Thursday 14 December 2017

Celtic chief fears SPL extinction

Kieran Daley

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell yesterday painted a doomsday scenario for Scottish football as he raised the possibility of the game becoming extinct north of the English border.

Lawwell revealed his fears after the club's AGM at Celtic Park, where outgoing chairman John Reid told shareholders that he now questioned the sustainability of the game and claimed some "radical thinking" was needed.

Lawwell spoke about being unable to compete with the "ridiculous" transfer fees in England and further afield and highlighted the age-old issue of the lack of finance in Scotland, due mostly to poor television revenues.

"Manchester United have 300 million supporters around the world, while 1.4 billion watch the English Premier League. The EPL gets £1.4bn a year through TV. The new SPL deal, including international rights, will be worth £15m -- 1pc of the EPL deal.


"What follows from that is profile -- exposure, sponsorship values. That's what we're up against. So what we need to do is to provide an environment that will provide fresh investment to bring hope back into the game.

"Unless we do that, at some point there will be a breaking point," Lawwell said.

After Celtic shareholders questioned why chairman Dermot Desmond did not attend the AGM, manager Neil Lennon revealed that he was in regular contact with the billionaire.

"I speak to Mr Desmond at least once a week and he is as passionate about the club as I am," Lennon said.

"He gives me good advice and has also given me a talking down at times about my behaviour on the touchline or my demeanour.

"I spoke to him yesterday and he was asking about the players coming back from international duty. He is always looking for me to find a different angle, an edge. I guarantee he has the best interests of the team at heart."

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