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Celtic saviour McCann writes a letter from America to fans

IT is a dramatic letter from America.

FERGUS McCANN: Said that massive, unwavering  fan support was what set Celtic apart.
FERGUS McCANN: Said that massive, unwavering fan support was what set Celtic apart.

Fergus McCann, once the saviour of Celtic, has written from his home in Needham, Massachusetts, to urge lapsed Celtic season ticket holders to renew their briefs in a missive that runs to more than 1000 words and covers practical argument, emotional reminiscence and a committed exhortation for all Celtic supporters to attend matches in a season that will see three of Scotland biggest clubs - Rangers, Hearts and Hibernian - play in the SPFL Championships rather than in the Premiership, the top division.

Mr McCann, who saved the club from bankruptcy in 1994 before selling his shares in 1999, approached the club for permission to make the appeal in what he believes is a crucial period for the club. The letters will arrive at the fans' homes later this week.

The businessman presided over an era when a new stadium was built and there was a waiting list for season tickets and he says in his letter: "The rebuilt Celtic Park has 60,000 seats for a purpose. It was built on my belief that 60,000 at every home game would give the club a key advantage. And it has. The park is seen by visiting teams as a fortress where they face the handicap of a huge home support. Just look at the comparison of Celtic's home and away record in European competitions."

Mr McCann, who will renew his four season tickets, also tells supporters "unwavering, consistent, massive, real support is what sets Celtic apart" and points out the financial implications of season ticket sales. "Money is important," he writes. "Season ticket cash is essential for Celtic to buy players while TV income is a small fraction of that of the bottom club in the English Premier League. But not all-important. Personal attendance at every game - through and through - is a key part of our culture. It shows how important Celtic is in our lives."

Mr McCann has been a long-time Celtic supporter and his letter recalls his first game in 1954 when he was 13 and watched the Hoops take on East Fife in 1954. He left Scotland to make his fortune in Canada and admits he first time he saw his favourites win a league title was in the club's centenary year of 1988.

However, Celtic have now won three consecutive championships and are heavy favourites to lift the title next season, with the consequent belief among many fans that the destination of the SPFL Premiership is a foregone conclusion.

He tells fans in his letter: "We both know that you don't stop being a committed supporter of Celtic because the league doesn't include Rangers, or because you feel you could pick the few big games you want to attend. For years I went to 'unimportant games'. In fact, I was at every Celtic game, home and away, in the year before I emigrated to Canada."

Mr McCann was a regular ­traveller on the Croy Celtic Supporters' Club bus.

Mr McCann told The Herald he believed the hard work of the board had given Celtic a stable present with the foundation for an exciting future. "I am fully supportive of the way they are operating correctly in the very difficult environment that is Scottish football."

In his letter, he says: "You will be aware that clubs who overspend to buy success have paid a heavy price. Mistakes and bad management can lead to disaster. But the partnership of good management with committed supporters, not armchair 'fans' will pay off over time."

Mr McCann is aware the economic downturn has had an effect on the finances of many in Scotland, saying: "Now, I know that many supporters are under financial pressures, and you can say that it is easy for me to tell you that I have renewed my four seats in the Investors' Club in the North Stand - I can afford it. That is true. But if your current position is such that you just cannot do it, I completely understand."

But he urges everyone who can to support the club and its new manager, Ronny Deila, who was appointed on Friday.

Mr McCann's next attendance at Celtic Park will be when he unfurls the league flag at the first home SPFL match in August.

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