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As the domestic season draws to a close, the focus of the back pages is slowly but surely starting to settle on Russia. The opening match of the FIFA World Cup takes place on 14 June, when Russia take on Saudi Arabia. Ordinarily, it would not be a match-up to capture the imagination, but there is always something special about seeing the host nation in action.


Russia are favourites to win that first match, with some bookmakers having them as strong as 1/4 on, and if all goes to form, they will take an early lead in the Group A table. But how far can the host nation really go?


Everyone likes a dark horse


Even the most die-hard follower of the top teams loves to look down the list of qualifiers and select their personal dark horse, which they will cheer on to pull off a few surprises. You can also read about 5 underdog teams to watch at 2018 World Cup over here. Clearly, the hosts will be one on the most talked-about underdogs in the World Cup. But just how far can they go?


Russia’s World Cup record


In the Soviet days, the team had some strong World Cup performances, making the quarter finals in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and having their best ever performance in 1966, when they lost to West Germany in the semi final.


Since the fall of the Soviet Union, however, Russia has had a torrid time. The team has only qualified three times, and has never proceeded beyond the group stages, winning just two of the nine matches they have played. Potentially, however, things could be different this year.


The luck of the draw


The other teams in Group A with Russia are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. While Uruguay are clearly the stand-out favourites in the group, Russia certainly have a realistic chance of getting through to the last 16. Some see Egypt as another dark horse, and the match between them, which takes place on 19 June, could be the pivotal one.


Pressure to perform


With everything else that’s going on in the world at the moment, a successful World Cup is of huge importance to Russia, both socially and politically. If their own team can perform well, that will be the icing in the cake – in fact, according to a survey by the Public Opinion Fund (FOM), three quarters of the 1,500 people asked said it is “personally important” that Russia performs well, although only four percent backed their team to win the entire event.


The additional pressure of being the host nation has traditionally been more of a curse than a blessing. Of course, South Korea astonished the watching world to make the semi finals in 2002, but they are the exception that proves the rule. More commonly, the hosts struggle to live up to the hype.  South Africa had a wretched World Cup 2010, their consolation win over France proving the only bright point.


Capello confident


One man is quietly confident that Russia can go at least one step further than they have gone before, and that’s their former manager, Fabio Capello. The 71 year-old, who was recently sacked from his latest role at Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, is confident that Russia have what it takes to make an impact this year. When asked by FIFA.com what the world could expect from his former team, he said: “I saw the draw – they will get past the first round.”


He added that there is one man Russia will desperately need to have firing on all cylinders, and that is the captain, striker Fyodor Smolov. The 28 year old is undoubtedly world class, and has already attracted Premier League attention, with West Ham expected to make a move for him in the transfer window.

 
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:03

Scottish players making an impact in the EPL

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Scottish footballers in the English Premier League often go under the radar due to the array of talent that has flooded the league from abroad. There are, in fact, quite a few who have graced the division over recent times, with three making an impact just lately. The season may now be over, but each of the three players will be looking to make an even bigger impact in England’s top flight next season, and could we see even more Scottish talent head south over the course of the summer?
 
Andrew Robertson
Robertson, 24, joined Liverpool from Hull City last summer and since then he has really come on leaps and bounds. He’s arguably been the best left back in the division this season, after making 22 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s men, and he’s also starred in Europe too. Robertson has shown that he’s equally effective defensively, as he is offensively, and he possesses a wand of a left foot. He’s now become known for putting over some great crosses from the left and his energy is unbelievable. It would be great to see him make the team for the Champions League Final against Real Madrid.
 
Ryan Fraser
It’s taken Ryan Fraser a while to establish himself as a first team regular for Bournemouth, but the 24-year-old has now managed to make his mark in the Premier League this season. He’s made 25 appearances in the Premier League for Eddie Howe’s side this campaign and has weighed in with 5 goals and 3 assists. His versatility makes him a huge asset, as does his pace and willingness to run. This season he has appeared as a right back, right midfielder, second striker and a left winger, and he should now be a part of Howe’s plans for The Cherries next season.
 
Scott McTominay
McTominay, 21, has made the breakthrough at Manchester United this season under the guidance of manager Jose Mourinho, and there are big hopes surrounding the central midfielder, especially with Michael Carrick retiring from professional football. He’s made a total of 22 senior appearances for United this season just gone and he is likely to make more over the course of the 2018/19 campaign. He should be able to learn a lot from the likes of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, and with Carrick now focusing on coaching, he too could have a big impact on McTominay’s development.
 
The three players mentioned above are the real stand out talents currently plying their trade in the English Premier League right now. However, there are again string rumours that suggest Celtic left back Kiernan Tierney could be set for a move to a top English clubtoo. In order to get all the latest info on this and many other football related news, be sure to visit Betting.com's Football Betting page. The 20-year-old has been a revelation in the SPL, with many tipping him to go on to bigger and better things. Both Manchester United and Spurs are believed to be in the hunt for a left back, and Tierney certainly fits the bill.
 
Watching a football game is fun but this is not the only way to enjoy it. It can be turned into an even more exciting experience. This is through football betting. Just to clarify, though, this post is not aimed at encouraging young football fans to get involved in gambling. The goal here is to educate as not many young football fans are aware of the idea of gambling in football.
 
What to expect
Many sports betting sites share the same offerings although there are some that bear distinctive features. You may notice the top football betting sites have the following features:
  • Not solely about football.It’s a rarity finding sports betting sites that are dedicated only to football. The leading football betting sites are mostly general sports betting sites. They also feature other sports and events such as basketball, baseball, volleyball, and even notable non-sports events like the Oscars.
  • Not that interactive but still exciting.Football betting may not be that exciting if you are placing bets on games that are yet to happen. You will most likely enjoy football betting better if you bet on games that are ongoing. This way, you can enjoy watching the game and claim your prize in case your bet wins after the game is over.
  • In-play betting.Many sports betting sites allow you to place bets for an ongoing game. Football is usually one of the popular sports that come with in-play betting.
  • Multi-view. You can do sports betting for multiple events at the same time. There are advanced sports betting sites that let you keep track of the progress of different events you placed bets on. It’s not recommended to engage in simultaneous sports betting if you are a newbie, though.
  • Multiple payment options. Since you are going to place bets, of course, you need a way to make deposits into your account. These deposits become the funds you will be using for placing bets. Leading sports betting sites accept MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Skrill.
  • Payout policy. In most cases, you can withdraw your winnings through the same method you used for making deposits. If you made deposits through your Visa card, for example, your withdrawal will be processed through your Visa card.
All about statistics and forecasts
Football betting is mainly about game results and stats. As such, you need to be well-acquainted with the different football betting stats. Numerous websites present statistics and other information that can help you with football betting.
Moreover, there are emerging trends sports bettors have to keep up with. These trends are usually related to personnel changes, player injuries, and weather during the game dates.
 
The need for sensible betting
Since football betting is basically a form of gambling, it is important to watch out for the proper management of your bankroll. Usually, football bettors only spend around 20% of their total bankroll for every week. If you are a newbie to it, you have to be more prudent. The losses may not be that noticeable to you as you enjoy watching the games and betting. However, it can easily reach a point of problem gambling.
Yes, gambling on football games is possible and many people do it. If you are thinking of trying it, you need to get properly acquainted with its different terms and nuances. At the same time, you need to be mindful of the possibility of getting addicted to the gambling aspect of it.
Image: Pixabay.com
Football is the biggest participation sport in the world with the latest figures showing that there are around 300 million registered players across all levels of the game, of whom 40 million are female. In parks all over the UK every Saturday and Sunday the “weekend warriors” forget their normal jobs and become the stars of their local club or pub team. Unfortunately, on Monday morning, many of them hobble into work or school with injuries sustained on the pitch.
 
In any contact sport there will be injuries caused by collisions with other players, the ground or the woodwork. But other types of damage such as sprains, strains and tears to the soft tissues can be avoided. At the amateur level training is often seen as a chore - players want the glory but they don’t want to put in the hard preparation work. But at any level, by using the correct training methods and warming up properly before a match, players will be fitter and less prone to injury. This is something that needs to be taught from a young age.
 
Training Should Be Fun
 
Kids have a relatively short attention span so, when they start learning to play football, although they might quickly pick up the basics, they will lose interest if it’s all about teaching. That’s like being at school! But, like school, the training should be broken up by playtimes. Introducing fun games and challenges will keep their interest.
 
Children will run around and kick a ball for as long as they’re allowed and their fitness and stamina will build naturally. They should be encouraged to play other sports so they gradually develop different areas of their bodies. Concentrating on the same areas of exercise can actually hinder their growth. And, with a variety of games to play they are less likely to get bored and drop out of football. Some studies have shown that kids who have more all-round ability are less liable to suffer football injuries as they grow older.
 
If the idea that training is fun is instilled early, it is more probable that notion will be carried forward into adolescence and adulthood.
 
Youth Training
 
The clichés, “no pain, no gain” or “you can run through the pain” shouldn’t apply to youth football. If a young person complains of pain it should be ascertained whether it is something minor that can be “run off” or an injury that needs treatment and/or rest.
 
Young bones aren’t usually fully formed and grown until the mid to late teens. The cartilage in the joints is softer than in adults and is slow to repair when damaged. Introducing serious and frequent training too early can result in overuse injuries which can have long-lasting effects.
 
A common cause of foot pain in adolescents is Sever’s disease which affects the heel. It is usually the result of too much exercise, especially running or not using the right running technique. If a child complains of heel pain they need to stop the exercise and rest the foot. A physiotherapist will be able to detect abnormal movement and provide exercises to stabilise the foot movement. If Sever’s disease goes undetected and untreated there can be a permanent deformity of the bone.
 
There are a number of other injuries which are relatively minor for an adult but can affect the long-term development of young people. Training techniques, particularly with weights, need to be introduced gradually and developed as the player matures. There should also be sufficient recovery time allowed after matches and training sessions to lessen the risk of overuse damage.
 
Injury Prevention
 
One of the major factors in injury prevention is preparation. Warming up before a match or training session slowly raises the heart rate, stretches the muscles, ligaments and tendons and increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscles.
 
FIFA, in consultation with a group of medical experts, developed a warm up and injury prevention program called 11+ which is available todownload. The program is designed for footballers over the age of 14 and should be performed at least twice weekly to be wholly effective. It consists of three parts: Low speed running exercises with some stretching; exercises for strength, balance, agility and plyometrics; moderate to high speed running with direction changes.
 
In a study by the British Medical Journal it was shown that teams using the 11+ program reduced injuries in training by 37% and match injuries by 29% with a 50% reduction in serious injuries.
 
Training sessions should incorporate core training which strengthens the abdominal, back and pelvic muscles, building core stability. Working on the muscles that help with balance can improve posture, coordination, stability and agility. Plyometrics, or jump training, helps to strengthen muscles, ligaments and tendons in the legs and enables a player to jump more powerfully.
 
All of these factors work together to reduce the risk of injury. The player is less likely to fall, will be stronger in contact with other players and will land better after jumping.
 
A cooling down period after exercising is also beneficial. It lets the heart rate decrease gradually and gentle stretching will reduce the risk of cramp and stiffening in the muscles by reducing the build-up of lactic acid.
 
Playing by the Rules
Football is a tough game but the rules are there to protect players and make the game fair and entertaining. Players who make reckless challenges by going over the ball, using elbows or jumping badly can not only injure other players, but also themselves.
 
A tackle that breaks a player’s leg, for instance, doesn’t just rule them out of the sport for a long time, but can also affect their livelihood if they are unable to work.
 
If you sustain an injury which you believe is the result of recklessness or negligence, you could make a claim against the player, club or match official. You should seek advice from a solicitor who will advise you on the procedure for making a personal injury claim.
 
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 21:59

Common football injuries

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Football is arguably the most popular sport in the world with more than 265 million participants around the globe according to the 2015 FIFA Big Count. There are an estimated four billion football fans. Even in America where it is not a traditional sport, the number of players has been steadily growing and now stands at over 24 million making it the third most played team sport in that country.
 
However, football is a tough, physical sport and outfield players can run an average of 7 miles in a match with some midfielders covering as much as 9.5 miles. As well as a high level of fitness, players need the strength to tackle and the skill to evade tackles. But as a highly competitive contact sport there are frequent injuries sustained, from minor knocks that the “magic spray” will cure to serious damage with longer-term effects.
 
In the professional game, there are strict training and diet regimes watched over by the coaches. When players get injured, the clubs have medics and physios who treat them and monitor their recovery. A player doesn’t get back on the pitch until the club doctor says they are fit to do so.
 
But, for the millions of amateur players who play every weekend, it is generally their own decision as to when they return to the game after being injured. Frequently, players go back to playing before they are fully recovered which often results in overuse injuries. Repetitive injuries are especially dangerous when they involve head trauma.
 
Strains and Tear Injuries
 
Because of the nature of the game the most common injuries to outfield players are to the lower body, with a third caused by overuse through not giving an injury sufficient time to recover. Injuries to the soft tissues like ligaments, tendons and muscles are frequently incurred through turning, overstretching and changing direction suddenly.
 
Hamstring injuries affect the back of the thigh. A minor strain might just need a few day’s rest, but a tear to the muscle can involve months of recovery.
 
Knee injuries in football are very common and one of the most serious is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This used to be a career ending injury for the player, but advances in medicine mean that with surgery they can play again, although they could be out of the game for a year.
 
A meniscus tear is damage to the cartilage in the knee which can sideline a player for around eight weeks. A more serious tear may need surgery meaning many months of being unable to play.
 
Overstretching when going for the ball, sprinting or twisting can result in a groin strain or hernia. This is another injury which, in the more serious cases, could mean months out of action. However, the recovery time has been much reduced by improved surgical procedure.
 
Traumas
 
Trauma injuries are mostly caused by collisions with other players or falls. These could be minor cuts or bruises or, in the worst cases, fractures to the legs. In the thick of the action where players are contesting high balls there can be a clash of heads which could cause concussion.
 
In the penalty area, goalkeepers literally throw themselves in harm’s way and risk clashing with players, the ground and even the goal posts. In 2006, Petr Cech, who then played for Chelsea, suffered a fractured skull while diving at a forward’s feet. The injury was life threatening but he recovered after surgery. He now has to wear a protective helmet during matches.
 
Head Injuries
 
Concussion is temporary damage to the brain which can be the result of a clash of heads. A player who is in a heavy collision which causes severe shaking of the head can also suffer a concussion. It is not an uncommon injury and most players make a complete recovery. The danger lies in the condition not being quickly diagnosed and treated correctly.
 
As with any other trauma injury, a concussion needs time to heal and the player will need complete rest, mental as well as physical, until the symptoms have gone completely. Their return to training should be gradual, initially with no heading of the ball or tackling. If a player starts back too soon there is a chance of a secondary or repetitive concussion which are believed to cause long-term and possibly life-changing damage in later life.
 
If you suspect a player might have concussion but carries on playing, you should inform the referee. Signs of concussion could be confusion, a blank stare, being distracted or not playing as well as normal.
 
Youth Football
 
It has been shown that the older a player gets, the more susceptible they are to injuries, particularly those to the soft tissues as they lose elasticity. Consequently, there are far fewer injuries in youth football than in the adult game.
 
But training for children and young teens has to be geared differently because their bones are still forming and growing and they can’t take the same stresses as adult bones. If young people are pushed too hard it can do lasting damage. Fitness, flexibility and form can be worked on, but weights can wait. A varied training routine will provide the best long-term, all-round fitness.
 
It is especially important that if youths do suffer injury they take enough time out to rest and recover so that the problem isn’t compounded.
 
Injury Claims
If you sustain a serious sports injury such as head trauma and you believe it is due to negligence on the part of the referee or a reckless challenge by another player you might be able to make a claim against them. It is a difficult procedure as playing sport brings with it the inherent risk of injury. The onus will be on you to provide evidence to prove the negligence, so witness statements should be taken. A team of legal experts specialising in personal injury will advise you on the process of making a claim for a head injury.
Thursday, 05 April 2018 10:03

A Tribute: Keir White

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Tributes from friends, family and teammates have been pouring in to honour Keir White, a keen footballer from Kilmarnock, who passed away recently after going missing.
 
The 24-year-old played for Bonnyton Thistle, Darvel Juniors and Dean Thistle, among others, and also coached at Crosshouse FC. Each of the clubs was quick to pay respects to their former player, who was an extremely popular and well-known person in the local community who touched many lives, on and off the field. This writer was lucky enough to know him in both respects.
 
During his time with Bonnyton Thistle, Keir won the Scottish Youth FA Cup. It was on that day, May 6 2012, when I personally had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a drink with Keir for the first time, as our teams both hailed from Kilmarnock and both brought back Scottish Cups that very day. Ever since then he was always quick to say ‘Alright mate, how’s things?’ on a night out or at the side of the football pitch. Every single time without fail, every single time with a smile and handshake. It was a privilege to know him.
 
Dean Thistle FC, for whom Keir played during his younger years (pictured, below), said they lost a “brother” and that he was part of a team that “looked out for and respected” every coach and every teammate. They added: “We ask that everyone spares a thought tonight for this fantastic young man, the club would also like to pass on their deepest sympathy to his mother Donna and all the family.”
 
 
A spokesperson for Crosshouse Community FC said: “We had the privilege of getting to know Keir when he was a volunteer coach at the club; he helped out for a year while his younger brother Jack played with our 04s.
 
“Keir was a genuinely nice young man and he was someone the younger players could look up to. One thing’s for sure, you will be sadly missed and thought of fondly, RIP Keir.”
 
Bonnyton Thistle wrote: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Keir White.
 
“He was more than just a talented player, he was an extremely good-natured individual, a jovial character and above all a popular lad. He was loved in the dressing room and will be sorely missed by all.
 
Everyone at the club would like to extend our sympathies to his family, girlfriend and friends at this time.”
 
His girlfriend Amy Collins posted a heartfelt message on social media, paying tribute to her “handsome boy”. She wrote: “Thank you for making the time I spent with you so special, you never know what’s hiding behind a big gorgeous smile. Be kind to your loved ones, you never know when it’s going to be the last time you’ll see them.
 
“I love you forever, my heart is all yours.”
 
Other close friends and teammates alike have been sharing their memories, and fellow Rangers fans have been urging one another to hold a minute’s applause at the club’s next game, this Saturday, in the 24th minute, in his memory. A funding page has also been set up to raise money for male mental health charities.
 
The sheer amount of messages posted online is testament to Keir’s charisma and warm personality. The overwhelming sentiment is that he always looked out for others before himself, which perhaps makes the nature of his passing all the more tragic. 
 
Fraser Gall was one of Keir’s close friends and a long-time teammate. He said: “Keir was always bubbly and full of laughter growing up. A boy that would do anything for you and appreciative of anything you would do for him. Holidays and nights out he was always the entertainer.
 
“We both signed for Darvel Juniors around the same time and spent four-and-a-half years together where we grew even closer. He always joked about being the ‘Darvel Cafu’ and I still remember him scoring a wondergoal against Lugar that he went on about for years.”
 
Fraser added: “I genuinely believe Keir was the one who gelled everyone together. I will never forget him and the massive impact he had on mine and many other’s lives. Teammate, Friend, Legend.”
 
Peter Wood played with Keir at Bonnyton Thistle and said: “I remember first meeting Keir aged seven, when I played for Dreghorn and he for Crosshouse. Back then he was still the same friendly character.
 
 
“We kept in touch until we finally ended up on the same team at Bonnyton 19s. We were all close but Keir was central to it as he was always up for having team nights out but also with his bubbly personality leading him to being one of the big characters in the changing room. 
 
“He was always full of banter, laughs and was able to make light humour of even the serious situations. He was a top player and was definitely one of the team’s consistent performers. I’m sure the full team will have nothing but top memories to reflect back on when we think of Keir. He’ll be sorely missed by a lot of people as he was a popular boy.”
 
Neill McPherson, who also knew Keir on the pitch and then became friends with him off it, said: “An absolute gem of a boy who’s personality and smiled lit up any room, even on their own darkest day. Won’t meet many like him.”
 
Reid Fisher travelled with Keir to Rangers matches and said he was “an absolute gem of a boy” and a great friend. “Donald Keir White, where do I begin?” He said. “Always up for a good laugh and full of carry on. The boy would do absolutely anything for me and was just a great friend. Every time I seen his name pop up on my phone it would make me laugh before I even opened the text message as I knew it would be something stupid and have about 5 “mates” in it, even if it was 5 words long.  Every Old Firm game, Keir would come cruising down my street with the songs on and the scarf hanging out the window buzzing for it, and even if we went and got beat 4-0 he would still have that big smile on his face from ear to ear. Reid joked that while Keir was a talented footballer, he never scored by him. He added: “All joking aside the boy was one in a million, won’t find anyone else like him, he was loved and adored by everyone and will be sorely missed, but one thing is for sure you will always be in our hearts mate. I know fine well you will be there looking down on me and over my shoulder for the rest of my life, rest in peace brother I love you always.”
 
Ian Higgins, President of Bonnyton Thistle, said that Keir was “A guy larger than life, a character full of fun.”
 
His family can be proud in the knowledge that they raised a kind, thoughtful and well-liked man. His younger brother, Jack will always have a role model to look up to. Keir’s cousin, Sarah Balmer, wrote: “You were honestly the best cousin to have, you were more like a brother to me, with your quirky personality and the daft jokes you came out with. I love you so much, fly high.”
 
 
Jordan Hunter recalled a particular memory of Keir that demonstrated his selfless nature.
 
“My girlfriend was in a bad car accident, no one would take me to hospital to see her. Keir was working the next day but he still got out his bed to take me, just shows how much he really cared about his pals, heart of gold. He was amazing at solving everyone else’s problems and I’ll forever miss and love him, gone but never forgotten.”
 
Lauren Lowe, another friend of Keir’s, sent a personal message saying: “Keir was such a good guy and he helped anyone with anything no matter what, he put others before himself 24/7 and even though he’s gone he’ll still be one of the best people out.
 
“He was one in a million and there’s never going to be another Keir White.”
 
Everyone in the football community will surely extend their deepest condolences to Keir’s family and girlfriend. They all hopefully know that they are in many people’s thoughts at this very difficult time.
 
It was a privilege to write this piece, and a privilege to know Keir.
 
A poem composed by one of Keir’s teammates is pictured below, followed by other tribute messages.
 
 
 
 
 
Monday, 19 March 2018 11:55

The making of Alfredo Morelos

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Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos has been one of the hottest properties in the January transfer window and indeed beyond it too. The 21-year-old Columbian has been in red hot form for Graeme Murty’s side this season and it’s no surprise that other clubs have recently taken a keen interest. It’s believed that Morelos was the subject of a bid exceeding £7 million from Chinese side Beijing Renhe recently, but doubts surrounding his future have now been put to bed.
 
Morelos began his career with Columbian side Independiente Medellin and his goal scoring ability was soon recognised by European sides with Finnish side HJK the ones to initially take a bit of a gamble on him. They loaned Morelos in from Medellin with an option to buy and after hitting 16 goals in 30 games they were left in no doubt; so they made his switch a permanent one.
 
He followed up an initial first season by once again delivering the goods in front of goal, and once again this alerted potential suitors to his potential. Rangers are believed to have paid around £1 million for the Columbian striker’s services and already that is looking great value for money especially when you consider they could have sold him for in excess of £7 million just 7 months after signing him.
 
This was always going to be a huge season for Rangers as they looked to overthrow Celtic as the Scottish Premier League champions. They were very inconsistent during the opening stages of the campaign under former manager Pedro Caixinha, but Morelos has consistently produced in front of goal all season. In fact, he is on course to be the Top Goalscorer in the SPL, with him being 5/2 currently at Unibet’s Betting sites to claim the accolade.
 
Since arriving at Ibrox, Morelos has played 35 games in all competitions and in that time he has managed to score 17 goals and provide 6 assists for teammates. As things stand he’s currently the second highest goal scorer in the division behind Kilmarnock’s Kris Boyd and with age very much on his side he’s only going to get even better.
 
It’s no surprise that other clubs quickly came calling for the young striker who has managed to score the goals at every club he has turned out for so far. With China calling Rangers quickly moved to tie him down to a new deal on improved terms. The contract now sees him extend his stay at Ibrox for the next three years. This is a huge boost for the club as they look to finally get back to their best and challenge Celtic for the title.
 
Morelos has already turned out at international level for Columbia too at both U17 and U20 levels. He’s believed to be eager to become a regular fixture in the senior national side alongside the likes of Radamel Falcao and Luis Muriel. Furthermore, Rangers manager Graeme Murty has insisted that this could become a reality by staying at Ibrox for the next few years and continuing to score the goals and help the club challenge for silverware.
Thursday, 22 February 2018 18:17

Europe's biggest youth team

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When you think of the biggest football teams in Europe certain names spring to mind. Manchester United of course, perhaps Celtic and Rangers, Real Madrid would be a lot of people’s first suggestion maybe Barcelona as well. One name that would not be on the list of many people is IF Brommapojkarna, a Swedish football side based just outside of Stockholm in the suburb of Bromma, more famous in the UK for its airport than its football team.
 
However IF Brommapojkarna, are the biggest club in the Europe. That’s not marketing hyperbole, that’s not media spin, that’s a fact. In terms of number of teams currently active they have the most with over 240 teams and more than 3,000 male and female players as well as boys and girls pulling on the black and red of IFBP.
 
Their incredible size has led to incredible results in terms of youth football trophies, player development and outcomes for their senior side. They have managed to win the Gothia Cup, one of the world’s most prestigious youth tournaments, a record amount of times at all different age groups. It is a tournament that has seen players like Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Xavi Alonso, Alan Shearer and Scotland’s own Gordon Durie have all featured in the past.
 
The senior side has recently returned to Swedish highest division the Allsvenskan with a squad made up of many players who have come through the academy. They were last in the top division in 2014 when they managed to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League and play Italian side Torino. They have provided a number of players for the national team, both in the past and now, including ex-Arsenal star Anders Limpar and current player Albin Ekdal. They have, in short, managed to create a club that from top the bottom works and provides the community with a strong asset.
 
Scottish football needs to make changes, it needs to take risks and it needs to gamble. Scottish football is often favoured by gamblers because it has become so predictable and easy to read. People are scrambling to get a piece of the action and with Ladbrokes football betting exclusive offer for new customers if you haven’t already bet on Scottish football then now is the time to get involved. With an offer waiting for you when you become a new customer there has never been more of a reason to bet on Scottish football. For those in charge at the SFA and in charge at Scottish clubs, there are two lessons they could learn and gamble on implementing that have worked brilliantly at Brommapojkarna.
 
Have teams that play just for fun
 
With so many teams it is obvious that not every player who plays for IFBP are going to make it at the top level. In fact, many of the teams are not designed to create the next generation of Swedish stars, they exist to provide the community with a space where young players can play and feel a part of a club even if they are never going to make it in their academy. They have sides that just play on the weekends for kids who want to be a part of something bigger than a small juniors club. This makes people more interested, more invested and means people are more likely to feel comfortable about their local football team. It gives back the sense of community that some teams in Scotland have lost. Imagine being able to play for a spin off of a Celtic side or a version of Rangers, you would feel closer to the club and hopefully that would create more excitement around a game that is in desperate need of a boost.
 
Embrace being a second tier competition
 
Many Scottish clubs, fans and the FA seem unable to admit that Scotland has lost prestige and is no longer at the top of the footballing world. For IFBP they long ago realised that they are not a big side in terms of cache and thus pivoted to become a selling club that develop players for other European league and thus embrace and encourage players to see them as a stepping stone. They make sure players dream bigger than Swedish football which gives them bigger goals and ambitions and aids their development. Scotland should embrace the fact it can become a talent factory like IFBP has and that may well help players to dream bigger and perform better.
Thursday, 04 January 2018 12:21

Scottish Schools FA awards for four schools

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Four schools in Scotland have today earned their own Scottish Schools FA Quality Awards
 
St. Ninian's High School (Giffnock), Eastwood High School and Turnbull High School have all gained Gold awards, while St Andrews High School in Paisley has earned a Silver award.
 
The SSFA Quality Awards were created to encourage and recognise the "provision of football in schools for both boys and girls at local and national level" and "the attainment of Scottish FA coaching certificates by team coaches."
 
The awards are handed out on a 'Gold', 'Silver' and 'Merit' with the criteria for each award changing depending on the size of the school applying for the award.
 
For instance, for large schools to recieve a Gold award a school would need to have four teams competing in local or SSFA competitions and to have at least two coaches who have attended an SFA level 1.2 youth course.
 
The award is a credit to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly for their respective schools and they should be very proud of their achievements. Congratulations to all the schools involved.
 
Scottish teams finalise transfer plans for the January transfer window
The January transfer window is just a few weeks away now and many teams have already finalised their transfer plans. Those who have been performing well will look at players who can strengthen their squads while those fighting for survival at the bottom look for saviours who can get their team away from trouble. For fans, it’s that time once again of predicting the likely movers via online betting and winning big.
 
Top rumours
 
Alex McLeish to Rangers
This is not a transfer that can occur only in the transfer window but because it’s of huge significance in the Scottish League, we had to include it. Rangers, one of the ‘big’ teams in Scotland is searching for a manager after the sacking of Pedro Caixanha earlier. Bookmakers tip Alex McLeish 11-2 according to Paddy Power to become Rangers next manager. Ranger’s board favourite candidate, Derek McInnes snubbed the job.
 
James McClean to Celtic
James McClean is almost a guaranteed starter in the West Brom side but he has not made that deter him from stating his desire to play for Celtic. James McClean is reported to have told friends that he sees himself playing for the Hoops in the near future. McClean said ever since he watched the club’s impressive victory against Spanish champions Barcelona in 2012, he developed a passion and desire to wear the Celtic jersey.
 
Dusko Tosic to Celtic
Reports coming from Turkey say Celtic want to bring Beskitas defender, Dusko Tosic to Celtic park. Tosic is a versatile defender who can play as a centre back or a left back. Tosic played in the UK for Portsmouth and QPR before moving to Turkey. Celtic, however, will need to fight stiff competition from Tottenham Hotspurs who are believed to be interested in the 32-year-old defender also.
 
Image result for Niall McGinn
 
Niall McGinn to Aberdeen
Former Aberdeen player, Nian McGinn (pictured above) is wanted by his former club. McGinn is currently unattached as his contract with the South Korean club; Gwangju was cancelled by mutual consent. Aberdeen is involved in a three horse race with Hibernian and Hearts for the signature of the tricky winger. Recently, McGinn was a guest of Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon. However, bookmakers tip Aberdeen as McGinn’s likely destination.
 
Jake Mulraney to Hearts
Jake Mulraney is eyeing a move to Hearts. The deal is likely going to happen in the January transfer window because Mulraney’s contract ends in the summer and Caley Thistle would not want him to go on a free in the summer. Caley Thistle’s coach has already conceded Mulraney is too good for the Championship thus a move in January is very much a possibility. 
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