Football: WRIGHT WASTE OF MONEY; He's the Most Expensive Flop in Celts History

By Grahame, Ewing | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), February 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Football: WRIGHT WASTE OF MONEY; He's the Most Expensive Flop in Celts History


Grahame, Ewing, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


IAN WRIGHT didn't cost Celtic a penny in transfer cash when he left English First Division strugglers Nottingham Forest to move to Glasgow last October.

By the time the chat-show host left last night to take his act to Second Division promotion hopefuls Burnley, he had become arguably the most expensive striker in Celtic's history.

At 36 - he was older than John Barnes, the coach who signed him - the veteran striker had little left to offer when Celtic agreed to take on his weekly salary of pounds 20,000.

His last appearance, in the 3-0 win at Dens Park on Saturday, was his Parkhead career in microcosm.

Wright failed again to establish a rapport with top scorer Mark Viduka, was involved in a bad-tempered scuffle with Dundee's Barry Smith and rarely looked like scoring.

When he was eventually replaced by Scotland international Mark Burchill in the 72nd minute, he yet again made an elaborate show of kissing the badge on his jersey.

His four months as a Celtic player cost the club pounds 320,000 or, if you prefer, pounds 107,000 per goal.

Three goals in 10 appearances was the return for Barnes' investment. The first came on his debut, the final goal in a 5-1 trouncing of 10-man Kilmarnock on a day when he was fortunate to escape a red card for a forearm smash on Alan Mahood.

The last of the three came in the 7-0 rout of Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The only vital counter he notched was an equaliser in the 2-1 win over 10-man Hearts at Tynecastle on November 20.

He also has an SFA disciplinary hearing pending following a red card received in the tunnel following yet another disappointing display in the 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock last month.

Just prior to his own departure, Barnes attempted to deflect attention from his mate's absence from the first team, insisting he and not the striker was to blame for that. Well, duh.

Wright's lucrative spell in the SPL ultimately represents yet another piece of bad business for the financially disastrous Barnes-Kenny Dalglish reign and is unlikely to please the plc board's number crunchers when they inspect this season's accounts.

His earnings were reportedly a source of dressing-room dissent, as were his regular disappearances on the eve of matches to record his Channel 4 programme Friday Night's All Wright.

He was even given special dispensation to return early from the club's training camp in Portugal last month to fulfil his TV commitments.

One observer who was far from impressed by his winter of discontent in Glasgow is former Celtic and Scotland striker Frank McGarvey.

He said: "I'm very happy Wright has left the club and I say that as someone who was a great admirer of him when he was at his peak.

"He was brilliant then but he's a shadow of his former self now, not a 10th of the player he was.

"I watched him against Inverness Caledonian Thistle last week and there was no movement from him at all. He offered nothing.

"The problem is he's mentally and physically unfit, which is why he's continually being caught offside. …

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