Football: Deprived Celtic in the grip of winter

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The Independent Online
ON Saturday the weather took a toll on Scottish games for the first time this season, but for the board of directors at Celtic winter arrived on Friday night with the refusal to do business with Fergus McCann, the Canadian who was willing to inject large sums of money into the club. Their victory over McCann is certain to haunt them, if not now, then surely in the future.

For the Celtic board, the sun has long since ceased to shine. Smug satisfaction in preserving their own power is transient gratification, for the club creaks and heaves around them, threatening to crash about their ears.

Peel back the rhetoric in the suggestion on Saturday by a Glasgow lawyer that Partick Thistle are worth four times more than Celtic, and the reality of Celtic's plight hits home like a clenched fist. The only realistic proposal to acceding to the demands of the Taylor Report appears to be the refurbishment of Celtic Park, which will create a 35,000-seater stadium.

Asking Lou Macari, the recently appointed manager, to wheel and deal in the transfer market, was an admission of penury, yet the board through their action and inaction have allowed some pounds 10.5m to fly back over the Atlantic.

Already there are signs of instability among the board members. Jimmy Farrell has distanced himself from the blocking of McCann's bid to float a share issue and Tom Grant, the stadium director, has all but washed his hands of a proposed move to Cambuslang.

On Saturday the disgruntled among a crowd of 17,453 voiced their disapproval of the off-field events while rejoicing in a 2-0 win over Raith Rovers which stretched their unbeaten run to nine domestic games, a sequence which started on Macari's arrival. On the playing side, at least, the club is showing signs of improvement.

Gordon Durie was denied a goal on his debut for Rangers by the width of a Firhill post, and he and his new club were forced to settle for a draw with Partick Thistle. Aberdeen moved top of the Premier Division on goal difference with a 4-0 win over Hibernian.