Football: Macari in need of funds for Parkhead restoration: Move to raise new share capital at Celtic facing defeat tonight. David McKinney reports

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The Independent Online
THE IMPOSSIBLE he achieved immediately, but for Lou Macari the miracle might take some time. Macari arrived as the new manager of Celtic on 27 October insisting he had no magic wand to take the club back to greatness, but in his first game in charge he pulled a considerable prize out of the hat.

At Ibrox, Celtic were drawing 1-1 with their arch rivals Rangers with two minutes remaining when the new boss sent in Brian O'Neil from the bench, and within seconds the substitute had scored the winner.

However, the pragmatic Scot refused to be beguiled by that result, and although his side are unbeaten in six League games, he knows they need reinforcements. Then there is tonight's extraordinary general meeting to consider.

'As manager, I'm only interested in the football side of things,' Macari said this week, 'and the results before I came told me what I had. The club haven't won anything for four years, haven't even been on the doorstep, and I have to look for the reasons why. I need to root out those who can't or don't want to do it for this club.'

Turning the club's fortunes around will take time, and Celtic's wage structure has further complicated things for Macari. 'In my time at the club the players felt underpaid and, perhaps out of a sense of grievance, we were successful,' he said. 'We earned good money by winning games and earning bonuses. If Jock Stein offered us a pounds 50 bonus to win a game it turned us into monsters. We would have killed for it.

'Now, the players are comfortable, the bonus not so important and the club is unsuccessful. I can appreciate the game has changed financially but it seems we are now paying people for being failures.'

Nevertheless, Macari seems comfortable in the manager's chair. He retains the cockiness that made him a top player, and clearly enjoys the challenge of restoring his former club to greatness.

Macari's clout - or lack of it - in the transfer market could be determined at tonight's EGM, at which Fergus McCann, the leader of an anti-board faction trying to take over the club, and Brian Dempsey will attempt to clear the way for a share issue, a cause helped yesterday by a strongly worded letter to shareholders from Jimmy Farrell, a club director.

'The company is in massive financial difficulty,' Farrell said, 'and an increase in share capital is necessary to ensure the very survival of the company. We have before us a very real offer of increased share capital from the Fergus McCann consortium.

'What we do not have is any alternative proposal from the board for raising further capital.'

Farrell's defection, however, will not disturb the balance of power enjoyed by the ruling five-member bloc within the Celtic board, who made an agreement to vote in concert so that they would be immune to takeover. Unless a board member with a substantial shareholding joins Farrell on the other side, McCann's bid looks certain to fail.

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