Football: McCann steps up at Celtic: Canadian agrees deal with board and becomes chief executive

Click to follow
The Independent Online
CELTIC are today under new management after Fergus McCann, the Canadian millionaire, yesterday assumed the role of chief executive. Dominic Keene, a Glasgow businessman, was also co-opted on to the board as three members, David Smith, the deputy chairman, Chris White, and Michael Kelly stood down.

McCann flew into Glasgow from the United States in the morning and arrived at Celtic Park at 2.15pm, 25 minutes after Brian Dempsey, a member of his consortium, had confirmed a deal had been struck. However the legal niceties took longer to complete, with discussions continuing late into the night. The result was a board of six members: McCann, Keene, Kevin Kelly (who will continue as chairman), Tom Grant, Jimmy Farrell and Jack McGinn.

The events of the day brought to a head one of the most significant periods in the history of the club who were the first in Britain to win the European Cup - in 1967 - but who have been inexorably slipping towards oblivion for the last five years.

Of his appointment Keene said: 'I'm delighted to be in on the start of a new era at Celtic FC and I will be able to bring financial acumen to the board.'

His appointment, and that of McCann, should bring to an end the campaign waged by the 'Celts for Change' pressure group, who organised a successful boycott of last Tuesday's match against Kilmarnock which was watched by fewer than 10,000 spectators.

Yesterday's negotiations followed a series of dramatic events on Thursday night when the club came within minutes of being placed in the hands of the receiver. Only the intervention of Kevin Kelly and Brian Dempsey stalled the bank's actions, with Kelly claiming the club was 'in immediate and dire peril of being put into receivership'.

The Celtic board, after discussions with the Bank of Scotland, sought the immediate resignation of David Smith, the deputy chairman, and Chris White who, they claim, had kept the full financial plight of the club from the board.

The bank forced the issue and their preferred option was for the Dempsey-McCann consortium to be invited to help at the expense of another group of businessmen headed by Gerald Weisfeld and Willie Haughey.

Over the future of Celtic Park, McCann's preferred option will be to remain and rebuild rather than move to Cambuslang. He will now start his period of tenure with the backing and best wishes of the majority of Celtic supporters.

Anderton's pedigree, page 24