Football: New twist in Celtic conflict: Weisfeld's pounds 8m offer withdrawn

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The Independent Online
JUST when the Parkhead fans thought it might be all over, the struggle for control of Celtic turned nasty again yesterday. The millionaire businessman, Gerald Weisfeld, who had hoped to play a major role in the restructuring of the club, has withdrawn an offer of pounds 8m to help erase Celtic's huge debts.

Weisfeld, who has had two recent meetings with the new Parkhead chief executive, Fergus McCann, said yesterday that it had 'become increasingly clear that our approach was not welcome'.

McCann and his ally, Brian Dempsey, who between them gained control of Celtic two weeks ago, responded by expressing their disappointment at the public statements by Weisfeld and his associates, while asking him to 'reconsider his position'.

McCann and Dempsey made it clear yesterday that Weisfeld had sought a 50 per cent stake in Celtic, as well as the chairmanship of the club. They stated that Weisfeld's 'initial requirements could not be accommodated at this time.'

Weisfeld and his backers said: 'It is with considerable regret that we have to announce that we will not be joining the new board at Celtic FC, since we have been unable to have any meaningful talks with Fergus McCann.'

Celtic's rivals, Rangers, will play host to Manchester United, Newcastle United and David Platt's club, Sampdoria, in a pre-season tournament at Ibrox on 5 and 6 August.

The Norwich City manager, John Deehan, is to protest to the Nigerian Football Association, which has demanded the release of Efan Ekoku, the Norwich striker, later this month to join his country's preparations for the African Nations' Cup and the World Cup.

'We are very upset with the way they have handled it,' Deehan said. 'My understanding is that Efan is not due to play his first game until April so he's going to be kicking his heels for two weeks when he could have been having a game here.' Ekoku was with Nigeria last night as they lost 3-1 in Portugal to the club side, Vitoria Setubal.

Lawrie Sanchez, whose goal won the FA Cup for Wimbledon in 1988, has joined Swindon Town on a free transfer after over 300 appearances in 10 years with the Dons.

The season's final 12 Endsleigh League First Division games will all be played on Sunday 8 May, instead of the previous day, to accommodate ITV stations wishing to broadcast live coverage of the key matches.