McCann ready for bright future

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Fergus McCann, the Celtic managing director, yesterday mapped out an exciting future for his club - only 10 months after they almost collapsed.

McCann was speaking after it emerged that Celtic's share issue has been heavily over-subscribed by £4.4m. The Glasgow club are now putting together a second share issue to ensure they receive all the £13.8m pledged by almost 10,000 new would-be shareholders. McCann has vowed that his regime is on track to deliver a 60,000 all-seater stadium while admitting, too, that the manager, Tommy Burns, will be given his fair share because "the team must improve".

It is six years since Celtic last won a trophy and seven since they won the Scottish Premier Division championship. Asked if the share issue - the most successful ever by a British club - would help ensure Celtic will now compete in the same ball park astheir great rivals, Rangers, McCann replied: "I think that is clear. I don't only restrict it to Rangers. I see no reason why we can't compete with any football club in Britain.

"We've certainly competed with Rangers and excelled them in the past, and I hope those days come back. There have been a lot of things missing in the last few years in terms of capital, the stadium and a loss of direction."

McCann will not reveal how much of the cash raised by the share issue will go to the manager to buy new players, but he said he saw no reason why Celtic should not now consider bidding £3m, £4m or £5m for new blood. "It's happened at other clubs and that's the way football is going," he said.

Celtic had expected to raise £9.4m through the issue, with £4m coming from an Irish businesman, Dermot Desmond. But, with applications reaching almost 10,000, they were over-subscribed by £4.4m. Fans from all over the world applied including some from Ireland, North America, the Middle East and South Africa.

McCann revealed he has had to dilute his ordinary shareholding from an original 70 per cent stake to just 50 per cent to enable the club to become so widely-held.

The former Tottenham and Barcelona striker, Steve Archibald, could pull on his boots on Saturday to try to help his East Fife team to pursue Cup glory. He is almost six months into the player-manager's job at the Scottish Second Division outfit, who willput their promotion drive on the back-burner this weekend when they take on Ross County for a place in the last 16 of the Tennents Scottish Cup.

With two senior players, Willie Burns and David Beaton, out suspended, Archibald is pondering whether to select himself. The 38-year-old maintains a philosophical approach to his new career: "Enjoyment isn't the right word for football management. I'm still searching for the right word to sum it up."

Another former Scottish international, Doug Rougvie, once of Aberdeen and Chelsea, will miss Huntly's Scottish Cup third-round tie against Burntisland Shipyard Amateur on Saturday - because he will be in Tenerife. The 38-year-old defender booked his holiday four months ago without thinking that the Highland League club could be chasing a place in the last 16. "I've told the lads they must not lose - I want to play in the next round," he said.