Football: Venglos vows to stay on at Celtic

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The Independent Online
THE CELTIC coach, Dr Jozef Venglos, ended uncertainty over his future yesterday by committing himself to the Scottish champions until the end of next season. The news was tempered by the announcement that the defender Alan Stubbs will be seeking a transfer from the Glasgow club this summer.

Venglos had hinted that his days at Parkhead may be numbered - for health reasons - after Saturday's 5-0 victory over Dundee but the club said yesterday he is fit and ready to carry on for one more season.

"In view of recent speculation concerning the future of Dr Jozef Venglos as head coach, Celtic wishes to clarify both parties' position," Allan MacDonald, Celtic's acting chief executive, said. "Celtic has every confidence in Jozef Venglos and greatly appreciates his valuable contribution to the club. This is reflected in his decision to remain as head coach with Celtic, focusing the team's continuing efforts on winning the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Cup."

Venglos said: "I am pleased to agree to continue my work as head coach with Celtic for this season and next. During this period I will be assisting the club with its long-term plan. Our plans for next season are already moving forward."

After a shaky start, Venglos has won over the Celtic fans by guiding the club to within six points of Rangers at the top of the Premier League. With an Old Firm match at Parkhead still to come, there is a genuine belief that the club can retain the title they won under Wim Jansen last season.

Venglos appeared to cast doubt on his long term future at Celtic this weekend, when he spoke of the stress he was encountering in carrying out the role and the damage he feared to his health. He had initially said he would inform Celtic of his future plans after next Tuesday's match with Hearts at Tynecastle, but has moved swiftly to counter talk of a departure. With their 60,000 capacity stadium now complete and paid for, MacDonald has set his sights on turning the Glasgow club into one of the giants of Europe once more. That means scouring the world for talent and it is in that capacity Venglos may continue his work for the club after next season.

Stubbs, meanwhile, has criticised Celtic's outgoing chief executive, Fergus McCann, and pleaded with his replacement to let him leave Glasgow. Stubbs believes McCann went back on an agreement to allow him a move to England, where his wife Mandy returned with their two children a month ago.

The former Bolton player is currently out of the Celtic side with a foot injury but called on McCann's replacement, Allan MacDonald, to show more compassion when he takes over at Parkhead on 1 July.

"Family must come before football," he said. "I was badly let down by Fergus McCann, who gave me his word through Jock Brown that I could go back to England as long as Celtic were paid the same pounds 4m it cost to sign me.

"I'm now commuting between Glasgow and Liverpool to see my family whom I miss badly and that kind of situation cannot go on forever."

A bid from Aston Villa was turned down before the transfer deadline and struggling Everton are another club believed to be showing interest. "After Mr MacDonald was revealed as the new chief executive I had a meeting with him and explained the situation," Stubbs said.

"He seems to me to be a football man and as these are new times I hope something can be sorted out."

The Scottish Premier League are considering moving live television games from 6.05pm on Sundays to midday on Saturdays. The Sunday slot has come under fire from both players and supporters, with the Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, having been openly critical of the disruption it causes to teams' preparations. Rangers have been hard hit by the demands of Sky Television and are currently on a run of six consecutive Sunday matches.