A new regime was

installed late last night at Celtic after the extraordinary boardroom

coup. It broke a century of control for one family, but promised to

restore the club to former glories.

Scots-Canadian Fergus McCann and Glasgow businesman Brian Dempsey, who

head the takeover consortium, however, warned that no magical wand

exists and that supporters must be patient: the depth of the club's

deep-rooted problems has still to be fully plumbed.

They argued Celtic's financial plight was such that they had moved to

prevent the club from collapse, and would require time to take prudent

rather than rash decisions on the way ahead.

Vice-chairman David Smith; club secretary and largest shareholder

Chris White; and director Michael Kelly have been ousted -- their 23%

shares in the club sold to the rebel group, bringing to a close a long

and acrimonious power struggle.

The departure of Mr White, son of former chairman, the late Desmond

White, means one of the three family dynasties which have ruled over

Celtic for 106 years has gone.

The takeover was officially confirmed at 10.45 last night, some 13

hours after the seven-strong board was called to an emergency meeting

because of a 24-hour deadline set by the club's bankers to resolve its

perilous financial position.

The Bank of Scotland had threatened receivership unless action to

reduce the reputed #9m overdraft was taken.

Club chairman Kevin Kelly, who has retained his position, announced

all matters have been resolved, including the three resignations. He

thanked them for their contributions made to the club over the years.

Mr Kelly, cousin of ousted Michael, said he had no problems with

working with the new board. He denied there was any split in the family,

and added: ''There has to be a way forward and a new era. This is what


Mr McCann, the new chief executive, now has at least 50% control, but

reiterated an earlier promise to relinquish such power within five


Along with Mr Dempsey, he warned he would be a hard task master

because they were not men with small ambitions.

Sources told The Herald that the ousted directors will each receive

#100 a share -- that is #200 a share less than offered last month by

another rebel pact not involved in yesterday's deal.

It means Mr White, who has 14.25% of the club's shareholding, will

receive nearly #300,000 compared with almost #900,000 if he had quit


Mr Smith and Mr Michael Kelly respectively walk out with #95,300 and

#66,500 -- a victory for the Dempsey-McCann consortium, who have always

insisted outgoing directors should not profit ''from failure''.

Mr Dempsey, who intervened on Thursday night to pull Celtic back from

the brink of receivership with an immediate pledge of #1m to the bank,

emphasised that no overnight change in club fortunes will occur.

He said: ''We did not have the luxury to meander through issues that

have caused concern at Celtic. The issue was to keep Celtic alive, and

the answer was yes.''

The new board's immediate role was to demonstrate to fans that new

opportunities and a new future exist.

Mr McCann agreed; time was needed to analyse the position, and he

admitted that no money for the playing side will be immediately


However, he stressed the club's financial predicament has been

resolved: ''The club is now in safe hands and the financial position of

the club is now secure.''

Mr McCann -- who described yesterday's events as a ''complete and

utter victory -- confirmed his original #17.8m rescue package rejected

by the old regime last year still stands.

It would appear about #8m of his own money will be put into the club,

with much of the rest raised via a restructuring including a shares

issue aimed at supporters. The package will be put to a shareholders'

egm to be called soon.

He will take over as club chief executive on Monday, and expects to

move to Scotland soon afterwards.

Mr McCann said: ''My message to the fans is sympathy and appreciation.

They have tolerated so much and put up with a terrible situation for so

long. I would urge them to get behind the club again and morale will

quickly rise.''

He said he was prepared to talk to millionaire businessman Gerald

Weisfeld with a view to encouraging him to investing in the Parkhead

club. Mr Weisfeld failed in a bid last month to oust five directors by

offering them #300 a share.

Mr Dempsey will not have a seat on the new board, despite launching

his power struggle when ousted after six months in 1990.

He claimed subsequent actions were not personally motivated, but based

on a desire to restore Celtic's fortunes.

Surprisingly, Mr Dempsey did not rule out a move to Cambuslang; he

said everything connected with the club is only subject of review.

Asked whether the job of manager, Lou Macari, was on the line, Mr

Dempsey said: ''That doesn't come into question at this time.''

There was a delay over an official announcement of the new board as

lawyers examined the small print of the coup.

This was to ensure the transfer of power was watertight and could not

be challenged at a later date by ousted directors.

Mr Kevin Kelly remains as chairman, with directors Tom Grant, James

Farrell, and Jack McGinn also staying on the board despite complaints

from some Celtic fans that they should have known about the club's

declining fortunes.

Also co-opted on to the board will be former Edinburgh banker Dominic

Keane, long associated with the rebel faction.

The board has been reduced in size from seven to six. That may suggest

a place is being held for Mr Weisfeld, the former owner of the What

Everyone Wants chain.

Mr Smith, who joined the board in February 1990, was appointed deputy

chairman because of his business acumen and City contacts.

However, not only did he preside over alarming losses, his ''visionary

package'' launched a week ago to relocate Celtic Park in Cambuslang and

float the business was ridiculed by the media and, even worse, the

club's bank was not prepared to go along with it.

Mr Smith, when he flew in from London where he works, had said he

would not resign. But a spokesman for Mr Smith acknowledged defeat when

he said: ''He has no more rabbits to pull out of the hat.''

The official, who also speaks for Mr Patrick Nally, of StadiVarios,

the company charged with raising finance for the Cambuslang project,

said he was shocked by the turn of events that jeopardised the scheme,

one of six in the UK involving Superstadia Ltd for sporting arenas.

Former Lord Provost Michael Kelly's removal coincided with his Glasgow

public relations firm losing one of its most important clients --


None of the ousted directors would comment yesterday, and they were

still locked in talks with financial and legal advisers last night.

Negotiations with the trio lasted all day after an emergency board

meeting was called.

Messrs Kelly, Grant, Farrell, and McGinn had been told the club was in

''immediate and dire peril'' of being put into receivership. They were

given 24 hours to pledge all their shares and proxies against the

mounting overdraft, and sought an accommodation with the McCann-Dempsey

consortium. It has already pledged #1m, with #5m to follow on Wednesday.

The final straw for the bank was the revelation that only a

conditional agreement, in principle, to provide guarantees of up to #20m

towards construction costs of a #50m Cambuslang stadium was in place.

The new regime is likely to remain at Parkhead, where money will be

made available to make Celtic Park an all-seater stadium.

Mr Smith's grandiose plan to relocate Celtic collapsed after a

spokesman for little known Geneva-based merchant banker, Gefinor, denied

it had any involvement in the project.

Directors arrived at Celtic Park up to an hour early for the scheduled

10am board meeting.

Shortly after 2pm, Celtic's new saviour arrived. However, it is

doubtful whether the slightly built Canadian-based tycoon expected quite

such a welcome.

His arrival sparked a frenzied response from the group of about 100

fans, who had been camped outside the stadium. They immediately broke

into song.

Despite the icy wind and rain, the numbers outside the stadium

continued to swell.

There was a further flurry of excitement just after 4pm when Mr McGinn

left the stadium via a rear door and into a waiting car which sped off.

His sudden departure aroused speculation that he, too, had been ousted

but it was later revealed that his departure was due to UEFA commitments

in Geneva.

The growing unease among the fans was appeased an hour later when new

director, Dominic Keane, came outside.

Mr Keane delighted his captive audience by predicting a swift return

to the glory days. ''I am absolutely confident that under Brian and

Fergus Celtic can only go one way and that's to the top.

''It will all fall together and bring Celtic back to the great days,

not only in Scotland but Europe.''

The director remained optimistic that his financial acumen gleaned

from more than 21 years in the banking world would prove invaluable in

improving Celtic's standing within the business community.

Earlier Matt McGlone, who spearheaded the Celts for Change campaign,

said that he was absolutely ecstatic by the day's developments. In fact,

he went as far as to say it was the best day in his life.

He described the ousting of the three board members as a victory for

every Celtic fan although he voiced regret that there was not a ''clean


''There can be no respect for the board members who have remained.''

The Celtic for Change campaign had booked the City Halls in

Candleriggs, Glasgow, for a rally on Monday night with Mr Dempsey and Mr

McCann invited to speak. This event, Mr McGlone said, would now become a

victory rally.''

Earlier, Celtic player Charlie Nicholas warned fans not to expect

miracles overnight.

Speaking after training, he said: ''There is no guarantee for

immediate success. However there is certainly more hope with a man like

Brian Dempsey heavily involved.''

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