Gilmour denies helping Rangers

Wolves have lost their bid to have Jamie O’Hara’s three-game ban

reduced after their appeal was rejected by the Football

Association.

O’Hara, who was sent off during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to

Huddersfield, will miss Tuesday night’s game against Hull City

followed by the clashes with Charlton and Burnley.

The midfielder reacted angrily to a challenge from Terriers

substitute Keith Southern and subsequently pushed him, leading to

his dismissal.

Wolves had accepted the decision itself but were unhappy with

the mandatory three-match ban and asked the FA for leniency in the

matter.

Under FA rules a club may appeal the severity of a suspension if

they feel there are extenuating circumstances, but in this instance

the FA decided to reject the appeal and O’Hara will have to serve

the full three-game ban.

Delph’s girlfriend Natalie is due to give birth early next month

and he is desperate to be present when the baby arrives.

But the 23-year-old former Leeds player, who scored an own goal

in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Fulham, has also stressed the

importance of keeping himself available for Villa at the moment –

something he is ready to prioritise if necessary.

“We have spoken about it and we know it’s a possibility,” Delph

told the club’s official website.

“It could happen as one of the games is about to go on. But this

is a crucial part of the season and if I’m down to play in the

games, I need to be playing.

“Natalie appreciates the situation and is 100% behind me.

“I want to see my baby being born and hope it happens. Ideally,

it will happen on a Wednesday.”

Villa are currently 17th in the table with five matches left to

play, three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan, who have two games

in hand over them.

After losing the likes of Clint Dempsey, Mousa Dembele and Danny

Murphy last year, there again looks set to be another high turnover

of midfielders at Craven Cottage.

Giorgos Karagounis, Mahamadou Diarra, Chris Baird and Simon

Davies have all yet to extend their contracts past the end of the

season.

The on-loan quartet of Urby Emanuelson, Emmanuel Frimpong,

Stanislav Manolev and Eyong Enoh also see their stays expire in the

summer, although Fulham have an option to make the latter duo’s

moves permanent.

Jol has some tough decisions to make over the coming months in

regards to those players and knows new midfielders need to arrive

ahead of the new campaign.

“If you look at the defence, I think we are fine,” the Dutchman

said.

“If you look at the midfield, I think Steve Sidwell is probably

the only one left if you think of all the players we had six or

seven months ago. We have to do something.

“Up front, Mladen Petric we will talk to him as he is on a

one-year deal [which expires]..

“Sascha Riether we have an option in his loan [to make it

permanent] and we will probably take that.

“For the rest, I don’t see any problem but in midfield we can do

something because there is only one or two left.

“Karagounis is also on a one-year deal so Sidwell is probably

the only one who is on a long-term contract.”

As well as shoring up his midfield, Jol wants to bring in a new

goalkeeper.

Regular number one Mark Schwarzer has yet to sign a new deal

past the summer and understudy David Stockdale, currently on loan

at Hull, is frustrated at a lack of opportunities in west

London.

“Mark Schwarzer is for us almost a hero,” said Jol, who also

today played down of a move for Athletic Bilbao defender Fernando

Amorebieta.

“He saves games for us so I would like him to stay but we are

looking for a goalkeeper.

“Neil Etheridge is young and has no experience. He will go on

loan, 100 per cent, to gain experience to be the number one in the

future.

“We have Csaba Somogyi, who was man-of-the-match four times out

of the last six games at Dartford, but we still look for a

goalkeeper.

“We are looking for a good goalkeeper so if Mark decides to stay

I have two good goalkeepers, plus Stockdale because he is still

there. I have to talk to him.”

While next season is not far from his mind, Jol’s immediate

attention is on tomorrow’s derby clash with Chelsea.

The Cottagers have a miserable record against their west London

neighbours, winning just one of 23 Premier League clashes, but

could be playing them at a good time given the Blues’ hectic

fixture schedule.

“I am not sure,” Jol said about the timing. “Sometimes you have

the rhythm, which gives you the advantage.

“We played on Saturday, we will play again Wednesday and then

against Arsenal.

“It is about legs so it depends on who is playing. If they play

the same team, that probably could help us.

“If not, they are big enough as a squad to play four or five

different players and I think they probably will.”

The Paisley chief yesterday joined with Ross County chairman Roy

MacGregor to vote down Scottish Premier League plans for a new

12-12-18 set-up.

That led to on-line rumours that Gilmour had acted on behalf of

the Ibrox club after welcoming their chief executive Charles Green

to St Mirren Park for the Buddies’ clash with Celtic last

month.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne, meanwhile, suggested Gilmour

had an “agenda” behind his decision to vote against the proposals,

while Hearts chief executive David Southern suggested St Mirren

concerns on voting structures were a “smokescreen to protect other

people’s interests”.

But Gilmour told Press Association Sport: “These rumours sound

like a conspiracy theory. Any club official who would suggest such

a thing, we would look at it legally because it is absolutely

slanderous.

“The St Mirren board are only interested in what is in the best

interests of St Mirren Football Club and that will always be the

case.”

Had the plans for the new league structure gone through, Rangers

would have remained in the basement league, despite winning the

Third Division with five games to spare.

But with talks on reconstruction having now seemingly hit the

buffers, the fallen Glasgow giants will instead be promoted to the

third-tier Second Division.

Gilmour – who, along with fellow boardroom members, persuaded

Saints shareholders to axe club director Ken McGeoch following

revelations about alleged links to former Rangers owner Craig Whyte

– insisted he was looking out for all of Scotland’s senior clubs

when he voted against the plans over concerns about fan backing for

the new set-up and the 11-1 voting structure.

Asked about the Rangers rumours, he said: “It’s ridiculous. This

is a club that voted Rangers into Division Three, voted a director

off our board because of alleged links to Rangers.

“We are also a supporter of a 42-team solution for Scottish

football, not an SPL2, and that would therefore have no short-cut

for Rangers back to the top-flight, so where somebody would get the

idea that we were doing this to help Rangers is beyond me.

“I would add that Charles Green did attend a game at St Mirren

Park but like any director, chairman or manager from any football

club, when they make a request for tickets by email, they are shown

the same hospitality by the club as any other representative.

“During Mr Green’s visit, there was no discussion about league

reconstruction. In fact, the only thing we did speak about was

agents, players wages, etc.”