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Celtic ready to party as Rangers' worries continue

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11 May 2012 02:16:58

Celtic ready to party as Rangers' worries continue

Celtic players will finally get their hands on the Scottish Premier League (SPL) trophy when they take on Hearts in the final game of the season on Sunday.

For Rangers, last term's champions and Celtic's arch-Glasgow rivals, the lack of the SPL trophy in their cabinet at the end of a season would once have been their greatest concern.

But after months of financial turmoil at Ibrox, Rangers still don't know who their new owner will be and cannot yet be certain they will even be in Scotland's top-flight come the start of next season.

Celtic, who hold a 20-point lead over Rangers, wrapped up the championship at the start of April but have had a long wait for their trophy presentation.

This weekend's celebrations will cap off what has been a successful season for Neil Lennon's side, who saw their boss named SPL manager of the season while Hoops duo Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest received the corresponding player and young player awards respectively.

Mulgrew, also voted the season's best player in Scotland by his fellow professionals, has enjoyed a memorable campaign having won his first Scotland cap in a friendly against Slovenia in February.

But the defender admits to a tinge of regret after his side's hopes of a domestic treble of trophies came to an end with a League Cup defeat by Kilmarnock while Sunday's opponents Hearts knocked the Glasgow giants out of the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage.

"Winning the cups would have been nice after getting to a semi-final and final but we'd have taken winning the league at the start of the season," Mulgrew said.

"We'll just need to look at the positives and improve next year again," Mulgrew said.

"It's a great feeling to be voted for by your fellow professionals and to win these awards is brilliant but the most important thing is we won the league."

Hearts will try to ruin Celtic's title winning party at Parkhead by claiming the point that will guarantee fifth spot and European football.

Despite the likelihood they may rest several key players before next week's Scottish Cup final against Edinburgh rivals Hibernian, Hearts first team coach Gary Locke said there'll be no slacking this weekend.

"The boys and the management staff all know what's at stake. If we get a point then we'll finish in fifth place and qualify for Europe. That's what we're looking for," Locke said.

"Hopefully if we can get a result at Celtic Park that will get us into Europe. That was certainly our aim at the start of the season."

Rangers will bring down the curtain on a season to forget with a game away to St Johnstone.

Their future is far from certain after entering administration in February, a move that saw them docked 10 SPL points, while preferred bidder Bill Miller pulled out of the process to buy the 140-year-old club earlier this week.

With Ally McCoist's side having already secured second place in the SPL there is little at stake for the Gers.

But Rhys McCabe says the match is far from meaningless and wants to win the match at McDiarmid Park as a thank you to the fans for their support following a difficult few months.

"Rangers are a big club and we owe the supporters a result for the backing they have given us," the midfielder said.

"We'd like to bow out on a high for them and get a positive result because the fans have been excellent.

"They've really dug in and got behind us to raise money and keep our heads up. That just shows how important Rangers are to so many people and it's up to us to thank them for that in the best way we can."

Fixtures

Saturday (all 1400GMT): Aberdeen v St Mirren, Dunfermline v Kilmarnock, Inverness CT v Hibernian

Sunday (all 1130GMT): Celtic v Hearts, Motherwell v Dundee Utd, St Johnstone v Rangers


AFP

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