Scottish Football: Celtic try to sort out Macari deal

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THERE seems little doubt that Lou Macari will become the next manager of Celtic, writes David McKinney. He wants to return to Glasgow and is the club's first choice to replace Liam Brady, and all that remains to be settled is the amount of compensation required to prise him from Stoke City.

However, talks between the clubs ended in stalemate again yesterday with Celtic still without permission to talk to Macari, who has the option of forcing the issue, should he wish, by resigning.

Michael Kelly, a Celtic director, said: 'We recognise the need to pay compensation and I'm sure something will be sorted out over the weekend, although nothing is likely to happen until after Saturday. However, I would like to think Lou Macari would lead Celtic into Wednesday's Uefa Cup tie against Sporting Lisbon.'

Celtic yesterday received good news from Uefa: the capacity for their European tie has been raised from 23,000 to 42,000, following representations from both the club and the Scottish Football Association. Uefa has further agreed to look at the European situation on a game-by-game basis.

With Macari still not at the helm, the coach, Frank Connor, again picks the Celtic side to face the Premier Division pace-setters, Hibernian, at Easter Road - a game in which another defeat would leave Celtic six points off the pace. The strikers, Frank McAvennie and Andy Payton, are both out along with the midfielder, Brian O'Neil, who withdrew from the midweek Under-21 game in Italy.

Hibs, meanwhile, are ignoring the prospect of the League Cup final with Rangers next week and focusing on the other half of the Old Firm. Their manager, Alex Miller, said: 'I would expect the possible introduction of Lou Macari to really stir Celtic up. But it doesn't matter who is in charge - just as long as we take charge of the game.'