England move would triple value of Celtic, says McCann

HE once turned a deaf ear to the boos … now Fergus McCann is casting his eyes to the future.

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Fergus McCann addresses the crowd at the unfurling of the league flag at Celtic Park in 1998
Fergus McCann addresses the crowd at the unfurling of the league flag at Celtic Park in 1998

And the saviour of Celtic believes the club he led to a safe playing field in cash terms could be invited into an expanded English Premier League.

He insists the cash from that move would triple the value of the club overnight.

The Bhoy from Croy who made his millions in Canada has confidence that the move to England will not be an impossible dream for a club that now dominates Scottish football but was 20 years ago on the brink of oblivion.

McCann, whose personal wealth was used to satisfy the demands of the Bank of Scotland in 1994, was famously booed when he unfurled the title flag in 1998 before leaving Scotland the next year.

In an interview granted to mark 20 years of his intervention at Parkhead, the businessman claims the boos in 98 did not faze him. He will be at Celtic Park in August to unfurl the league title as Celtic cruise to a third consecutive championship.

"It was disappointing but did not bother me greatly. People pay their money and have the right to applaud or boo as they wish," he says of the response to the flag ceremony in 1998.

The immediate future for the club includes the stroll to the SPFL title but McCann hopes bigger things may lie ahead.

Celtic have constantly been linked with a move to England and the man who once travelled to Celtic Park in the Croy supporters' bus believes fans could be given the chance to watch their heroes play in the richest league in the world.

"I would like to see the English Premier League expand and include Celtic," he says. "I think it could and should happen. It would triple the size of the club in financial terms, overnight."

McCann, who was vilified for his tightness with the purse strings at Celtic, would not comment directly on the financial troubles that have beset Rangers over the past two years.

After taking a 51% share in Celtic, McCann was compared unfavourably to Sir David Murray at Rangers and his free-spending philosophy.

Murray once said that he would spend a tenner to every fiver paid out by Celtic.

But McCann was measured in how he addressed a question about whether the cash crisis at Ibrox - that led to administration and then liquidation - had vindicated his strategy.

"Everybody wants to win all the time but not everybody can. Football clubs should be ambitious but have to manage risk. Many have not done this well," he says.

"And there is great temptation to do expensive, short-term deals. I worry about the effect of current owners who 'do not care what it costs' such as at Chelsea and Man City on the overall game."

The businessman thus fears for the future of some English clubs.

But the visionary perceives a future where Celtic can prosper with proper leadership in the same environment.

Football

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