Celtic take firm line with Van Hooijdonk

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The Independent Online
Celtic yesterday ordered their Dutch striker, Pierre Van Hooijdonk, to toe the club line or leave Parkhead.

Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager, and his chairman, Fergus McCann, told a press conference at Parkhead that the Dutchman wants a transfer unless granted a wage increase.

"The player did ask for a move, unless his current contract, which was signed in good faith by both parties and still has 21 months to run, is immediately increased," McCann said. "The player knows that the club is willing to increase his earnings immediately - but only in return for an extension to his existing contract."

Van Hooijdonk hit out at Celtic in various media interviews over the weekend after he was left out of Saturday's Old Firm match with Rangers, despite being fit to play. However, yesterday Burns claimed that he would not have selected the 26-year-old against Rangers even if he had not been in dispute with the player.

"We played Rangers six times last season without winning and in that time you learn what works," Burns said. "He would not have been playing anyway."

Celtic claim that Van Hooijdonk has not been fulfilling various contractual duties such as speaking to the media and undertaking charity work. Asked what the player has to do to revive his Celtic career, after scoring 52 goals since arriving from NAC Breda in January 1995, Burns said: "Learn humility."

Burns and Van Hooijdonk spoke briefly when the latter came in for training, but the Dutchman left without comment. Ironically, he did have some good news yesterday. After an absence of almost two years, he was recalled to the Dutch squad for Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Wales.

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