Football: Scottish Football: Celtic profits rise to pounds 6.75m

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The Independent Online
CELTIC INCREASED their operating profit by a third to pounds 6.75m last season despite losing the Scottish Premier League title to Rangers and failing to lift a trophy.

Celtic's turnover in the year to 30 June rose to pounds 33.8m, an increase of 21 per cent. However, profit before tax was just pounds 550,000 as net gains from player sales shrank to just pounds 347,000 from pounds 7.41m in the previous year.

Celtic's wage bill rose last season by more than 16 per cent to pounds 14.5m, and the club warned that wage costs would increase substantially in the coming year following moves to strengthen the first team.

Fergus McCann, Celtic's majority shareholder, stepped down as chairman and managing director earlier this year. He has said he wants to sell his shares to existing shareholders and season-ticket holders.

The Hibernian manager, Alex McLeish, promises that his lack of extensive Edinburgh derby day experience will not cause his side to falter in their meeting with Hearts at Easter Road today. He did emerge victorious when Hibs last faced the men from Tynecastle, but that memory is tinged with sadness as the season ended in relegation.

Their one-season exile in the First Division meant the absence of the Edinburgh derby last term, but Hibs are full of confidence after an encouraging start on their return to the top flight .

"I have experienced the passion of an Old Firm derby, even though I didn't play in one," said McLeish. "I was involved in the Edinburgh match in my first year at Hibs and felt the adrenalin rush which seems to accompany the game.

"The passion is just as fierce as an Old Firm game but I have to make sure my players keep on an even keel. It is important they do not burn away all their energy by becoming tense and working themselves up too much."

McLeish has a clean bill of health and is expected to retain the side which recorded an entertaining 4-3 victory over Dundee at Dens Park tomorrow.

The Aberdeen manager, Ebbe Skovdahl, has identified two players he believes can turn the club's fortunes around. Skovdahl has tabled a bid, understood to be around pounds 250,000, for the Molde defender Knut Anders Fostervold, and he is also anxious to take the Newcastle wing-back Des Hamilton on loan once the player has recovered from a knee injury suffered in a pre-season friendly against Stoke.

Molde, who are close behind Rosenborg in the Norwegian title race, want the Dons to increase their offer for Fostervold, and Skovdahl looks to have a better chance with the Hamilton deal. The former Bradford City player was Kenny Dalglish's first signing at Newcastle, but he does not feature in Ruud Gullit's plans and has not been allocated a squad number this season.

The Aberdeen fans are already growing impatient after a start to the season that has yet to bring the first goal and first point.

The Dons entertain Dundee today and Skovdahl is refusing to panic. "Patience is vital at this moment," he said. "We know there is pressure on us after a bad start but we have to learn to live with it."

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