Kennedy: It almost feels like the end of an era at Celtic
The interim manager says it's time to rebuild at the club.
Interim boss John Kennedy believes Celtic may have come to the end of an era after they ended a dismal season with a goalless draw against Hibernian at Easter Road.
The Parkhead club’s bid to win a 10th successive Premiership title was ended by Old Firm rivals Rangers and they ultimately finished the campaign 25 points behind the new champions, who went all 38 league games unbeaten.
Saturday’s match was skipper Scott Brown’s last game for the Hoops before joining Aberdeen as a player/assistant and others are likely to follow him out of the club.
Kennedy said: “For me it almost feels like the end of an era.
“I have been here through some really good times, successful times when we have been on the crest of a wave.
“This year unfortunately it has not worked out as we would have wished.
“The club captain is leaving, there will be changes in management and at board level.
“There will be a number of players leaving, loan players or whatever it might be.
“It is almost like we draw a line now. You look back and you reflect on what we have achieved over the years.
“You draw that line then it is time to rebuild and then you move on.”
Kennedy, who has been in charge since Neil Lennon resigned in February, is confident of a quick turnaround in fortunes.
The former Celtic defender said: “People look at things in isolation, judge purely on things like points totals. Ultimately football can change very quickly.
“We could have picked up more points in different games this season if things had fallen for us.
“We weren’t quite in our groove, but I have been here long enough to know how football operates.
“You go into next season, start positively and it can take you anywhere.
“That is the ultimate goal for the club – stabilise, get everybody in place we need to get in place, get a good squad and go out and become champions again.”
Kennedy paid tribute to Brown, who had 14 largely-successful seasons at Celtic after signing from Hibs in 2007.
He said: “We always talk about replacing him, but you don’t replace Scott Brown, there are very few in the world like him nowadays in terms of the mentality and the drive every day.
“You see it, the fans see it on match day, we see it every single day.
“That’s the way he is. The way he plays is the way he trains every day.
“He came in as a young player, developed into a fine captain, proper leader. Whether mangers have changed or players have changed, he has always been at the front pulling everyone along.
“That has been a huge part of the club’s success.”
Hibs had already sealed third spot in the league and, with one eye on the Scottish Cup final against St Johnstone next week, manager Jack Ross started the game with a second-string side.
He said: “It was fitting to finish the season that way because we had so many players involved who haven’t played regularly.
“With their contribution on the training pitch and the standards they’ve helped us to keep, it has helped us have a successful season.
“We had to be resilient and work incredibly hard today, but I’m really pleased they got a reward from the game and got a point.
“We are fit and healthy with the numbers we’ve got. There’s a positive feeling around that dressing room that we’ve got to produce next weekend. But in our frame of mind we’re in the best possible place.”
Tartan Army fans gathered in London to celebrate Scotland’s 0-0 draw with England.
Scotland put in a superb performance to earn a draw with England at Wembley on Friday night in their second game of Euro 2020.
A win over Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday should be enough to reach their first ever major tournament knockout stage.
Supporters were out in force in London celebrating the result which keeps Scotland’s Euro 2020 hopes alive.
Red flares were set off as crowds congregated in Leicester Square for the much-anticipated match.
Many fans were wearing kilts and draped in Scotland flags, singing and cheering in the popular tourist spot.
Others kicked footballs and many belted out the Scottish national anthem and chanted “No Scotland, no party”.
The Metropolitan Police said officers entered Leicester Square at about 12.45am and encouraged those still at the scene to leave the area, with the square finally cleared by 1.15am.
A total of 30 people were arrested in central London as part of the policing operation for the Euros clash.
The force added 25 of the arrests were in central London while five people were arrested in the vicinity of Wembley.
Scotland Yard said in a tweet: “13 arrests were for public order offences, six for drunk and disorderly, four for assault on police, three for assault, two related to Class A drugs and one each for breaching a dispersal order and breaching a banning order.”
Meanwhile in Scotland, fans displayed their home support by gathering in Glasgow’s George Square to celebrate the result.
Supporters also gathered at an official Euros fan zone in Glasgow to watch the Auld Enemy clash.
It was the biggest event in the city since the pandemic began despite concerns it could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Up to 6000 people each day – split into two 3000 sessions – have been able to watch Euros matches at Glasgow Green if they have a ticket.
Following the game, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Yes, sir, you all boogied.”
This week, thousands of Scotland fans travelled to London despite warnings they should not go unless they have a match ticket, or a safe place to watch the game.
Wembley only had 25% capacity for the game, and Scotland supporters were not able to access the traditional Trafalgar Square meeting place as it had been reserved as a fan zone for key workers.
The First Minister urged members of the Tartan Army to “please, please, please try to behave in a way that is a safe as possible”.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid briefing on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The virus doesn’t care about football, it is not going to give you a free pass because you are there celebrating a football match.”
Funding of £215m pledged to close schools’ attainment gap
It will see head teachers across the country share £147m in Pupil Equity Funding in 2021-22.
Schools will receive a record £215m funding for efforts to close the poverty attainment gap this year, with the new education secretary saying such work is “more vital than ever” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shirley-Anne Somerville said the cash, the largest sum ever handed out in a single year to tackle the issue, will fund “targeted help” for the most disadvantaged students.
It will see head teachers across the country share £147m in Pupil Equity Funding in 2021-22, with the money going directly to schools for them to determine how best to use it.
In addition, the nine councils with the highest concentrations of deprivation in Scotland – known as Challenge Authorities – will share a further £43m.
Work to help improve the attainment of youngsters who have been in care, including through schemes such as mentoring programmes, will receive up to £12m.
A further £7m will be shared between 73 additional schools with the highest concentration of pupils from deprived areas, with the same amount going to national programmes, including those run by the third-sector, which work to raise attainment.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously pledged that tackling the attainment gap is a top priority, but her SNP Government has come under fire from opponents on its record in this area.
Somerville, who was appointed education secretary after May’s Holyrood election, stressed “closing the poverty-related attainment gap and ensuring every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential remains central to this Government’s work”.
She added: “Our ambition is a long-term one and we know that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean our efforts to deliver equity in education are more vital than ever.
“This first instalment of the expanded Attainment Scotland Fund, with record funding of more than £215 million, will allow headteachers, schools, councils and other partners to provide targeted help for some of our most disadvantaged pupils.
“We are providing investment across a number of diverse programmes which will benefit looked-after children, support pupils in our most deprived areas and empower headteachers to invest their funding on initiatives that are right for the children in their schools.”
Scotland took a point from England but left their mark on Wembley after a statement performance from Steve Clarke’s side saw the national team keep their hopes of Euro 2020 progress alive.
A draw was a fair result after both sides had chances but failed to take them, but Scotland leave London with more credit after matching a team with a higher reputation and loftier aspirations.
Clarke and his players can now relish Tuesday’s encounter with Croatia at Hampden, hoping to replicate a performance of energy, discipline and purpose, but with added goals if they are to progress to the knockout stages.
After the deflating disappointment of their opening day defeat to Czech Republic, Scotland needed a lift and a pulsating 90 minutes under Wembley’s arch proved that the team aren’t out of place at Europe’s top table this summer.
Clarke and his players had arrived in London full of hope despite the opening day defeat to the Czech Republic that saw the excitement of being back at a major tournament turn to dismay. The head coach had been adamant that the performance of the team had been encouraging, though he knew that his side couldn’t pass up as many chances again.
Both he and Scott McTominay said during their pre-match duties that Scotland would need to take at least a point but for both, not to mention the thousands of fans who had invaded the capital, the appetite was for a victory in this historic fixture.
The supporters, and the squad, were boosted with news that Kieran Tierney had been passed fit to play after the calf injury that kept him out of the loss to the Czechs. Tierney is one of a handful of elite-level players in the squad and the national team would need every one against an England side that has quality in depth.
As expected, the Arsenal defender took his place in the starting line-up in front of a quarter-full Wembley, where the 3200 Scotland fans were making their noisy presence known.
Clarke had a surprise in his selection with four changes, including one bold choice. Billy Gilmour, the 20-year-old who has made a breakthrough into the first-team picture at Champions League winners Chelsea, was handed a starting spot. The midfielder was alongside Callum McGregor and John McGinn in the centre of the park, with Scott McTominay part of the back three. Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams were partnered up front in a team that, on paper, had solidity but also a chance to ask questions of England.
Gareth Southgate had seen his England selection questioned before their opening game but a 1-0 win over Croatia had ensured a positive start for the hosts.
It was Scotland who made a positive start on Friday, with Che Adams taking a touch to control a Stephen O’Donnell cross before firing in a shot that John Stones had to block but the England defender went closer minutes later.
An England corner was curled in and Stone rose unmarked to powerfully head towards goal but saw the ball come off the post. Soon afterwards Phil Foden had a chance and after John McGinn was booked and England’s support smelled blood, things began to look a little fraught.
It just took a spell of possession to restore Scotland’s calm. After holding on to the ball for a little longer than the Wembley crowd expected, murmurs turned to boos from the home fans as the direction of play turned. Gilmour, McGregor and McGinn started to gain the upper hand in midfield, Tierney shot over the bar and Adams and Lyndon Dykes turned over play with constant hustle. There was an intensity in the stadium with what some had predicted as a one-sided game turning out to be a well-matched battle.
Not that Scotland could get comfortable. After a quiet start, Harry Kane reminded the defence of his danger when he headed wide of David Marshall’s goal. The flag was up but the striker’s ability to slip away and find space needed to be noted.
Scotland soon served notice of their own danger with a golden chance of their own. Tierney and Robertson combined on the left and the Arsenal defender arced a ball to the back post. O’Donnell met it as it dropped and his volley was saved by Jordan Pickford and Adams headed the rebound wide. The Tartan Army made their approval known.
England continued to probe and hold possession at length but looked short on ideas and unable to create and with Scotland settling in, the crowd grew restless and a little nervy. As half-time drew near, the sporadic outbreaks of Three Lions has faded away and been replaced by frustrated whistling. England knew they were in a game.
If Clarke had the easier half-time team talk, Southgate had the most effective. England came out roaring, forcing an early corner and then keeping Marshall on his toes when Mason Mount put a shot on target after Kane, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden had combined in the build-up. The Wembley crowd were won over again and were behind their team.
A Robertson break down the wing showed it wasn’t one-way traffic but England were alive again and Foden was electric, bringing fans to their feet with one mazy run and causing concern in the Scotland ranks with his pace and movement.
After riding out a tough spell, the visitors forced a corner just after the hour mark and it brought respite as much as opportunity.
Scotland had another major chance when a corner found its way to Dykes. The forward smashed in a powerful shot but saw Reece James head it away.
England made a change, surprisingly withdrawing Foden to introduce Jack Grealish but the substitution of one elite talent for another made no real impact on Scotland, who continued to defend resolutely but also build play and look for openings in a controlled and confident manner.
Clarke’s side still had to soak up pressure in spells and be wary of England’s big names but there was a demonstration of their effective defending, but also England’s slightly lacklustre showing in attack, when Kane was subbed off for Marcus Rashford.
Scotland made a change of their own when Stuart Armstrong came on to replace Gilmour, who was feted for a performance as good as any on the pitch.
Sterling had claims for a penalty waved away and England seemed desperate as the game entered the final ten minutes. Scotland stroked the ball about to provoke boos from the home support and Kevin Nisbet replaced Adams in a move that signalled that there was still more than a single point to be aimed for.
A chorus of Flower of Scotland started in the 88th minute and its rise in volume over the grumbling of the England fans told the story of who was happier as the final whistle neared.
After a disciplined and clever showing, there was still time for brief panic though. A traditional stramash in the Scotland box had hearts in mouths before McGinn thumped the ball upfield and seconds later the contest was brought to an end.
England trudged off to face questions about their disappointing showing but Scotland took plaudits to go with their point.
Steve Clarke believes Scotland “proved how good they are” in their 0-0 draw with England at Wembley.
Scotland produced a superb performance and created a number of good chances to win, but the draw is enough to keep their Euro 2020 hopes alive.
A win over Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday should be enough to reach their first ever major tournament knockout stage.
Scotland manager Clarke had particular praise for debutant Billy Gilmour and right wing-back Stephen O’Donnell, who he felt had been unfairly criticised after Monday’s game with Czech Republic.
O’Donnell came close to opening the scoring, while Gilmour was named man of the match.
Clarke told STV: “I am delighted for the players and staff, it was a great performance.
“We knew we would have to suffer a bit at times out of possession, but I was delighted with the way we played with the ball as well.
“We created chances, I have always said that we are a good team.
“I thought the reaction after the game on Monday was a little bit over the top, but it’s nice to close a few voices down.
“I think we showed the real Scotland on Monday, and we were harshly criticised for it.”
Clarke made four changes from the opening game defeat, bringing in Gilmour, Che Adams and Callum McGregor, while Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney returned from injury.
He believes his squad answered those who criticised their performance in the 2-0 defeat to Czech Republic.
He said: “I have said for a long time that we have a good group of players and they proved that again tonight. We hope it will get us into the next stage of the competition.
“I was hoping Stephen O’Donnell would score as he was very unfairly criticised the other night and his performance tonight was outstanding.
“If he scored that goal, it would have been justice for the boy, he’s a good player.
“It was never in doubt with Billy, he is a really top player, we know what he has got. Unfortunately his legs ran out towards the end, but he doesn’t get much football for Chelsea. He has trained really well with the group and we were delighted to get him on the pitch.
“It’s going to be a big game on Tuesday, I hope the fans enjoy the night and behave themselves and get back home safely.”
Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement at a briefing on Friday afternoon, where she said plans for how the country will move beyond the least restrictive stage of the government’s five-tier system – level zero – will be published next week.
She said that all 18 to 19-year-olds should have received their vaccine appointment invitations by next week.
She said: “If you are aged 18 to 29 and you haven’t had an appointment sent to you by next weekend, please go to the appointment checker page on the NHS Inform website so that you can make sure you can get an appointment arranged.”
The First Minister announced a temporary travel ban between Scotland and a number of virus hotspots in England.
Non-essential travel is no longer allowed to and from Manchester and Salford and existing bans for Bolton and Blackburn remain in place.
Sturgeon said: “Anyone travelling elsewhere in the Greater Manchester or Lancashire area, I’d ask to think carefully about whether your journey is really necessary, because we do see cases rising across that region.”
However, travel to and from Bedford will be allowed from the weekend as will travel to the Republic of Ireland – although visitors to Ireland are still expected to quarantine.
Sturgeon also said the government intends to extend the increased notice period for evictions.
Legislation to extend the protection, along with other emergency measures such as changes to how courts operate, by six months will be presented to parliament next week.
Sturgeon said: “Although we are on that journey back to normality and some measures are no longer needed, we are not quite there yet, so we need to keep some of these in place for a bit longer.”
The Scottish Parliament extended the emergency law until September 30, 2021, but there is no eviction ban in areas that are in level two or lower.
But from January 22, 2021, if you live in an area under either coronavirus protection level three or four, Sheriff Officers cannot currently evict you.
A plumber has completed an epic run from Hampden to Wembley in time to see the long-awaited Scotland v England Euros clash.
Alex Woodward, ran the 15 marathons in 15 days to raise funds to build a football centre in Glasgow’s east end.
The 26-year-old from Bothwell, South Lanarkshire, completed the 390-mile journey at around 2pm on Friday.
“It’s just the best feeling ever. Seeing my family and friends, everybody just there it’s easily one of the greatest feelings of my life,” Alex told STV News.
“Because I took it one day at a time, I was so in the zone, I wasn’t thinking about anything else. It almost feels like [I was] running, running, running… then I’ve lifted my head and here I am at Wembley.
“It was only possible because I took it one day at a time, so I almost surprised myself when I turned up here, I was like ‘wow, that’s it done’.”
Family and friends had travelled down to welcome him at Wembley where he also bumped into Scotland midfielder Scott Brown.
Alex has already raised more than £38,000 through the gruelling challenge and, having reached the finish line, is looking forward to Friday night’s match.
A shock tumour diagnosis and cancer scare last year inspired Alex to take on the challenge. In August, medics discovered a growth on a nerve on his lower back.
Although he found out he was cancer-free, he could face surgery to remove the tumour which may lose him the use of his right leg.
But, Alex said, despite it being the most difficult time he has ever been through it has granted him a “new lease of life”.
He wanted to celebrate his ability to function healthily and use his battle to help others by raising £50,000 for a community football centre in Glasgow.
Finnart AFC was established in Bridgeton in 1979 to create a community club and safe environment for youngsters to play football.
The new facility will be a home for the club and be a centre for sport, health, education and wellbeing for children in need.
To find out more and donate to Alex’s fundraiser visit here.
CCTV appeal after racist incident towards child on train
It is believed that the man may have information that can assist officers with their investigation.
Police have appealed for information following a racist incident directed towards a child on a train.
CCTV images have been released by British Transport Police of a man who officers wish to speak to in relation to the incident, which took place on the Bridgeton to Dalmuir service at around 4pm on Saturday, March 20.
It is believed that the man may have information that can assist officers with their investigation
Police have urged the man, or any members of the public who recognise him, to contact them.
He is described as approximately 60-years-old, of a heavy build, with short, greyish hair and glasses.
He was wearing a blue Adidas hooded top with three white stripes down the sleeves with a black shirt underneath, blue trousers, black trainers and he was carrying a white shopping bag.
British Transport Police can be contacted by text on 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 2100018087.
Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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