TRANSFER REPORT! Jurgen Klopp confident of luring Serie A star to Liverpool

first_img Lucas Biglia 1 Liverpool have joined the heavyweight pursuit of Lazio midfielder Lucas Biglia.The Argentine is already being tracked by Real Madrid and Manchester United but reports in Italy claims Jurgen Klopp believes he can persuade the player to join the Kop club.talkSPORT reported on Monday that Real were the frontrunners in the race to land Biglia – but Gazetta dello Sport suggests Liverpool are confident of competing with the Spanish giants for the 29-year-old.United were heavily linked with Biglia last summer but hesitated on making a bid and now look set to lose out on the experienced international.Liverpool appear to be more proactive than their rivals in pursuing Biglia, having sent scouts to both Italy and Argentina to watch him in action.Lazio do not want to sell the player until the end of the season, but may be persuaded to sell in January if Liverpool or Real come in with an offer they can’t refuse.last_img read more

Arsenal Wenger says Arsenal won’t give up on injury-hit Arsenal star

first_img Jack Wilshere and Arsene Wenger Arsene Wenger insists there is no chance of him giving up on Jack Wilshere and has hinted the Arsenal midfielder will be offered a new contract.Wilshere, who turns 24 today, has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and has not played a single minute of football this season.It had been expected he would return to action from his latest problem  – a stress fracture in his right foot –  over the festive period, but he has not recovered as quickly as hoped and his comeback date has been put back to February.Wenger, however, is not losing faith in the England international and is ready to offer him an extension on his current deal, which is due to expire in 2018.“He has two years left and I want Jack to stay here,” the Gunners boss said, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit of Newcastle.“When you love football and at his age, when you wake up in the morning and you can’t practice that’s terrible.“They need support and I try to give it to him. But he is strong and he is dealing with that. He started at 17 and played every single game and suddenly it stopped. So I believe that can make you stronger.”Asked if he can rely on Wilshere, who has started just 10 Premier League matches since March 2014, Wenger replied: “I am an optimist.“I always think: ‘Okay, it’s true that he hasn’t played many games in recent years’. I hope at some stage that will stop because he is young and I hope I’m right.“He is a special case because he is a special talent and he comes out of the club. And he is an England international and I hope his injuries will stop at some stage.” 1last_img read more

Jamie Vardy reveals Claudio Ranieri stays up all night studying rivals

first_img1 Jamie Vardy is the Premier League’s top scorer with 19 goals this season Jamie Vardy has revealed manager Claudio Ranieri stays up all night studying rivals and called Leicester’s season a “theme park ride”. The England striker believes Ranieri has worked wonders taking the Foxes to the top of the Premier League.Leicester host Norwich on Saturday with a two-point lead after a heartbreaking late 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in their last game. Ranieri replaced Nigel Pearson in the summer and Vardy – the league’s 19-goal top scorer – said the former Chelsea boss is the best he has worked with and rarely rests.He said: “It’s a difficult one, obviously each manager I’ve played under have all got different attributes. Every one has been brilliant to me but you’d probably say yeah because of what he’s (Ranieri) done in coming in and the little tweaks he made to help us on the pitch.“I think he examines every single aspect of every opposition we’re playing. He comes into our team meetings where he’s been up all night watching 50-60 clips of just one of the opposition’s players and he will tell you exactly what he’s done in 49 of them and what he did in the other 11.“It’s mental how much detail he goes into but it’s a help to us and hopefully gives us an advantage.”When asked to describe Leicester’s season in three words Vardy told Betfair: “Theme park ride.”Ranieri gave the players last week off before they returned on Monday to prepare for the visit of the Canaries. They were given a programme to follow and had heart rate monitors to track their progress, and Ranieri has been pleased with the results.He said: “I gave the players some programmes and they respected it and worked well. We had their GPS and when they came back the results were good. I trust them because they are very professional players. I gambled with them – we did not achieve nine points because we lost to Arsenal but they played well.”Ranieri returned to Italy during Leicester’s break and watched Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Roma in the Champions League, and admitted he rarely switches off.“I bring my laptop with me. If I have a spare hour I watch – then spend time with my family – then another hour. I went to watch Roma and Real Madrid – I scouted Ronaldo, not a bad young player,” he joked.Daniel Amartey is likely to be included against Norwich as he prepares to make his debut following a January move from FC Copenhagen and Jeff Schlupp is back after a hamstring injury, but Danny Simpson is suspended.Ranieri added: “I can put (Marcin) Wasilewski in again (at right back) I can put Amartey or (Marc) Albrighton maybe. I think Amartey is ready, he played against Man City’s under-21s and played 90 minutes.”last_img read more

Reopened I-5 surprisingly clear as commuters take alternatives

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Trucker Ricardo Cibrian of Los Angeles is presumed to be one of the two men killed in the crash. Trucker Hugo Rodriguez and his 6-year-old son, Isaiah, are the other two believed to have died. They reportedly were from Fresno. “This is the worst accident that I have personally seen,” said Warren Stanley, assistant chief for the California Highway Patrol’s Southern Division and a 25-year CHP veteran. One team of CHP specialists was working to identify the missing drivers as well as passengers and witnesses. Another team is working to identify the commercial vehicles – some of them burned to charred metal frames – through the trucking companies. Coroner’s investigators have been through all the vehicles and believe there are no more bodies, Stanley said. The cause of the crash has not been determined. NEWHALL – Traffic zipped easily through the normally clogged Newhall Pass on Monday after Interstate 5 lanes reopened ahead of schedule and investigators continued to search for clues to a deadly chain-reaction crash that closed the key north-south highway for days. While transit officials had braced for massive gridlock, more than a quarter-million commuters took alternate routes or mass transit and left the Golden State Freeway lanes clear. But even as traffic concerns eased, officials began stepping up their probe into what set off the fiery collision of 30 trucks and a car on a rainy Friday night, leaving three people dead and 10 injured. At least nine drivers who apparently escaped from vehicles trapped in the burning truck bypass tunnel in the Newhall Pass had not yet contacted the Highway Patrol, officials said. Fire raged in the tunnel just before midnight Friday into Saturday, compromising the structure. Passenger lanes cross over the damaged tunnel and state Transportation Department officials initially thought it could take days to ensure they were structurally sound. The freeway was shut down over the weekend and commuters were warned to find alternate routes to work Monday. But crews completed shoring up the tunnel, making it safe for repair teams to move in. Engineers determined that the freeway was safe and all lanes were opened shortly after 3 a.m. Monday. “It is, for us, a very good day here in California,” said Doug Failing, Caltrans district director for Los Angeles and Ventura counties. “I got into this business because I love seeing traffic move.” Failing said he will have a better idea of when the tunnel will open at the end of the week when he gets test results back. Concrete and steel reinforcement samples are being tested at a Texas lab to determine how the tunnel materials withstood the temperatures that reached 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Caltrans’ goal, he said, is to repair the tunnel without closing the freeway again. “I-5 is open to traffic and it is our intention to keep it that way,” Failing said. During the repairs, lighting will also be enhanced in the tunnel. There is no cost estimate for the repairs, but Caltrans has an emergency authorization of $2.25 million for the initial work. For now, all lanes are open except for the southbound I-5 connector to northbound Route 14. And it could be weeks or months before the southbound truck tunnel reopens. “The southbound truck bypass is closed and will remain closed for an indefinite period of time,” Failing said. Caltrans and the city of Santa Clarita urged commuters to continue seeking alternates because the endless stream of big rigs traversing California’s main north-south freeway artery will share the road with passenger vehicles – a rough mix on the busy road to work. The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph. To help reduce the impact of the freeway mess on commuters, Metrolink expanded its service between northern Los Angeles County and downtown Los Angeles. The additional service will continue today. On Monday, the I-5 and the Antelope Valley Freeway that feeds it just south of the tunnel were exceptionally clear. Expecting heavy freeway traffic, about twice the usual number of commuters crowded Santa Clarita’s three Metrolink stations before dawn hoping to avoid freeway jams that never materialized. It was standing room only on the Antelope Valley Line by the time the extended six-car train reached its final Santa Clarita stop in Newhall. Even though southbound freeway lanes were open, motorists said they opted for the train to avoid the long ride home, unaware that the northbound lanes also would reopen two days ahead of schedule. “I didn’t want to drive home,” said Michelle Debardas of Valencia, a Metrolink first-time rider who works at a Glendale title company. “Getting to work didn’t look so bad, but coming home could take hours.” Richard Freund said he, too, was climbing aboard the commuter train for the first time. “I definitely thought about taking it before but now I have a good reason,” said Freund, who works for a jeans company in downtown Los Angeles. Debbie Vickers, who works in a downtown law office, opted for Metrolink after it took two hours Sunday to get five miles down the road. She finally gave up on her trip to the San Fernando Valley. “I can’t believe this crowd,” she said, as hundreds waited for the 6:08 a.m. train in the dark and fog. Regular Metrolink riders weren’t thrilled with the onslaught of passengers. “I usually sleep on my way to work,” said Kenny Miles, a Valencia resident who works as an administrative assistant downtown. “I’m not sure I’ll get to sit this morning.” On Sunday, reporters brought up truckers’ concerns about the tunnel’s safety. “Quite frankly, I was caught by surprise at that,” Failing said. “We have had no record of complaints in my office.” His staff has looked at crash records from 2004 through 2006 at the tunnel site. “During that three-year period, we’ve only identified five accidents that happened in that stretch,” Failing said. He said the agency will be following up on the complaints. “A tunnel is not usually your first choice when you are trying to solve a transportation problem, but at some point in time a tunnel is the only choice you have available,” Failing added. State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, a former Santa Clarita mayor, said he worked with the Governor’s Office to declare a state of emergency. “What that does is free up the resources of the state to enable the construction and improvements to occur as quickly as possible to improve the commerce and improve the transportation,” said Smyth, R-Santa Clarita. The Interstate Commerce Act allows trucks to mingle with cars on traditional lanes, Smyth said. [email protected] (661) 257-5251160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

In L.A., Obama says he’ll improve education, health care if elected

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.He expressed concern about high dropout rates among Latinos and blacks, saying America needs educated workers to keep its economy strong. If “black and brown students are dropping out of school … our work force is not going to be competitive in the world,” he said. The Democrat also urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the Dream Act, a bill that would make illegal immigrant students who graduate from high school eligible for college aid. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar measure last year. The legislation would make sure “more students can see that a college education isn’t a faraway dream,” he said. The first-term Illinois senator vowed to roll back President George W. Bush’s tax cuts to pay for reforms to the health care system, which he said needs to be more focused on prevention. “I will make sure every single American has health care that is at least as good as my health care as a member of Congress,” Obama said. “You pay my salary. Why should my health care be better than yours?” Sen. Barack Obama promised to improve America’s education system Saturday as he brought his presidential campaign to the East Los Angeles school immortalized in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver.” The presidential hopeful spoke to about 200 students, teachers and others at Garfield High School, one of the social and cultural touchstones of the city’s largely Hispanic, working-class Eastside. Obama stressed the importance of early childhood education and called for more resources and funding for schools, adding that educating students should be the work of the entire community. “It’s time to stand up and deliver for America’s urban poor,” Obama said. Obama returned to California after a brief visit to Nevada, where he told an audience that his opponents could not accuse him of flip-flopping on support for the Iraq war because he never supported the war. He revisited that theme Saturday at Garfield High, drawing enthusiastic applause when he said his first act as president would be to call a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and tell them: “You’ve got a new mission and that’s to get our troops out of Iraq.” Obama downplayed polls showing him trailing Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton of New York for the Democratic nomination. And he joked about recent claims that he and Vice President Dick Cheney are distant relatives. “We’ve been trying to keep that hidden. He’s the black sheep of the family,” he said to cheers and laughter. Before heading to East Los Angeles, Obama dropped by Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer’s Malibu mansion Saturday morning for a tony fundraising event whose sponsors included actresses Alfre Woodard and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Savers move money to get banks’ best interest deals

first_imgToday, the bank still has roughly half the $150billion in online deposits in the United States, Bruene said, even though it has not offered the highest rates in recent years. Rate chasing booms Rate chasing really began to take off in January 2005, when the online bank Emigrant Direct came on the scene with a 3 percent savings rate, topping ING Direct, which was offering 2.35 percent at the time. Emigrant Direct was helped by its affiliation with a brick-and-mortar institution in the United States, the Emigrant Savings Bank of New York. But it got a big boost when the personal finance guru Suze Orman endorsed the Emigrant Direct offer on her TV show. In March 2006, Citibank introduced its online brand, Citibank Direct, with a 4.5percent savings interest rate. “Citibank was the first nationally known brand name in the market,” Bruene said. “When it’s Citibank, that gets the attention of every large bank. If they hadn’t been thinking of starting an online brand before, they were then.” Today, there are about two dozen major online-only banking brands in the United States, most of them divisions of regional, national and global banks, Bruene said. All use high rates to attract new customers to whom they can peddle more profitable products such as checking accounts and loans. “When banks choose to lower those high rates to improve their bottom lines, they do it knowing some customers – namely, the rate chasers – will move on.” Making a splash FNBO Direct, the new online unit of First National Bank of Omaha, made a splash on May1 when it introduced a five-month 6percent promotional rate. The offer was timed to start just as the 6percent rate at an online competitor, HSBC Direct, was expiring, the president of First National Bank of Omaha, Rajive Johri, said in an interview. “This is not a rate game we are playing, it’s a long-term plan,” he said. “Like other regional banks, we are on the defense against giant banks coming into our American plains and buying up branches. The Internet has allowed us to go national without opening branches, and this is our effort to position our bank in an industry that will be totally online in 10 to 20 years.” Through September, FNBO Direct attracted 36,000 new accounts with total deposits of $1.5billion, Johri estimated. Eighty percent of those new FNBO Direct account holders came from brick-and-mortar banks, and the average deposit was about $35,000, he said. Several thousand deposits from individuals were $400,000 or more. Three weeks into its 6percent rate, FNBO Direct imposed a $1million limit on new deposits. “We did not want a handful of people using our bank for a short period of time,” Johri said. Elizabeth Warren, a consumer finance specialist and Harvard Law School professor, said many savers were swinging $500,000 or more from one online account to another, some of them undoubtedly over Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. limits. Those over their limits probably believe the federal government will protect them, Warren said. “People remember that during the 1980s savings and loan crisis, it didn’t let depositors who’d exceeded their limits go down.” Warren added: “Although many savers are sophisticated enough to understand the stock market is the place to be long-term, they believe its fundamentals are crazy now and they cannot tolerate the risk. I’m one – my husband and I got out this summer and put our money into CDs.” Even investors with no plans to exit the market are sedately chasing online. Warren Wagner, 66, a retired government bond dealer and seasoned individual investor from Tahoe City, currently has 40percent of his holdings in cash as he waits to resume active trading later this year. For the cash in his portfolio, he bids online for CDs at Zions Direct, a division of Zions Bank of Salt Lake City. “I am getting the highest safe yield I can right now,” he said. Borrowed risk At the other end of the spectrum are chasers using borrowed credit card money, which Warren called “odd risk-taking behavior.” But it makes sense to Ferris, the software engineer who depends on his money management software to be “the biggest rate chaser out there.” He said he has had gains of $9,000 before taxes since he started chasing rates two years ago. Ferris had nearly $100,000 at FNBO Direct for the entire time the 6percent rate was offered, a little more than half borrowed on his credit cards. Knowing the bank would cut its rate when the promotion ended Sept.28, Ferris said he joined other rate chasers at online destinations such as and to discuss options. Many were considering CDs, previously heresy for pure chasers accustomed to being able to take advantage of competing banks’ rates. Ferris said he hesitated at first when he read an online tip about a seven-month CD offered by the State Employees Credit Union of Maryland, the state’s largest credit union, which was paying what he calculated as an effective 9.36percent annual percentage yield. Then, considering the possibility of another Federal Reserve funds rate cut at the end of October and its effect on online bank rates, he said he raced to join the credit union, known widely as SECU, because he feared other rate chasers would exhaust the deal. He was eligible as a University of Maryland graduate, and he transferred his entire FNBO Direct principal to SECU. “Why put your money in the market when you can have a 9.36 percent sure thing?” Ferris asked. “In seven months, it’ll be time to chase rates again, and who knows where they’ll be by then.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! They’re a latter-day version of day traders. Rate chasers, they call themselves: savers who hunt for the best interest rates at banks and credit unions and quickly move their cash from one account to another. Their forebears took the risky path of rapidly buying and selling stocks in the hope of locking in quick profits, but often suffered deep losses instead. The rate chasers, by contrast, consider themselves safety-conscious – even the most extreme among them who are playing with money borrowed from credit cards – because they are keeping their money in accounts that are federally insured. “The millionaires have stocks and bonds, and they’re chasing with their safety money,” said Nick Ferris, a 24-year-old software engineer from Rockville, Md., who readily acknowledges that he is one of the more aggressive rate chasers, having borrowed money at 0percent introductory rates from six credit cards. “We poorer people who don’t want to go bankrupt if the stock market crashes are more inclined to go rate chasing with all of our money because all of it is our safety money.” Rate chasers used to be retirees on fixed incomes who scoured the newspaper to find tiny bumps in rates. “It meant the difference between eating out or not,” said Jim Bruene, editor of an industry newsletter, Online Banking Report. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The current rate chasers are of all ages and means, although no one tracks their numbers and demographics. The stock market volatility this summer along with offers of 6percent interest on liquid insured savings only served to underscore the rate chasers’ conviction. Like their day-trading predecessors, rate chasers are all online. “Rate chasing has never been easier than in the last two years because of the Internet and personal finance sites like that have aggregated listings of providers chomping at the bit to get your business with the highest rates,” said Edward Woods, a senior analyst at Celent, a financial services research and consulting firm based in Boston. “There’s a big disparity between letting money languish in a low-yielding account at your typical brick-and-mortar bank where the average passbook savings account is less than 1 percent and the high-yield accounts, where they top 5 percent,” said Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at But, he added, “Whether it makes sense to chase every little change in rates depends on how much money you have to play with.” The roots of online rate chasing go back to 1996, when NetBank, the first significant Internet-only operation, offered savings rates that were higher than any offered by a brick-and-mortar passbook account, so long as savers were willing to open an account at a bank with no physical branches. (The bank was shut last month by federal regulators after it ran aground with lending problems.) Then, in September 2000, ING Direct, an online division of the Dutch banking giant ING Group, offered a 6.5percent savings rate at a time when passbook accounts in the United States were averaging 1.66percent, according to Although there were smaller online banks offering the same rate or a little more, ING Direct had the resources to pay for a huge national advertising campaign featuring a distinctive orange ball. And while ING Direct lacked the physical branches owned by its Dutch parent in Europe and India, it soon opened a Manhattan cafe where customers could sip coffee and log on to their accounts. last_img read more


first_imgRobert O’Connor demonstrating expert woodturning today at the exhibition at W.H. Raitt.A section of the large crowd that attended the Robert O’Connor demonstration at W.H. Raitt this morning.Michael and Patrick Callaghan from FESTOOL. Paul Wenlock from Trend at the exhibition earlier this morning. A large crowd is expected to descend on W.H. Raitt this weekend for the Woodwork machinery and woodturning show which kicked off earlier this morning. A big crowd was in attendance for the demonstration by special guest Robert O’Connor from Gorey, Co.Wexford.All exhibitors will have experts on hand daily, offering special prices, and advice on all products.There will also be various demonstrations from each exhibitor, throughout each day.The exhibition continues until 7pm tonight, and kicks-off again tomorrow from 9am to 1pm.   HUGE CROWDS EXPECTED TO ATTEND WOODWORK MACHINERY SHOW AT W.H.RAITT was last modified: August 15th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BusinessexhibitionExhibitorsFeaturesGuestnewsRobert O’ConnorW.H. RaittWoodwork MachineryWoodwork showlast_img read more


first_imgThe adult children of one of Donegal’s most successful businessmen Hugh Green have stepped up their ongoing court dispute over his €300 million fortune.Hugh Green at his business headquarters before his death.Mr Green was penniless when he left Ireland for New Zealand in 1951, building his huge wealth through construction, farming and property investment before he died in 2012 aged 80.He never forgot his roots, often returning to spend summer periods in Donegal and making large donations to many local organisations including Letterkenny General Hospital. However, a massive row between his children over his empire has now cast a dark shadow over his legacy.Shortly before his death, changes were made to the governance of the trusts and companies that managed his assets.Son John and daughter Frances were appointed as directors and trustees of the various bodies, while his other daughter, Maryanne, ended her trustee and director roles.John and Frances were appointed executors of a new will for Green that was signed in April 2012, months before he died. Maryanne Green is challenging the validity of the new will and other powers exercised by her father in late 2011 and early 2012 claiming he was not of sound mind.She claims Green was improperly influenced by John and Auckland barrister Michael Fisher, who has been appointed to various roles in the Green business empire.A ruling from Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann is due within the next two months.However, his feuding family returned to the High Court in Auckland yesterday.Daughter Maryanne is seeking to stop new trustees from being appointed, or significant distributions being made, until the judgment is issued. Justice Winkelmann said the court’s time was being wasted, and suggested the two parties should be able to resolve the issue independently.She adjourned the hearing to give the defence counsel time to consult the trustees.Maryanne’s lawyer, Vanessa Bruton, said she would seek an urgent hearing if the matter was not resolved by the end of the Easter break.FAMILY OF DONEGAL TYCOON STEP UP COURT BATTLE OVER HIS €300M EMPIRE was last modified: April 2nd, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:childrenCOURT BATTLEdonegalHugh GreenNew Zealandwilllast_img read more

Bayern Munich ace to rule out chance of Pep Guardiola reunion at Manchester City

first_img1 David Alaba in action for Bayern Munich Austrian star David Alaba is set to snub interest from Manchester City by commiting his long-term future to Bayern Munich.It has been reported that incoming boss Pep Guardiola was keen to make the talented left-back one of his first signings at City this summer.However, it appears that Alaba, who can also operate in midfield, has no interest in following his Bayern boss to England, according to German newspaper Bild.They have reported that the 23-year-old is on the verge of penning a bumper new deal, which will include a significant pay rise and keep him at the club until 2021.It has been suggested that the contract will boost him from £5.4m per year to around £9.3m per year, following a run of form which has marked him out as one of the best full-backs in world football.last_img read more

Get over nonsense about Rangers ‘not existing’ – Gers’ return can improve Celtic

first_img Rangers celebrate clinching promotion to the Scottish Premiership 1 talkSPORT’s Drivetime presenter Adrian Durham discusses the impact Rangers’ promotion to the Premiership will have on Scottish football…We had a fantastic debate to kick off the show on Wednesday. We asked the question: “Have Rangers saved Scottish football?” And soon we were inundated with intelligent callers: talkSPORT at its finest.However, Twitter proved to be the ignorant runt when it came to this debate I’m afraid. The genuine debate about the state of Scottish football and its future was lost in bigoted bile, swearing and pure hatred.Trying to have an intelligent football debate with people who know only insults is pointless. They think they’ve won the argument by calling you a ‘ginger prick’: in reality these people couldn’t tackle a high level debate, so they just vomited all over it instead, and claimed victory.Twitter could be brilliant, but unfortunately it’s taken dumbing down to the deepest depths.There will always be some who can’t raise their level above the meaningless nonsense about Rangers ‘no longer existing’, but there is a genuine debate to be had for people who can think bigger than those who cannot open their minds.Have Rangers saved Scottish football? My view is, in purely literal, superficial terms, no, of course not. If they hadn’t got promoted the Scottish Premiership would have carried on.But the debate is much bigger than that.Firstly, Scotland are the only home nation not to qualify for the newly expanded European Championship.Secondly, Scottish clubs have been useless in Europe. Keep those two things in mind as you read on. A couple of years ago I used to enjoy watching Dundee United, in particular Gary Mackay-Steven. He looked dynamic, he looked like he had a big future. Along with another exciting player, Stuart Armstong, Gary signed for Celtic last January and levelled out. Neither player has played for Scotland since they joined Celtic.So why have two talented footballers failed to step up since the “big move”?Players get better when they are challenged, when they have to perform with intensity, they learn from playing against tough opposition, they learn from playing in high pressure games, performing at that level regularly.So with talents like Armstrong and Mackay-Steven not being developed, the Scotland team suffers; hence the likes of Liam Bridcutt playing for Gordon Strachan’s side. And consequently Scotland stay at home this summer, while Northern Ireland and Wales join in the fun in France.Rangers coming back to the top flight won’t instantly help the national side. But the level of intensity will start to rise: suddenly there’s another massive stadium full of fans to raise the bar, there is a big club up there to be shot down. Everyone in the Scottish Premiership will want to beat Rangers, especially Celtic.Big game experience; high intensity. The more it happens, the more players learn, the better they become. The chances are a good number of Scottish players will be involved in these games. That can only benefit the Scotland team. From that point of view Rangers being back is a positive. The same applies to Scottish clubs in Europe. Long gone are the days of Celtic taking 100,000 fans to Seville and Rangers playing in the Europa League final. That night in Manchester was only eight years ago, but it seems more like 88 years ago.Celtic’s intensity has dropped without their rival on their case constantly. While Rangers have been away, Dundee United improved, then Celtic signed a couple of their best players to keep them down, and ultimately send them down.Now Aberdeen have improved, so let’s see how the season unfolds. Inverness and St Johnstone have won the Scottish Cup without Rangers around in the Premiership. Is it a sign that the rest of the top flight are better off without half the Old Firm? Possibly. But it’s definitely a sign that Celtic’s intensity is virtually non-existent.Celtic achieved the seemingly impossible by getting knocked out of two European competitions before Christmas this season. That’s an embarrassment. Why did it happen? Nobody is pushing Celtic, to the point where they seem to have no awareness of just how low they’ve sunk.Do Rangers raise that level just by their very presence back in the big time? Maybe not straight away, but be left in no doubt that one of Mark Warburton’s aims is to challenge Celtic as soon as possible.If Rangers get close, Celtic players will have to work harder, be better, or be released and replaced. Managers as well: if Ronny Deila continues to be bang average, he won’t be able to get away with it once a competitive Rangers are in the vicinity. You’ve got to be a hard-boiled irrationalist to ignore the fact that Rangers’ return changes the landscape of Scottish football dramatically. It has the potential to change things for the better for Scottish clubs in Europe, and has the potential to improve the national team. Only those who don’t care about the soul of football will try to keep hammering home the moribund talk of Rangers dying, that it’s not the same club, throwing in lame old ducks like title-stripping and taxes still being owed. Those of us who genuinely care about football got over all that some time ago.What happened wasn’t right of course. But it happened, sanctions were served, and it’s time for intelligence to take over, and for people to move on. Let’s think about football, and forget the peripheral stuff. It’s time for Scottish football to draw on the clear benefits of Rangers’ return to the top flight. Anything that might possibly bring back special nights like Celtic seeing off Messi and Barcelona to Glasgow, has to be a good thing, right?last_img read more