FOLLOWING yesterday’s reports of the passing of Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill, the tributes for Celtic’s greatest-ever captain have continued to flood in. Archie Macpherson has commended McNeill’s achievements on the pitch, but has also pointed out the former Celtic defender’s ability as a broadcaster.

Andy Walker, who played under McNeill at Celtic, has called his former manager an ‘inspiration to the end’ and revealed that McNeill was a family friend for life. Speaking about McNeill’s relationship with the Celtic fans, Walker said: “Billy had such a relationship with the supporters. I have never seen or heard of that since.”

McNeill’s fellow Lisbon Lions John Clark and Bertie Auld have paid tribute to their former captain and noted the regard in which he was held in throughout world football. “He could go anywhere in the football world and be recognised because he was so well respected,” said Clark.

Matthew Lindsay has taken a look back at McNeill’s history with Celtic, calling the former defender a ‘colossus’ of Scottish football and reckons that Celtic will never have a greater ambassador for the club.

Rangers legend John Greig has paid an emotional and personal tribute to his old rival and friend, and has spoken of the shock he received when he heard the news of McNeill’s death. Greig said: “I knew Billy hadn’t been well for a while, but it is still a big, big shock when the inevitable happens. He was such an icon, such a big, big man. I keep picturing him in his playing days.”

Paul Murray, a former director at Rangers, has insisted that the club will not take any undue financial risks in its bid to stop Celtic securing ten league titles in a row. “We’ve got to get Rangers to the best level we can get them at,” said Murray. “And I don’t think anyone on the board is going to be taking undue risks to do that financially after everything that has happened to the club over the years.”

And Murray is convinced that progress has been made at Ibrox in the four years since Dave King took control of the club. Murray said: “I think we have made progress and in particular in the last 12 months. I think any fair minded person would say the club has progressed on the pitch and it has been down to relatively fine margins in key margins.”

Partick Thistle’s Championship survival hopes were given a huge boost last night when they won 1-0 at Ayr’s Somerset Park, thanks to a first-half Shea Gordon goal. Jags boss Gary Caldwell said: “We were the better team in the first half and we dug in during the second half when Ayr put us under pressure but we saw that out fairly comfortably.”

Falkirk manager Ray McKinnon, meanwhile, has insisted his side can still beat the drop despite languishing bottom of the table with two games to go. “There are six points to play for and we want them all,” said a defiant McKinnon. “Why can’t we? Why not? We’ll be drumming that into the players.”

The Scottish FA have begun the process of finding Alex McLeish’s successor and have revealed that the recruitment process for the next Scotland boss is well and truly underway. An SFA source said: “We can't drag our heels again in the same way we did when we were chasing Michael O'Neill last year. There is only a month-and-a-half until we go to Cyprus so a decision regarding the interim appointment one way or another needs to be made quickly.”

In rugby, Glasgow Warriors co-captains Callum Gibbins and Ryan Wilson are set to return to the first team ahead of this weekend’s eagerly-anticipated derby against Edinburgh. Warriors assistant coach Jason O’Halloran said: “We are hopeful both these players will be alright to play. We just have to tick a few boxes to make sure they are okay from a physical point of view.”

And O’Halloran has praised his players’ maturity ahead of Saturday’s match. “In rugby you talk a lot about honesty,” said O’Halloran. “We are mature enough to stab each other in the belly and demand performances out of each other. That was key to our victory over Leinster.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill, meanwhile, has urged his players to capitalise on the ‘unfair advantage’ that scheduling has brought his team. “We will know exactly what Benetton have done and haven’t done and we’ll know exactly what Scarlets and Dragons have done,” Cockerill pointed out.

In ice hockey, Glasgow Clan’s all-time top scorer Scott Pitt has agreed to return to the club for next season. “I really want to make it to the play-off finals and it’s something I’ve never managed to do in my time here,” said Pitt.

And in tennis, Aidan McHugh has revealed that he feels he can take inspiration from Tiger Woods’ recent Masters win as he looks to seal his big break in the sport. McHugh said: “I’ve been playing a bit more golf recently and I watched the Masters - Tiger was just unbelievable. I think that is an interesting lesson for me – it is a bit like Federer, he is very, very focused too.”

Elsewhere, the Daily Record are reporting that Celtic will pay tribute to Billy McNeill this weekend by wearing shorts with McNeill’s number 5 on them.

And Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster has told the Scottish Sun that Paul Heckingbottom has already exceeded her expectations as manager at the Leith club.