Football: Celtic seek new shape

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They have tried changing the manager, they have tried putting past players in charge, now Celtic are planning a completely new management structure in their quest to break Rangers' stranglehold on the Scottish league title.

The morning after the night that Tommy Burns learned that he had joined the ranks of unemployed managers after two and a half years in charge, Celtic's managing director Fergus McCann announced a new, continental look to the club. There will a general manager, with overall responsibility for all football activities, as well as a head coach in charge of the first team.

McCann said: "I want to make it clear that we have not approached anyone for either role. Take that to the bank. Speculation of course will be rife over who will be offered the positions, but what's new." Certainly nothing in the list of names already linked with the vacancy. All the usual suspects - Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Joe Kinnear - are on the notional list, although the bookmakers' favourite is the Scotland coach, Craig Brown.

"People will say Celtic must fill these posts now," McCann added. "However, we will research and screen all relevant individuals and act as quickly as circumstances allow but without compromising our decisions."

He said that in the end, Celtic would have "a new general manager, a new coach, a magnificent stadium and a solid financial base".

The news of Burns' dismissal broke Friday evening, after he had refused an alternative role at Parkhead. "We wanted him to mastermind a considerable programme that would be a developed model of the best features of the Ajax and Juventus systems," McCann said. "Regrettably he has decided not to accept the position. Tommy Burns is a man I have a lot of respect for. He has worked non-stop for the three years to take the team forward. He has achieved much in many areas and deserves credit for his commitment, enthusiasm and hard work."

However, the progress on the pitch was not enough for a big club, which these days also means a big business.

Assistant manager Billy Stark, whose future at Parkhead is unclear, will take charge of the team today when Celtic face Hibernian at Easter Road.