Celtic have agreed to pay all inhouse staff the equivalent of the new 'Living Wage' but accused politicians of hijacking the campaign for salary improvements at the club.

The Scottish Champions said it would pay around 180 employees a minimum of £7.85 per hour, the same as the Living Wage  but said it would not sign up to the scheme as it would mean "handing over decision making on salaries to another agency".

Celtic had been under pressure for over a year from sections of its own support, as well as campaigners and some politicians, to introduce a minimum of £7.65 per hour for all those employed by the club, even via outside contractors.

The club's board refused this at last year's annual general meeting, claiming it would cost in excess of £500,000 to implement.

However, at today's agm club chairman Ian Bankier said the board understood "this is an important issue and have listened" .

Mr Bankier also called on government to address national minimum wage, claiming Celtic "shouldn't be put in the position we are put in".

He added:  "We have a corporate responsibility to manage this club the best way possible.

"What we would do with that mantle on us is call on government to sort this thing out.  This is a hot potato for government and the current administration should be picking it up.

"Why is there such a difference, a 20% difference, between a living wage and the government (minimum wage)."

Chief executive Peter Lawwell said:  "We have been used. Our club has been used over this campaign by politicians and others. They have hitched their wagon to Celtic for the profile of their own political agenda.

"There is more and more evidence that there is more poverty and inequality in society and we would urge them, the people who have got the power, who have got the opportunity to change, to change it and not hitch their wagon to Celtic.

"We are a football club. We do so much in the community but we can't change government policy."

Around 180 staff, primarily involved in Celtic's retail section, will benefit from the rise. It will apply to all those directly employed by Celtic on a full-time basis but not those on zero-hour contracts or employed by outside contractors, mainly catering staff and most match-day stewards.

It is expected to cost Celtic around £350,000 to implement.

Jeanette Findlay, of the Celtic Trust, described the move as a positive "first step" but added the group would continue to push for full Living Wage accreditation.

Ms Findlay, who publicly ripped up a prepared speech on the issue after Mr Bankier's announcement, also said 10,000 people had signed a petition calling for the Living Wage introduction.

Mr Lawwell also targeted some of his ire at new Rangers powerbroker Mike Ashley's retail empire and its approach to salaries.

Labour leader Ed Miliband recently attacked the sportswear firm for its use of zero-hours contracts, where employers can hire staff with no guaranteed hours of work and no sick pay.

Claiming the terms and conditions of employees of Sports Direct were "less than ours", he added: "There are 180 of them, mainly in retail, which is a very competitive business.

"Ironically, the competitor is Sports Direct and we are getting the spotlight."

Ms Findlay said: "The chairman's announcement at the start of the AGM that the club is going to pay the Living Wage to all 'permanent' staff is welcome and we commend them for that. 

"However, Living Wage accreditation entails paying this rate to all staff and agreeing to an annual uprate.  The chairman's fears of 'losing control of an important part of the cost base of the company' are not well founded since the annual uprate is capped to 2% above the average increase in earnings and amounted to only 20p per hour this year. 

"However, they have taken the first step and we are sure that they will take the necessary final steps to become accredited and to enjoy the credit they deserve for that."