| 15°C Dublin

Hayes believes his Celtic days over due to virus


GOING: Jonny Hayes has been released by Celtic. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

GOING: Jonny Hayes has been released by Celtic. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

GOING: Jonny Hayes has been released by Celtic. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Ireland international Jonny Hayes fears that his exit from Celtic is a consequence of the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bhoys revealed over the weekend that Hayes, along with Jozo Simunovic, would be released, Hayes leaving Parkhead after a third successive league title win.

He's not the only Irish player in Britain now facing an uncertain future as Athlone native Alan Sheehan was included on a list of 11 players released by League One side Lincoln City, following earlier departures for David McMillan (St Johnstone) and Conrad Logan (Mansfield).


Hayes, already linked with a move to Championship sides Stoke City, Preston and Cardiff City, says he had hoped to be kept on at Parkhead when his current deal ran out but that changed during the lay-off due to coronavirus and he's now a free agent.

"I spoke to Neil Lennon a couple of days before the Rangers game back in December. He was aware I was out of contract in six months and said he'd like me to stay," Hayes told Talksport.

"As the season went on, we had similar conversations. He was quite keen for me to stay and saw me as part of his plans. I had the same conversations with [assistant] John Kennedy. When it comes down to the decision being made this week, I don't know if the financial impact the virus has had on Scottish football has contributed to it or not.

"But I wasn't being phased out, I was still playing regularly, in the team or off the bench, up until this virus struck.

"It's always hard to think about leaving a club when you're heavily involved in the team," added Hayes.

However, the Cherry Orchard man says he hoped that a move away would see him play more games: he started just five of their 30 league games last season, though he was injured for a spell.

"Maybe if I stayed, I might not have got as much game time," he said. "I'm a little bit older now, it's probably better for me to go out and play a bit more regularly."

The versatile left-sided player made 68 Celtic appearances, a total which would have been higher had he not broken his leg during his first season.


Hayes was linked with a move to his previous club, Aberdeen, but Dons manager Derek McInnes says he's not in the market for new players until the status of his current squad is clarified.

"I'm well aware of Jonny's situation but we are not in a position where we are looking to bring any players at the minute until we know the lie of the land.

"No matter how good a player they are or how much we think they would add to the team," McInnes told the BBC.

"Jonny's association with the club and working with myself is obvious, but we need to concentrate on other matters at the minute, unfortunately.

"We are not in a position where we can bring players on, I am really just trying to safeguard the future and the securities of the players and staff we have got."