the fans.

"It's always nice to finish the season with a win as it means you go off with a positive vibe.

"That's our aim and we'll go there looking for victory over Hibs."

Brown was disappointed with the manner in which they lost 3-2 at home to Kilmarnock last weekend.

And he hopes his side can use that as motivation to sign off in winning style this weekend.

Brown said: "There were aspects of the Killie game which left us disappointed.

"It was to do with the loss of the goals which is something we had been dealing very well up until then.

"But we've looked at it and hopefully it won't occur at Easter Road.

"There's still pride to play for as well as points.

"With the exception of Kilmarnock, we've been playing really well and want to get back to those levels.

"That should be the motivation for the players.

"They've been brilliant since I came in with their attitude, desire and commitment.

"That won't change as they are an honest bunch of guys.

"They want the best for Dundee and so do I.

"Most of them will stay I hope although some will go. It's all down to budgets at the end of the day.

"But in the meantime we want to finish the campaign well.

"This should be a good, open game as Hibs are playing for Scottish Cup final places and we have to match their eagerness."

Fenlon already knows the vast majority of the side he will charge with lifting the William Hill Scottish Cup for the first time in 111 years against Celtic.

However, with over a week to go until the Hampden showpiece and the likes of Tim Clancy and James McPake doubts through injury, the Irishman has urged his players not to blow their last chance to force their way into his thinking.

On the back of two successive wins, Fenlon wants another impressive performance against Dundee.

"I would suggest I have the balance of my team in my head and most of it ready to go," he said.

"But you are always mindful that people can get injured and things can happen in games, so you need to be open-minded in that regard.

"We have one or two injuries that we need to keep an eye on and, of course, there is always a chance someone can change things.

"You have seen that over the last few weeks with a few of the younger players coming in and performing really well - and we are looking for that to continue.

"We need people to perform and you never know what that could lead to, if you perform to the best of your levels then things can change during the week."

Ross Caldwell, the match-winner in Sunday's Edinburgh derby, Danny Handling, Jordon Forster and the exceptional Alex Harris, just 18, have been among those who have made an impressive charge to be involved against Celtic.

Fenlon said: "I probably thought, a few months ago, that we would try to get the younger boys a game towards the end of the season. Whether they would be ready to play in a couple final - I probably didn't think so.

"But they have come in and been absolutely fantastic. The four that have made the jump at the moment have done really well and Alex particularly, given the amount of games he has played, has been remarkably consistent.

"Jordon has come in and played really well in a difficult position, while Danny and Caldwell have been fantastic in contributing bits and pieces.

"I have no problem throwing any of the young lads in (for the cup final). We threw them into Tynecastle and that is a hard place to play and they performed really really well."

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