French crisis a bonus for Celtic

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Celtic will face an easier task in the first leg of their Uefa Cup second round tie in Bordeaux tomorrow following the news that their opponents' Russian international Alexei Smertin has been ruled out with a knee injury.

Celtic will face an easier task in the first leg of their Uefa Cup second round tie in Bordeaux tomorrow following the news that their opponents' Russian international Alexei Smertin has been ruled out with a knee injury.

The midfielder has been a mainstay for the French team this season and his absence is a second blow to their coach, Elie Baup, who is also waiting on the fitness of Marc Wilmots. The Belgian international was forced to limp out of the weekend draw with Lyon with an ankle injury.

The Scottish Football Association is to ask the former Dundee United chairman, Jim McLean, to explain his actions during the recent assault on the BBC reporter John Barnes. McLean stepped down as Tannadice chairman after being angered by a question about the future of the Dundee United manager, Alex Smith, following the 4-0 home defeat by Hearts.

McLean has subsequently been charged by Tayside police as a result of the incident. But the SFA General Purposes Committee will wait until they have heard from McLean before making any further judgement on the incident.

"The SFA is to write to the former Dundee United chairman, Jim McLean, following the recent alleged assault on a BBC television reporter," an SFA statement said. "His response will be considered at the next meeting of the committee, scheduled for 12 December."

Meanwhile, the fans' pressure group, United for Change, have thrown their weight behind Eddie Thompson to replace McLean as chairman. "It will come as no surprise that Eddie Thompson remains our favoured candidate to acquire the shareholding," said their spokesman, Derek Robertson. Thompson has pledged to donate a proportion of shares to the Dundee United Supporters' Trust.

The Mayor of Zagreb has written to the SFA to praise the special atmosphere created by the Tartan Army at the recent World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Scotland. Almost 3,000 Scots travelled to the match and cheered Scotland to a 1-1 draw.

Writing to the SFA President, Jack McGinn, Mayor Milan Bandic said: "I would kindly ask you to convey my compliments to the visiting Scottish fans on their exemplary behaviour and sporting spirit in support of their team. This contributed to the exceptional atmosphere surrounding this great sporting event.

"The Scottish fans delighted the citizens of Zagreb, not only by the way they represented their national colours, but with their vivid and colourful national garb, which lent a special atmosphere in our city."

Kilmarnock have successfully applied to the Scottish Drugs Challenge Fund for an innovative drugs education scheme.

The programme combines a training schedule for four coaches, with a drugs education course delivered by Strathclyde Police and Barnardo's Drug Education Unit to all East Ayrshire primary schools.

"This project shows the level of commitment that Kilmarnock FC has to the community and, in particular, to children," said the club's community coach Eric Young."

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