FOOTBALL: Rangers ready to pay out for Beck

Scottish round-up
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The Independent Online
Rangers and Celtic, the two arch rivals who are racing neck-and-neck for the league title, are about to pay the price of success.

Both are set to make important signings, Rangers to bring Mikkel Beck, the Danish striker to Ibrox, while Celtic will offer John Collins, their influential midfielder, a real incentive to re-sign for the club.

The Bosman ruling would enable Rangers to bring Beck to Ibrox for no transfer fee, but such is the desire to achieve an eighth successive title and keep Celtic at bay that Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, is likely to be tempted to make an offer for a player who could be useful in the title run-in. Presently, Rangers are operating without the services of a recognised strike-force following injuries to Gordon Durie and Ally McCoist and the departure of Mark Hateley to Queen's Park Rangers. Smith has the consolation of knowing that any fee paid would come back to the club tenfold in another Champions' League campaign.

Celtic, meanwhile, are thought to be ready to double the wages of Collins again in an effort to ward off poaching clubs who could pluck his talent from Scotland if his contract expires. The player is expected to re-sign this week.

Rangers came out better in the Tennent's Scottish Cup quarter-final draw on Saturday. The Ibrox club will visit Caledonian Thistle, of the Third Division, a third away tie following trips to play Keith and Clyde.

"You don't get to the quarter-finals unless you're a useful team, so we'll have them watched and show them respect," Smith said. However, the response from Steve Paterson, the Caledonian manager, was more downbeat. He said: "At least we'll have the chance to bow out of the Cup and concentrate on the league campaign. We're playing one of the biggest teams in Europe and I'll be happy just to keep the score down."

Celtic will face tougher opposition in Dundee United, the Cup winners of two years ago, since relegated to the First Division, who will be visitors to Celtic Park. The United manager, Billy Kirkwood, said: "It is a lucrative tie in a magnificent stadium and a semi-final place is at stake, so we'll give it our best shot."

The other ties have matched First Division St Johnstone with in-form Hearts, while Aberdeen await the winners of the Airdrie versus Forfar replay.

TENNENT'S SCOTTISH CUP Quarter-final draw: Celtic v Dundee United; Caledonian Thistle v Rangers; St Johnstone v Hearts; Aberdeen v Airdrie or Forfar. (Matches to be played on Saturday, 9 March).