O’Neill believes Keane situation will be resolved by Wednesday

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell says Corkman just one name on the shortlist

 
Roy Keane

prime example of Dermot Desmond’s business acumen as the Irish team touched down yesterday after travelling for tonight’s friendly international against Italy in Craven Cottage. Celtic’s majority shareholder bought London City airport for less than €30 million in 1995 and sold it a little over a decade later for more than 30 times that.

The billionaire, Keane might reflect, knows a good thing when he sees it.

That Desmond now wants Roy Keane to manage Celtic is pretty clear at this stage and, with Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill sounding confident yesterday the situation will be resolved one way or the other by Wednesday when the squad flies to the United States, it seems likely the various parties will continue what the northerner described as the “process” over the weekend here in London.

Whether Keane does indeed succeed Neil Lennon, however, remained uncertain last night, with the apparent opposition of Celtic’s influential chief executive Peter Lawwell to the move one potential stumbling block, and the sense the Corkman might turn the job down anyway if and when he is formally offered it another.

Lawwell confirmed yesterday morning Keane is in the running for the job and while his suggestion the Irishman was just one of a shortlist “five to 10” long seems just a little far-fetched – just as is his suggested timeframe for events unfolding over “the next week or two” is pushing it given the club’s first Champions League qualifying game is barely six away – it may reflect the desire of the man to keep the club’s options open.

Such glamour

A long-time fan of the club, he rebuffed the offer of a similar role at Arsenal to stay on six years ago and now oversees an organisation that is debt-free and profitable.

Lawwell is believed in Scotland to be opposed to appointing Keane, even if he did yesterday describe the Corkman as “a first class guy”.

If Lawwell really feels strongly about it then it is open to question whether Desmond would impose the former Manchester United star on him.

Even if he does, there is a suspicion Keane might well think twice about working under a man whose influence is felt in every area of a club where controlling costs remains a priority.

Keane’s own income would certainly be boosted by the move. Neil Lennon is estimated to have earned around €930,000 per annum, while it is believed Keane’s salary is about half that.

The advice of O’Neill, who worked with Lawwell but is generally believed to have had a strained relationship with him by the time he left the club in 2005, could be critically important as he weighs up options that, the northerner insists, include other club offers.

Spoken publicly

A definitive outcome of some sort should be fairly close at hand, however. “I imagine that in the next few days the situation will resolve itself,” he observed. “Whether it goes into Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, we are not actually leaving until Wednesday.

“I would imagine that the situation would be sorted by then. Celtic are actively seeking a manager and they have a certain number of days to try and do something because they will want a man in place for when they come back for pre-season, so I imagine before we travel to America that something will have happened.

“We would be all be very, very sorry to see him go if indeed he did so,” he added, “but there’s nothing definite yet.”

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