Brown promises maximum commitment

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.”