Football: McCann steps up pressure on Farry

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FERGUS McCANN yesterday launched another attack on Jim Farry by criticising the Scottish Football Association chief executive's refusal to resign.

The Celtic managing director has urged other Scottish clubs to support Celtic's stance on the Farry issue when the matter is discussed at SFA executive committee level tomorrow and by the SFA council on Monday.

Farry continues to deny claims he mishandled the 1996 registration of Jorge Cadete, damaging Celtic's League and Scottish Cup prospects.

This is despite his suspension from the SFA in the wake of an independent inquiry which ruled in favour of Celtic.

McCann, speaking at a charity fund presentation yesterday, reiterated his impatience at Farry's decision to fight on. "For the sake of Scottish football I would like to see this thing over now because it has taken too long," he said.

"We have spent too much time to press for an issue that should never have required so much of our attention.

"I would hope all the other clubs recognise what we did was absolutely necessary. It was about the way football is governed and being able to rely upon the quality of professionalism, support, communications and decision-making that we expect of all the people in charge of the game."

McCann's own Celtic tenure is approaching its conclusion, and he made it clear that progress is being made on a hand-over he is keen to ensure matches his vision of the future.

"We are hoping to have a new person coming into my job fairly shortly with an overlap before I go which will be in the next few months. We are still trying to fill the general manager's position on the football side but in general terms we are going forward," he said.

Scottish Players' FA secretary Tony Higgins insists the SFA must learn the lessons of the Cadete saga, regardless of Farry's fate.

Higgins is concerned that too many members of SFA committees have no public persona to the point where the chief executive has the potential to become a scapegoat as well as a figurehead.

While reluctant to comment directly on Farry's role in the dispute with Celtic, Higgins agreed the three-year battle became too personalised.

He feels wider responsibility must be taken at SFA headquarters for the events which surrounded the delayed registration of Cadete.

"The players' union put some proposals to the SFA a couple of years ago because we feel there is a perception that one man, the chief executive, is responsible for everything.

"We believed then, and still do now, that the chairmen of all the relevant committees, from discipline to coaching, are seen to take responsibility for those individual areas.

"There seems to be the sense that everything emanates from the chief executive, and committee heads are not recognised by the public in the same way cabinet members would be under a prime minister.

"In my mind, irrespective of Farry losing his position or not, the SFA needs to have more public figures in future than their chief executive and the national coach."

Farry remains suspended on full pay with his future in the balance until a firm decision is taken by the SFA.

Celtic midfielder Morten Wieghorst, meanwhile, is optimistic of returning within the next month to offer a boost to his side's aim of denying rivals Rangers a domestic treble.

Although Celtic remain 10 points behind in the Scottish Premier League, their form is such that they cannot yet be ruled out of the equation even if time appears against them.

"I'm not holding back in training now. Quite how long it will be before I'm back in first-team action I don't know. I started training only just over a fortnight ago," Wieghorst said.

"I haven't spoken to [Celtic physio] Brian Scott about a date for resuming games. I had mentioned the end of March as a target date for full fitness and for having one or two games, but it's still too early to say that will come true."

Even so, the Danish international, involved at France 98 but injured in a pre-season friendly at Kilmarnock, accepts he needs to be sensible and make a gradual return.