Football: Bonnes exercises his freedom

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The Independent Online
CELTIC LAST night said that the French midfielder Stephane Bonnes has agreed a four-year deal to join them under freedom of contract from Mulhouse.

The 21-year-old, who impressed as a triallist during the Parkhead side's recent tour of Norway, had been desperate to leave the French Second Division club, which had struggled to pay his wages. He said: "I'm pleased I'm not going back to Mulhouse as I wasn't very happy there in my last two years, now I'm lucky to have this chance and I don't want to waste it."

Stilian Petrov is expected to have to wait until today to learn whether he has been granted a future with Celtic. The Bulgarian international midfielder, who signed a pre-contract agreement to join the club, had his first application for a work permit refused. An appeal to the Department for Education and Employment prompted a special hearing in Glasgow yesterday afternoon when an independent panel debated the case.

But their decision will only be a recommendation and for final approval Petrov's case needs to be ratified by Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities.

Celtic have agreed a pounds 2m fee with CSKA Sofia for Petrov, but as he has not played 75 per cent of his country's internationals in the past two years he was deemed ineligible. However, with the player only 19 at the time of the move, the club have argued that would be impossible and have asked for common sense to be applied given the player is now a regular starter for Bulgaria.

Partick Thistle's attempts to sign the Namibian international Quinton Jacobs will also be debated by the panel after his application for a permit was rejected because of his country's lowly Fifa status.

Meanwhile, the Celtic goalkeeper Stewart Kerr has been taken off the transfer list at his own request. The former Scotland Under-21 international has endured a miserable two seasons because of injury and the form of Jonathan Gould. The summer arrival of Dmitri Kharine from Chelsea under the Bosman Ruling looked to further restrict the 24-year-old Kerr's ambition, but he started for Celtic in Monday's 2-0 win at Newcastle and said yesterday: "I have asked Celtic to allow me the opportunity to get back into the team. I am very happy with this and I have been told I will get my chance. They could have shut the door in my face, but were receptive."

Kerr said the Celtic head coach, John Barnes, has applauded his decision to remain with the Glasgow club as they launch their renewed bid for honours this term. Barnes said: "No one is an automatic choice so Stewart has every chance and I'm delighted about this. We want quality players in all positions and having three international quality keepers puts us in a strong position."

The Scottish Premier League have formally approved Dundee's place in the top flight next season after the club's rebuilding work met its 31 July deadline. The Dens Park club had faced demotion if work on two new stands to take the capacity to 10,000 in the all-seater stadium had not been completed in time.

The SPL chief executive, Roger Mitchell, said: "To use a sanction against a club was never the best thing, and we're relieved that won't now happen. It would have been a disaster for them not to make the deadline, but now Dens Park will be a key centre for top- level football in Scotland. Dundee's owners, the Marr brothers, have done their club proud."

Dundee now plan to redevelop the ground's south enclosure at a projected cost of pounds 2.5m within the next two years if the funds can be raised.