FOOTBALL: Now Celts Can Act like Big Bhoys Again; SPORTS OPINION

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

FOOTBALL: Now Celts Can Act like Big Bhoys Again; SPORTS OPINION


Byline: JAMES TRAYNOR

IAN McLEOD might take up another post in football or return to the supermarket business but whoever takes the man on will be more than welcome to him.

Hopefully he'll say and do the right things and upset fewer people wherever he ends up.

His has hardly been wise counsel to Celtic recently and when it was announced yesterday that McLeod would be leaving, the fans were entitled to rejoice.

They certainly won't regard news of his departure as a disadvantage to the team in a critical week for the club.

Martin O'Neill's side take on Boavista in the second leg of the UEFA Cup semi- final tomorrow night but it is likely many fans will be happy to see the back of McLeod.

They didn't really take to him and some of the real powerbrokers within Parkhead may have felt uneasy when he came out with a bucket load of bilge. Maybe one or two felt this little man was becoming something of a loose cannon.

So there will be no new contract for McLeod whose current deal as chief executive expires on April 29, just two days after the Old Firm game which he complained so bitterly about.

His reaction to the SPL's decision to play the season's final Old Firm match this Sunday seemed to me to be irresponsible and the club's willingness to cut ties will be seen by many as the most appropriate and intelligent one.

The controversy caused by McLeod's claims of bias against Celtic within the SPL - which may have encouraged manager O'Neill to follow up with an outburst that Rangers would not have been ordered to play the final Old Firm game only two full days after a crucial European tie - did nothing to project the club's image in a proper light.

However, directors such as chairman Brian Quinn have finally made the correct moves to turn Celtic away from a course which has long seemed to be one of collision and controversy.

Although the usual bland statements accompanied news that McLeod's time with Celtic was over, I suspect Quinn and his fellow directors decided no further and unnecessary damage would be done to the club's image.

If, in fact, Quinn did take a lead in ending the McLeod connection then he has shown true leadership because any more claims like the ones being spouted almost two weeks ago would have widened the gap between the other SPL clubs and Celtic to a yawning chasm.

There is no doubt the terms used by McLeod in his reaction to being told Celtic would have to play at Ibrox this Sunday caused widespread annoyance, anger and upset but it seems some within the club may also have felt disgusted. …

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