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Monday, May 25, 1998 Published at 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK

Sport: Football

Keep Celtic alive and kicking: Kerr

The lead singer of Simple Minds has confirmed he is backing a consortium which wants to take over Celtic FC and could include the U2 frontman Bono.

Former Celtic director Brian Dempsey wants fans and shareholders to gain control of the majority shareholding of chairman Fergus McCann, who has pledged sell his £36m stake next year.

Kerr said: "I can confirm that I have been in discussion with Brian Dempsey with regard to Celtic's future. It is well known that I love this club and the people who support it.

[ image: Celtic won the Scottish premiership title this season for the first time since 1988]
Celtic won the Scottish premiership title this season for the first time since 1988
"I am delighted to support Brian Dempsey and others in our attempt to ensure that ownership of the club goes back to Celtic shareholders and supporters as Mr McCann promised it would."

It is also believed that Kerr has asked his friend Bono, the singer with U2, to join him in the consortium.

A close friend of Kerr's has been quoted saying the singer is "terrified" someone who has "not got a Celtic or Scottish or Irish background" would end up as a major shareholder.

"Jim has been concerned for a long time about the state of the club with its squabblings and unhappiness and has had ongoing discussions with Brian as to who will eventually control Celtic.

"He is monitoring the situation very closely and has contacted Bono who is also very interested in becoming a Celtic shareholder but to what degree we don't know because nobody knows what Fergus McCann's next moves will be."

The situation is complicated because Celtic are preparing to float on the stock market.

[ image: Fans were shocked when manager Wim Jansen resigned]
Fans were shocked when manager Wim Jansen resigned
They have already begun preparing to sell McCann's 51% holding to a mixture of fans and financial interests via the Japanese bank, Nomura, and Glasgow brokers Greig Middleton.

The move is designed to prevent a single individual or consortium taking control and this could be a stumbling block for the Jim Kerr-backed consortium.

Dempsey, a property developer with interests in the US and Caribbean, has insisted he does not want to take over Celtic, but merely to hold McCann to his five-year-old promise to redistribute his shares among Celtic fans and shareholders when he leaves the club.

"Our only hope is that the ownership of Celtic Football Club will eventually lie in the hands of real Celtic fans," he said.

[ image: General Manager Jock Brown: said to have rowed with Jansen]
General Manager Jock Brown: said to have rowed with Jansen
"The introduction of Nomura Bank into the Celtic scene is, I know, causing some concern to many Celtic supporters. It would be advantageous if Mr McCann spelt out clearly what his intentions are for the eventual handover.

"Both Jim Kerr and myself are life-long Celtic fans and we discuss the Celtic situation on a regular and ongoing basis. He has exactly the same concerns as me."

Another former Celtic director Willie Haughey is also believed to be involved in the takeover bid.

It is thought the Dempsey deal will provide a £20m pledge to let fans buy McCann's shares. His consortium would buy any unsold shares.

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