I could break the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers, says Barnsley owner Paul Conway 

Barnsley owner Paul Conway insists he could break the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers if the SFA allowed him to purchase a majority stake in a Scottish club.

Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs are paying Deloitte to conduct a strategic review of the national game.

And dual ownership rules will be one of the areas placed under the spotlight in a quest to attract new money to the Scottish game.

Barnsley’s Paul Conway (left) wants to talk to cash-strapped clubs in the Scottish Premiership

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Conway’s Pacific Media Group already own Barnsley in England, AS Nancy in France, KV Oostende in Belgium, Den Bosch in Holland, Esbjerg in Denmark and FC Thun in Switzerland.

Their attempts to add Partick Thistle, Livingston or Dundee to the stable collapsed last year when the SFA capped the ceiling for owners of other clubs at 24.9 per cent.

Conway’s PMG acquired Oostende and turned the £1.7million purchase of Scotland defender Jack Hendry into a £4m profit from Club Brugge three months later.

He believes if they could apply the same data-led ‘Moneyball’ approach to transfers to a club in Scotland, they could finally give the Old Firm a run for their money.

‘If we had a Scottish club we could challenge the duopoly of Celtic and Rangers, 100 per cent,’ Conway told Sportsmail.

Conway insists he could challenge the duopoly of Old Firm if they had a Scottish club

‘Look at our Belgian example. With the lowest budget in the league at Oostende we finished fifth. We have a team now which is aged 24 to 27, we are competitive again this year – and why is that? It’s because our biggest cash flow source is player trading.

‘Think about it and the biggest shopping market in the world is just a few miles south of the border. So if you have a bunch of young attacking players, you can buy a medium-sized club and, through the trading profits, you can be competitive.

‘The way it is set up now, you have the Old Firm who have control of the league and no strategic investment is going to come in to these other clubs.

‘Part of the problem is that the Old Firm, as I understand it, don’t want to encourage inward investment because they have an anti-competitive duopoly.

‘You pick Hearts, Hibs or any other middle-sized clubs and they obviously can’t compete because of the difference in the matchday revenue.

‘But that can be fixed immediately if they are generating £10m to £15m of transfer profit like Oostende.

‘We got into Belgium and in our first year the transfer revenue was two times what we paid for the club the year before.

‘We sold Jack Hendry. We also sold Arthur Theate to Bologna in Italy for £6.5m after we got him on a free the year before.

‘So, if you bring in some strategic investor to recapitalise a team outside the Old Firm and these teams are generating transfer profits, guess what? The league is going to get a lot more competitive.

‘And that will dwarf anything you can do to make commercial improvements to the league. It will also give you a chance of greater TV rights.’

Conway’s consortium owns 80 per cent of Championship side Barnsley as well as several others

The aim of the Strategic Review led by Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs is to double the revenue available to Scottish clubs from £27m to more than £50m.

Aware of potential investors waiting in the wings, the American-based owners of four of the clubs want all options placed on the table – and dual ownership will be one of those in Phase Two of their study.

Warning that Scottish football will be left behind after Holland relaxed their rules enough to allow PMG to buy Den Bosch this summer, Conway added: ‘I will talk to anybody about this. Tell those clubs to give me a call or whatever works.

‘I spoke to the American guys at Dundee before. But I’m happy to talk to anyone about ideas for change.

‘We looked at probably four opportunities to buy a club in Scotland and eventually gave up. It just doesn’t work for us or anyone like us and we grew so fed up we moved on to four other countries.

‘We now have clubs in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland.

‘Scottish football is falling behind. And you either get on this bus or the league continues to suffer compared to the other leagues.

‘The Dutch league opened up to strategic investors in January and if you are an American investor you are certainly going to go into Holland way before you go into Scotland.’

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Thierry Henry insists his famous penalty disaster with Robert Pires should have been retaken

Thierry Henry says his famous penalty disaster with Robert Pires should have been retaken because the ball didn’t move from the spot.

The French pair are well-loved Arsenal legends but between them they managed to make a calamitous mess of a spot-kick when playing against Manchester City in 2005. 

Instead of taking a shot, Pires attempted to pass the ball to the on-rushing Henry but the midfielder missed his kick and City were able to clear before the referee awarded a free-kick.

Thierry Henry says his famous penalty disaster with Robert Pires should have been retaken because the ball didn’t move from the spot

Pires was meant to pass the ball to his Arsenal team-mate instead of shooting at goal

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But Henry said the penalty should have been retaken because Pires didn’t actually touch the ball before City defender Danny Mills cleared it away. 

‘That penalty should have been retaken, because the ball never moved from the spot,’ Henry told Sky Sports.

‘It didn’t, and I don’t know what the ref did or what Danny Mills was doing.

‘On that one, the only mistake I did was I didn’t do it. I should have passed it to Robert. We did it so many times in training, but in training everything is easy.

‘I thought the big man Robert wouldn’t have lost his composure. But he did. I don’t know why he tried to roll it.

‘If the goalkeeper went diving maybe I would have dummied it, but maybe I would have passed it back to Robert.’ 

Pires had actually netted from the spot earlier in the game and the Gunners held on to claim a 1-0 victory, meaning their later embarrassment did not cost them any points. 

But the Frenchman missed the ball and Manchester City were awarded a free-kick

Despite being Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer, Henry was not always on penalty duties. 

‘I gave a lot of penalties away to Edu on his last game, Lauren took some,’ the Frenchman added.

‘When the foul was on me I also gave it away. I didn’t have a problem [with others taking them], but it was my choice.’

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  • Henry: Pires penalty should have been retaken! | Video | Watch TV Show | Sky Sports

Franck Kessie is ‘prioritising a move to the Premier League’ when his AC Milan contract expires

AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie is reportedly keen on a move to the Premier League when his contract with the Italian club expires.

The 24-year-old’s current deal runs out at the end of this season, meaning that a decision is set to be made on his future by the January transfer window.

Kessie has been involved in all of Milan’s last five matches, starting four of them, having made 37 league Serie A appearances last season.

Franck Kessie is believed to be eyeing up a free transfer to the Premier League next summer

The Ivorian midfielder played at Anfield earlier this month in Milan’s Champions League match

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However, according to 90min, the Ivorian midfielder has rejected Milan’s latest contract offer and is instead prioritising a move to England next summer.

Kessie sees the style of play in the Premier League as suiting his game, and it is believed that Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are among the clubs keeping tabs on the situation.

It is likely he would also have suitors outside of England if he became a free agent, with PSG and Bayern Munich both enquiring about his availability in the past.

It’s reported that while talks are currently not making progress, Milan’s technical director Paolo Maldini has not yet given up hope of persuading Kessie to commit his future to the club.  

Speaking last week, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli stated his desire for the player to stay in Italy.

Head coach Stefano Pioli has insisted he wants Kessie to sign a new deal with the Italian club

‘I would like Kessie to sign,’ he told the Italian media. ‘The negotiations go on between the club and his agent, and I don’t think it’s the time to worry.

‘With Franck, I only talk about matters relating to the pitch and I always see him as positive and serene, there are no problems.’

The midfielder already has experience of playing English clubs, having played the full 90 minutes at Anfield earlier this month in Milan’s 3-2 Champions League defeat to Liverpool.

He also played the 180 minutes across two legs against Manchester United last season, in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Kessie had a busy summer, representing the Ivory Coast in the Tokyo Olympics. They were knocked out in the quarter-finals by the Spanish side that went on to win silver.

The 24-year-old represented the Ivory Coast at the Tokyo Olympics, reaching the last eight

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  • Milan transfers: Franck Kessie targeting Premier League move