Dalglish heads team bidding for Celtic

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The Independent Online
KENNY DALGLISH and the rock star Jim Kerr are about to join the ranks of millionaires who have let their hearts rule their wallets after they announced an pounds 80m bid for Glasgow Celtic yesterday.

One of Kerr's greatest regrets when his band, Simple Minds, played gigs in Glasgow, was that safety rules meant it had to play at Ibrox stadium, the home of his team's greatest rivals, Rangers.

The two want to take over from Fergus McCann, a Celtic fan ruled less by his heart than his head, who returned from Canada to bail out the team four and a half years ago. The interest of the consortium caused the team's share price to increase by a third yesterday.

Dalglish was raised a Rangers fan, but signed for Celtic as a schoolboy in 1968 and became one of its leading goalscorers, playing 324 games as well as holding the national record for Scottish caps.

His transfer to Liverpool in 1977 for a national transfer record of pounds 400,000 broke a million Celtic hearts and his return as manager has been whispered about fondly during the years of Rangers' domination of Scottish football.

Now he is seen as the leader of a second revolution at Celtic. Despite rebuilding Celtic Park as Britain's biggest club stadium and putting an end to Rangers' nine-year grip on the Scottish Premier Division, Mr McCann, the chairman, is unpopular with the fans.

The diminutive Scotsman has a habit of interfering in the football side of the club and driving out successful players and managers. Wim Jansen, the manager who took Celtic to their first victory in the Premier League for 10 years last year, left the team at the end of the season because he did not get on with the chairman and his football adviser, Jock Brown.

Worse, Mr McCann is perceived by the fans as parsimonious when compared with the largesse Rangers has used to attract world-class players.

The combination of Dalglish and Kerr was welcomed by Celtic fans yesterday despite the fact that Dalglish began life as a Rangers fan himself and was recently linked as a consultant to a company owned by David Murray, chairman of Rangers.

Dalglish and Kerr are planning to add their own money to backing from the city to the bid and Dalglish is expected to take a role in the football side of the club. Fans have also been tempted by the consortium talking up a pounds 10m buying fund for players if they take control.

Mr McCann, who owns 51 per cent of the stock, plans to sell his interest and return to Canada after the completion next March of a "five-year plan" to transform the club.

However, he has said he wants to sell to existing shareholders and season- ticket holders. He said yesterday that there had been an approach from Dalglish and Kerr, but the bid seemed to undervalue the club. Nevertheless Dalglish's emotional links to the team could help swing shareholding fans behind his consortium in any future fight for the club.

Fans immediately welcomed news of the bid. Peter Rafferty, who heads the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs, reckons it would be an overdue second Parkhead revolution.

He said: "My immediate reaction to this news is very, very favourable. It is one of the most positive things I have heard about Celtic in the past five years. Kenny Dalglish should be able to attract major players to the club and put us back where we belong."