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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Celtic pursue league reforms
Celtic's Henrik Larsson celebrates a goal against FC Porto in last season's UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League helped boost Celtic's finances
Celtic has said it will continue to be "receptive to structural change" in Scottish football, as it seeks ways of boosting income.

Club chairman Brian Quinn admitted that Celtic - along with arch-rival Rangers - had looked into the possibility of joining the English Nationwide Football League.


We will continue to be receptive to structural change, while maintaining our stance of not abandoning Scottish football

Brian Quinn, chairman
Celtic also announced that they had nearly halved their debt burden over the past year, chopping it to 16.47m from 29.62m.

The improvement in the club's finances was helped by Celtic retaining the Scottish Premier League (SPL) title and qualifying for the group stage of the European Champions' League.

Financial pressures

Mr Quinn said the financial outlook for football had "deteriorated" over the past year.

He noted that TV income seemed "certain to decline in the near future", while players wages were still rising.

"A process of adjustment to the changed conditions has commenced but, undoubtedly, there is more to come."

Celtic - together with their Glasgow rivals Rangers - dominate the Scottish game and have been seeking ways to increase their income to compete on the European stage.

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
Celtic are making "every effort" to renew Martin O'Neill's contract

The clubs would earn more from TV rights if they played in England's Premiership, and speculation has been rampant in recent months that Celtic and Rangers will seek to break away from the SPL to compete south of the border.

Also, a row within the Scottish game over voting rights held by Celtic and Rangers has led the other 10 SPL clubs to say they will quit the league in two years time.

Mr Quinn said Celtic and Rangers had looked at joining the English Football League. but said the "possibility did not develop beyond an exploratory stage".

However, he refused to rule out future reforms.

"I believe the factors which prompted us to explore such possibilities will not disappear," he said.

"We will continue to be receptive to structural change, while maintaining our stance of not abandoning Scottish football."

Success on the pitch

Although Celtic has been frustrated in its attempts at reform, the team enjoyed a successful time on the pitch last season.

The club retained its SPL title, reached the final of the Scottish FA Cup, and the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup.

More importantly from the financial point of view, Celtic took part in the group stage of the lucrative European Champions' League for the first time ever.

This helped boost turnover from 42m last year to nearly 57m.

And the club trimmed its pre-tax losses to 2.97m from a loss of 11.19m the previous year.

Its debt reduction was helped by a share issue last year which raised 22.52m.

City reaction

Mr Quinn said Celtic would make "every effort" to renew team manager Martin O'Neill's contract.

His current deal expires next summer, but he has been linked with a number of jobs in England.

Last month there was speculation that he was close to taking over at Leeds after David O'Leary was sacked.

In the City, Celtic shares closed 0.5p lower at 48p on Wednesday.

The shares have, like those of many football clubs, proved poor performers in recent months, and topped 350p in April 1999.

See also:

01 Aug 02 | Business
16 May 02 | Business
28 Mar 02 | Business
26 Mar 02 | Business
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