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Matt Polster Rangers
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Report: Rangers sell one-time USMNT player Polster to New England

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An American abroad is coming home after an uneven time in Scotland.

Former Southern Illinois and Chicago Fire mainstay Matt Polster will return to Major League Soccer this summer with the New England Revolution.

Bruce Arena’s Revs will reportedly pony up about $375,000 to buy Polster from Rangers, where he signed on a free transfer in January 2019 following three-plus MLS seasons that saw him earn a USMNT cap.

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He was called up to two January camps for the U.S., going 90 minutes at right back against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. Polster was also a contributor to the U.S. Olympic qualification push in 2015.

Polster, 27, finishes his time with 10 appearances and an assist Steven Gerrard’s Glaswegian set, getting Scottish Premiership and Europa League experience this season.

A defensive midfielder and right back in MLS, Polster played only the latter with Rangers thanks to Scott Arfield, Ryan Jack, Steven Davis, and Glen Kamara chewing up minutes in the middle of the park.

Celtic declared Scottish champions as season canceled

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Celtic have been named the Scottish champions and Hearts have been relegated after the 2019-20 season was canceled.

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The Scottish Premiership had held a vote of its 12 clubs last month and amid plenty of infighting and appeals, led by second-placed Rangers, the decision to curtail the season and decide the table on a points-per-game basis stands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the Premiership clubs begrudgingly agreed there was no way they could play the final games of the season, with the Scottish government keeping strict lockdown orders in place and testing deemed unviable financially. The decision also allows $8.5 million to now be shared out among the 12 Premiership clubs.

Celtic have now won nine-straight Scottish titles (51 all-time) and Neil Lennon’s side have stayed pretty quiet throughout the very public voting process, although Celtic’s manager did previously share his view, along with captain Scott Brown, that the Hoops should be declared champs.

Was a Celtic title already a forgone conclusion? They were 13 points clear of Rangers (who had a game in hand) with eight games to go and unless they suffered an almighty collapse, they would have won the title. As for Hearts, they are said to be considering legal action after what they called an ‘unjust’ decision. Scotland’s other three professional leagues agreed to end last month.

After confirming the decision to cancel the season, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan explained what it just wasn’t possible to play out the games.

“Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to officially congratulate Celtic on their achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, and also to sincerely commiserate with Hearts on their relegation,” MacLennan said. “We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters. This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.

“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Ladbrokes Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.”

Celtic’s title win also means they will enter the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League at the first qualifying round.

Rangers finished in second place and will enter the Europa League in the second qualifying round, while Motherwell finished third and will enter in the first qualifying round and so too will fourth-place Aberdeen.

Rangers bid to investigate end of Scottish season rejected

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Scottish clubs on Tuesday voted to reject a resolution calling for an independent investigation into the decision to end the season for leagues below the top-tier Premiership because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The resolution, initially proposed by Rangers and backed by two other teams, was supported by 13 of the 40 clubs who voted. It required at least 75% of votes from each of the Premiership, the second-tier Championship, and the third and fourth tiers combined.

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The Scottish Professional Football League brought the season to a halt in the lower leagues in controversial manner last month following a much-criticized vote that plunged the Scottish game into acrimony. Final placings were determined by the average points per game of each club.

What proved to be the decisive vote, by second-tier Dundee, apparently did not reach the SPFL by an agreed deadline. Dundee was given extra time to make its decision and changed its vote, resulting in the cancellation of the leagues and ensuring end-of-season payments could be sent to clubs in the three lower divisions.

Rangers was among the clubs to strongly oppose the SPFL proposal. As was Hearts, which stands to be relegated from the Premiership if it is curtailed.

“It is clear that many members have lost confidence in the SPFL leadership and the need for change will not diminish,” Rangers said in a statement.

“The status quo cannot hold.”

Rangers said it appreciated the support of clubs who backed the resolution “and recognize your desire for increased accountability at the top of our national sport.”

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan urged unhappy clubs to move on, while promising to address their concerns at a later date.

“The last few weeks have been bruising ones for many people in our game,” he said. “Far too many words have been spoken and written which have sown anger and division amongst clubs. That is a matter of the deepest regret to very many people in our game, myself included.

“I know those who proposed this resolution will be disappointed, but I trust that everyone involved, on both sides of this argument, will now respect the clear, democratic and decisive result we have seen today and allow our game to move forward together.”

Celtic, which leads the Premiership by 13 points, welcomed the result of the vote and declared the club was satisfied there was “no evidence of any wrongdoing by the board or executive.”

“All of our energies,” Celtic said, “should be applied to planning for the return of the game in season 2020-21 and to the financial survival of all our clubs.”

Scottish FA extends suspension to June 10

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Scottish football has extended its COVID-19 suspension of activity until June 10.

That date is some six weeks longer than the initial expectation of April 30, and includes training.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

“The message is very clear: The government restrictions introduced to save lives must be adhered to and there is no prospect of an early resumption of training let alone organized football in Scotland for several weeks,” said a statement from the Scottish FA.

Celtic is running away with the title though there’s some minimal hope for stumbling Rangers, who have a match-in-hand as part of their 13-point deficit on Neil Lennon’s leaders.

The relegation picture is a lot cloudier. Hearts are in the automatic relegation spot with 23 points, four points back of playoff side Hamilton. St. Mirren and Ross County have 29 points.

The Scottish season traditionally divides into top six and bottom six after 33 matches, so there would be plenty of chances for teams to affect their fate.

Gerrard’s Rangers clinch place in Europa League Round of 16

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Steven Gerrard put another bullet line on his managerial resume with a place in the Europa League Round of 16.

Rangers kept an away clean sheet at Sporting Braga to win 1-0 on Wednesday, 4-2 on aggregate.

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Former Liverpool youth Ryan Kent was the goal scorer, giving him 13 goals and 13 assists in his two seasons in Glasgow.

“This is no fluke,” Gerrard preened. “This has come from sheer hard graft. We knew there was an opportunity. We need to enjoy tonight. We’ll be really proud when the draw is made.”

Gerrard admitted that the goal was to cede possession to the hosts, but keep the ball with their back five. Braga had 69 percent of the ball and a 13-9 edge in shots, but Rangers put five of nine shots on target.

Rangers reach the Round of 16 for the first time since 2011, when it lost to PSV Eindhoven 1-0 over two legs. The last time it went farther was the 2008 UEFA Cup Final loss to Zenit Saint-Petersburg.

Rangers are 12 points off Celtic with a match-in-hand in the race for the Scottish Premiership. Celtic will bid to move to the Round of 16 when they host Copenhagen on Thursday following a 1-1 draw in Denmark.