Football: Venglos intervenes in bonus dispute

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The Independent Online
JOZEF VENGLOS, the Celtic head coach, is to hold talks with the club's general manager, Jock Brown, in an attempt to end the players' dispute at Parkhead. However, Venglos will not disclose whether he is backing the squad, who are believed to be considering a boycott of promotional and commercial duties, as well as maintaining a refusal to talk to the media.

The action is allegedly under consideration following the rift that developed over bonus payments earlier in the week.

Tony Higgins, the secretary of the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association, is monitoring the situation. He intends to speak again to Tom Boyd at the beginning of next week after having a long discussion with the Celtic captain at the start of the dispute.

The wrangle is an unwanted distraction for Venglos as he prepares his team for tomorrow's match at Aberdeen. "I will speak to the general manager about the situation," he said. "I am backing the atmosphere of the dressing- room. I have an opinion and I will share it with the players.

"I have not really been informed of their situation. Everywhere in football different situations occur from day to day. If there are any problems, then they will be solved. It is always better to be calm.

"I see myself as a coach not a diplomat. You have to realise I am a new coach and this is a new atmosphere. When you are a coach you always hope to find a good dressing-room. The players are doing their duties very well."

Fergus McCann, Celtic's managing director, told his players to get "a reality check" after they complained about the size of the bonus pool, pounds 280,000, on offer for qualifying for the Champions' League.

McCann promptly donated pounds 50,000 of the figure to a sick children's ward at Glasgow's Yorkhill Hospital, with the players subsequently challenging him to do the same with the rest, which he did.

After refusing to speak to the press following the 1-0 victory over Croatia Zagreb, it now seems they are prepared to step up any action they feel will harm the club commercially.