CELTIC yesterday took the long-awaited steps towards greater financial

stability and marketing expertise which will give them a chance to

compete in the big new football world envisaged by the top clubs of this

country and abroad. The board at Parkhead have co-opted two new

directors, the high profile Dr Michael Kelly, former Lord Provost of

Glasgow -- he took office 10 years ago to the day -- and the hitherto

less well known property developer, Brian Dempsey.

Long-time Celtic fan Dempsey, the 42-year-old chairman of two building

companies -- Strathvale Homes and S & L Properties, which have a #20m

annual turnover -- spends #100,000 a season in corporate entertainment

at Parkhead, but also spends #25,000 a term in a box at Ibrox. His brief

will be to collate and determine the requirements for the new all-seated

stadium that will have to be erected at Parkhead to comply with the

Taylor Report.

''We have to do the research first; find out from the fans, the

companies, and the supporters' associations what they want to see

here,'' said Dempsey. ''Then it has to be costed and set alongside the

income that can be generated by the expansion of the marketing of the

brand name and so on. At that point, the big decisions will have to be


These ''big decisions'' will include whether or not the club will need

to go public to make up what Dempsey describes as the ''shortfall''

between foreseeable income and immediate expenditure. ''It may be an

option to make a partial extension of shares to selected individuals.''

It would be reasonable to assume that Mr Dempsey would be one of those

individuals. He expects to become a shareholder, but to what extent

remains to be seen. ''I may make the commercial judgment to invest at

that time, and obviously if that is so, I would hope to become involved

in any distribution of shares.''

Various estimates of the costs of constructing a twenty-first century

stadium on the familiar east-end site have been made, but anywhere

between #25m and #30m would seem a reasonable guess. The amount will be

determined by the market research which Mr Dempsey and Dr Kelly will

conduct shortly.

The timescale envisaged by Dempsey, who admits to learning from other

enterprises like that at Ibrox, would be around four years before the

''futuristic'' stadium could rise at Parkhead. ''I would think we would

need two years to establish exactly what is required and to gain all the

planning permissions. After that, a two-year building programme would be

necessary. That is only my personal guess.''

''All I would ask of Celtic supporters is that they be patient. It

will take time. If I have not delivered in the time I have stated, then

it would be fair to have a go at me. I have to get my feet under the

table first.''

Dempsey, who was brought up in Bellshill and went to the same school

as manager Billy McNeill -- Our Lady's High -- said that nothing should

be done to upset the team's preparation for the Scottish Cup final.

His fellow newcomer Michael Kelly, cousin of current director Kevin

Kelly, echoed those sentiments. ''Obviously the short-term priority is

to win the Scottish Cup. Any team that wins that hardly can say the

season has been a failure.''

The Kelly brief will be to expand the marketing targets for the club,

to make use of a brand name that has not been properly exploited, and to

indulge in his special talent for PR, an area which no one could dispute

has needed some improving at Parkhead.

He hopes that by the end of the year, the research will be done and

the beginning of serious moves into a whole new commercial era will have

taken root. The former provost found it fascinating that the

announcement coincided with his appointment to the senior post in

Glasgow ten years ago. ''This is an even greater challenge,'' he said.

Although he, too, has been a supporter in the stand for a long time he

reckons the new post will make life less enjoyable. ''The responsibiliy

will make sure of that.''

In terms of the financing of the new stadium, 49-year-old Kelly said:

''It is relatively easy to raise money, but the more you can increase

the revenue the less you have to find. The expansion of the brand name

is a priority, something we have to build on.''

The current crisis on the field and the rumours circulating about

manager Billy McNeill's future prompted him to echo the sentiments of

his fellow director, Dempsey, when he said: ''As far as I am aware, the

management is not an issue. It has not even been discussed.''

The decision by the board, explained by chairman Jack McGinn, to call

in ''extra hands'' will come as no surprise to observers of the Parkhead

scene, even if they might feel it has taken a long time to get to this

point. With the changing face of football, and the demands of the Taylor

Report, the board felt it necessary to bring in extra help. I am sure we

can all work together to build a successful future for the club.''

He didn't say so, but I imagine Dr Kelly would suggest they intend to

make Celtic miles better.