Dalglish group withdraws Celtic bid

 

The consortium seeking control at Celtic yesterday made a tactical withdrawal of proposals the club had already rejected as an uneasy stalemate settled over the Parkhead take-over saga.

The group led by Kenny Dalglish, rock stars Jim Kerr and Bono and businessman Jim McAvoy released a statement making it clear it was retreating for now - but has not resigned its interest.

Yet the consortium admits that without managing director Fergus McCann, who holds a 50.3 per cent majority stake at Celtic, granting it a meeting it is powerless to make the further progress it craves.

Graeme Jack, spokesman for the consortium, said: "The proposals have been withdrawn simply because they were not accepted by the club.

"It's a major difficulty for us to prepare revised proposals in line with the majority shareholder if we are being denied discussions with him.

"One of the main areas is price and at the moment we are in the situation where it is like buying a sweet shop.

"We can stand outside and say to each other what it's worth, but until we get inside and find out what's on the shelves we cannot come up with an accurate figure.

"We cannot prepare further proposals until we have sensible dialogue. All we know is Fergus McCann has expressed a desire to sell the club and we still want to purchase."

Jack accepted there was frustration on the part of the consortium, but stressed the group's regret that the proposal cannot be advanced because of McCann's apparent reluctance to talk.

He added: "We have constructed a proposal in line with the consortium's make-up which has a very strong footballing theme running through it, but it is no longer up to us, we just want discussions.

"We believe now we have to take a step back to move a stride forward and we remain committed as has shown through already. I don't think I have ever seen Kenny Dalglish as he was on Sunday.

"We consider our approach to be on two themes. We are football people and it will be dignified, we don't want to affect the players' performances, but we want to stress our combination of football knowledge and financial acumen."

In a lengthy written statement the consortium addressed the specific criteria that Celtic had intimated were lacking in its proposals, which at no time have assumed the status of a formal bid.

The consortium has denounced McCann's reaction to it to date, commenting it has been "disappointed by the manner" of dealings all of which McCann has passed on to his advisers.

The statement read: "The consortium continues to believe its proposal was in the interests of Celtic PLC, its supporters, and shareholders, and regrets that the Board did not wish to enter into discussions.

"The consortium also recognises that without the support of Mr McCann in relation to his majority shareholding, any formal bid for the club could not succeed . . . that has always been a precondition to a bid."

The consortium emphasised its plans will best serve Celtic, with the resources required to launch a genuine challenge in European competition into the next century.

The statement went on: "To remain a top tier football club in today's market requires continued and significant investment, the best source of which is not necessarily supporter shareholders alone.

"As a result the consortium views the involvement of a professional investor with substantial resources as a major strength of the proposal.

Celtic last night offered a brief response which noted the withdrawal of the consortium's proposals without offering any encouragement as to whether future discussion can take place.

Brian Quinn, Celtic plc vice chairman and spokesman for the board, said with a hint of finality: "Celtic would like to thank the consortium for its interest in the club.

"The withdrawal of the proposal is an appropriate action in light of the Celtic board's unanimous and unreserved decision that the proposal could not be interpreted as being in the long-term interests of the club."

Celtic plc issued an additional statement which repeated its longheld stance that it backs managing director's McCann's original intention of returning the club to a broad base of its supporters.