Football: Celtic rule but chaos reigns: McGinlay brings relief on the pitch but boardroom turmoil casts shadow over a welcome victory

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The Independent Online
Celtic. . . .2

Dundee. . . .1

IT WAS a remarkable triumph under the circumstances. Celtic were without a manager, the assistants had walked out also, and chaos continues to reign in the boardroom of the Premier Division club.

Celtic's cause was not helped either when the local hero Charlie Nicholas, obviously disgusted by events which helped push Liam Brady and then his lieutenant, Joe Jordan, towards the exit, said he and his team-mates were being adversely affected by the turmoil into which this once mighty club had descended.

It is a nonsense for directors or anyone else to suggest players are immune to boardroom strife, especially on the grand scale which befits this club. Nevertheless, the players did their best to hold uncertainties in check and responded impressively enough against Dundee, though only after Billy Dodds had scored with a penalty after 53 minutes.

Celtic equalised through Gerry Creaney five minutes later and Brady's last signing, Billy McGinlay, hit the winner in the 63rd minute.

The win was met by only brief acclaim because the supporters - 16,994 represented Celtic's lowest crowd of the season - were preoccupied with screaming abuse at the directors. There were constant calls for the club's custodians to be sacked.

There were spells when Celtic looked a bit like their old selves,with the passes crisp and green-and-white hooped jerseys surging forward, but at the end of it all there was little cause for optimism.

The directors have looked around for others to blame and, now Brady and Jordan have departed, the players had to become the next fall guys. Celtic's vice-chairman, David Smith, arrogantly suggested, in the club's stormy annual general meeting on Friday night, that everything would be much brighter if play on the park was as good as work behind the scenes.

Celtic are a club on a downward spiral, with a pounds 4.7m debt they cannot pay. They have no money to invest in the quality of players required to challenge Rangers, and their stadium is old and creaking.

At least some are now working to break the hold and rid the club for ever of the family dynasty system. The directors operate under a protective voting pact which strengthens their position. However, the oldest director, James Farrell, broke ranks at Friday night's meeting.

He also voted against the re-election of Michael Kelly, probably the most unpopular figure in the developing power struggle. Enough shareholders remain on Kelly's side, however, and he came through, shaken but still a powerful part of the club's establishment.

Kelly and his allies on the board continue to pin all hope on a move to a new stadium in the Cambuslang area of Glasgow, but as yet they have still to reveal the financial package which will make that dream a reality, and the longer they persevere in this direction the more damage is being done to morale around them.

Others, especially the so- called 'rudder' shareholders led by Brian Dempsey and Fergus McCann, who was pledging pounds 9m of his own money to the cause, believe rebuilding Celtic Park is the only realistic option, and they are gaining support from the masses. It is significant that the directors are now willing to meet the rebels in advance of the extraordinary general meeting which was called for and granted at Friday's AGM. This move away from their previously intransigent stance suggests the establishment are beginning to see beyond personal requirements.

It is clear there will have to be a compromise on both sides before this club can be restored to health, and in the meantime the board will attempt to bring back Lou Macari, hoping he, as manager, will be able to inject fresh life into a team who are ailing, despite yesterday's success.

(Photograph omitted)

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