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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: ‘IT’S GOING TO BE A BATTLE,’ BROWN LOOKS TO IBROX, CLUBS FACE CASH CRISIS, TURNBULL AGREES DEAL

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SCOTT BROWN will not allow anything to interfere with his focus on leading Celtic to three points from the crucial confrontation with Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.

In the midst of speculation of the game being cancelled or played behind closed door in the wake of the coronavirus virus, the Hoops skipper remains determined to finish the afternoon with a 16-point advantage over their nearest challengers as they zero in on their ninth successive title.

Brown, the club’s 34-year-old midfield inspiration, told the Celtic website: “Every single game is huge for us. We don’t worry about who we’re playing, we make sure we focus on how we’re going to set up.

“At the weekend, we’ll focus on ourselves and we’ll make sure we play to the best of our abilities, make sure we’re organised and we’ll make sure we all know our jobs on the pitch.”

Ahead on the encounter with Steven Gerrard’s outfit, Neil Lennon’s men are undefeated domestically in 2020 – having won 12 games and drawn just one, last week’s 2-2 stalemate with Livingston in West Lothian.

Brown admitted he expects another Glasgow derby dogfight, but is convinced he and his team-mates can stage an action replay of the performance that brought the club a 2-0 triumph in Govan on September 1 when Odsonne Edouard and Jonny Hayes netted the goals.

He added: “They are a good team and played well at Celtic Park last time. It’s going to be a battle, but we need to make sure we play well, that we go there and work hard and try and win the challenge.

“We’ve done well away from home and we need to make sure we continue that.

“We’re in a good place right now. We’re playing well and need to make sure our current form going.”

SCOTLAND’S clubs have been warned not to expect extra cash hand-outs from the Scottish Professional Football League if they are forced to play games behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

So far Hampden bosses have resisted calls to follow the lead set by a number of European nations – including Italy’s Serie A – and order matches to be played without fans.

However, the SPFL chiefs have advised their members to “examine their insurance arrangements” in case they are forced to take action to help combat the spread of the virus.

Banning supporters from stadiums would present a major blow to clubs, who are reliant on their income through the gate.

And now league bosses have cautioned that they will not be able to bail out clubs in distress after insisting they have no spare funds to cover the emergency.

In a statement given to the PA news agency, a spokesperson for the SPFL said: “Of course, we will implement any instructions from the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, as public health remains the overwhelming priority.

“We have already made clear publicly and to the Scottish Government that there will be dire financial consequences for our clubs if matches are played behind closed doors or cancelled.

“We have written to all clubs advising them to examine their insurance arrangements in case of matches being affected.

“This is particularly important as the SPFL does not hold reserves. Every single penny of income from sponsorships, broadcast deals and cup revenue is already paid to the clubs as fees.”

MOTHERWELL midfielder David Turnbull has agreed a new one-year contract extension with the Fir Park outfit.

Last season’s PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year had been due to join Celtic in the summer as part of a £4million move – only for the discovery of a knee injury to scupper his dream move.

Turnbull is now heading back to full fitness after an eight-month lay-off and has repaid ‘Well for their support by signing a new deal which ties him to the club until 2022.

The youngster, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “As soon as I knew I was back, fit and ready to get some game time, I wanted to make sure my contract was sorted.

“I have been here a long time. I feel as if I owe the club and the supporters for the way I have been looked after and treated.

“I’ve missed most of this season, so this puts us back to pretty much where we were at this stage last year in terms of my deal, giving the club a little more protection as I was coming into the last year of my contract.

“All my focus now is on spending the next few weeks getting up to full fitness, get back to just playing and enjoying playing football for Motherwell.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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