Fenlon wants league talks delayed

BY foxsports • April 12, 2013

Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana has signed a new five-year deal that will keep him at St Mary's until 2018.

The 24-year-old Saints captain, who joined the club's academy in 2006, put pen to paper on a contract on Thursday evening.

Lallana is the fifth Southampton player to commit his future to the club after Kelvin Davis, Rickie Lambert, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jason Puncheon all signed recent deals.

"I'm absolutely delighted. To commit my future to the club for the next five years is something I'm really happy about," he said.

"I've been at the club since I was 12 and - being honest - I can only see my future lying with Southampton Football Club.

"If someone was to say that I'd end my career playing for Southampton in the Premier League then I'd snap your hand off for it.

"I am privileged and honoured to be given the opportunity to be here for the next five years. It's something I'm going to look to grab with both hands.

"I'm honoured to be playing for Southampton and captaining the club at the present moment. I can't wait to get going and to continue playing for this club."

Manager Mauricio Pochettino expressed his delight at the news, adding: "I'd like to congratulate Adam on his new contract, and I'm happy for all of the supporters because this is really good news.

"We are very pleased that Adam has signed a new five-year contract. He bleeds the colours of this team."

The 12 Scottish Premier League teams are due to hold a vote on plans for 12-12-18 structure on Monday, while the lower league sides from the Scottish Football League will have their say on the following Friday.

But there is already uncertainty on whether the proposals - which also lay out hopes for a combined league body and a fairer share of cash among Scotland's clubs - will get enough backing.

St Mirren say they will vote no in the SPL ballot and, with an 11-1 majority needed, Ross County's doubts could yet cause the scheme to collapse.

In the SFL, meanwhile, a recent informal vote saw the clubs split down the middle on whether or not to proceed with a new set-up next term.

As for Fenlon, he believes league bosses and club chairman have had long enough to sort out the mess.

He told Press Association Sport: "It's dragged on a bit long to be honest. The vote should have been a good while ago to give people time to digest it.

"If it's not going to happen it would have been good to have the time to look at other ways to help the game.

"So the current situation is not ideal but it's where we are. We have to deal with that as clubs and managers.

"I don't know the full process of what went on but if you are making changes I think the decisions should be taken a little bit earlier so they can can make adjustments. Now we are at the tail end of the season, it's not leaving us with a lot of time to prepare."

Fenlon's focus in the short-term, however, is not on league business but on taking care of Irn-Bru First Division side Falkirk in Saturday's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final clash.

The game comes just 11 months after the Edinburgh side's last trip to Hampden Park, when they were humiliated with in a 5-1 cup final defeat to city rivals Hearts.

But the Irishman insists he has not said a word about that derby disaster to his players and will instead tell them to think back to their last-four win over Aberdeen last term if they need inspiration from the past.

He said: "I said after the final last year that there was nothing I could do about the defeat at that point. It was done and dusted.

"My mind is now focused on leading this club to another cup final. That's all I'm thinking about. We just need to go to Hampden and give it our best.

"I haven't spoke to the players about it or anyone else since then. It wasn't nice. We had to take it on the chin and move on.

"If you are looking for a memory to fall back on, then last year's semi-final was a great occasion for us. That is something we want to replicate again and book ourselves another big day out."

Hibs' defeat at Celtic Park last weekend ended hopes of a Clydesdale Bank Premier League top-six place, quite a fall from grace considering they topped the table in November.

But with a trophy still up for grabs, a European slot at stake and the possibility of a seventh-place finish, Fenlon insists the Leith men's season is far from over.

"I believe the team has made big strides this year but that is for other people to judge," said the boss, whose side finished last season second bottom.

"Both on and off the park, there is a genuine better feeling around the club. But there is still a lot to play for - we could reach a cup final, qualify for Europe and finish seventh in the league.

"Given what happened last year, then that would be a big improvement."

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