Football: Celtic told to pay pounds 3m Viduka fee now

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THE FUTURE of Celtic's runaway striker Marko Viduka remained shrouded in mystery yesterday, as the Scottish champions were warned to pay the pounds 3m transfer fee to Croatia Zagreb for the player or face the consequences.

The Parkhead club's managing director, Fergus McCann, is currently taking legal advice over whether his club are obliged to pay the full fee after the Australian's disappearing act at the weekend. They are considering suing the player after he rejected Celtic's overtures to stay in Glasgow and returned to Zagreb complaining of depression and a need to rest.

The Croatia Zagreb president, Zlatko Canjuga, yesterday insisted he was expecting the full amount negotiated for Viduka's transfer in the next 24 hours. The player's Australian adviser, Bernie Mandic, said the striker is suffering from emotional burn-out. He suggested any Parkhead return will depend on how sympathetic the club are to his plight.

"At this point he has no desire to play on," Mandic said. "It depends on Celtic now - they have the final say. It depends on how understanding they are. He doesn't want to commit himself to any timescale - whether it be one week, five weeks or five months."

Croatian sources insist Viduka is fully aware of the consequences of his actions and believe he is unlikely to rush home to Australia at the moment while he considers his future. There are already claims that part of Viduka's dissatisfaction is connected to not receiving a percentage of the transfer fee from Celtic.

His former club, Melbourne Knights, are also awaiting developments with interest, given that they are understood to be due 10 per cent of future transfer fees involving the player.

The Celtic coach, Jozef Venglos, was as bemused as anyone yesterday about Viduka's extraordinary about-turn five days after arriving in Glasgow. "It is a sad situation," he said. "The club did everything they could for him, and that was correct."

The Coventry chairman, Bryan Richardson, could face a Football Association misconduct charge over his verbal attack on the referee, Steve Dunn, after Saturday's Premiership defeat at Wimbledon. Dunn said yesterday that he had included Richardson's comments in his report to Lancaster Gate after he had been confronted in the dressing-room at Selhurst Park after Coventry's 2-1 defeat.