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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Celtic chief McLeod resigns
Celtic chief Ian McLeod and Rangers' chairman John McClelland
Ian McLeod (left) had a public row with the Scottish Premier League

Controversial Celtic chief executive Ian McLeod is standing down as chief executive of the Scottish Premier League club's plc.

The announcement to the Stock Exchange comes only days after McLeod backed down over a challenge made to the date of the final Old Firm match of the season and on the eve of one of the club's biggest-ever weeks on the football field.

McLeod - he is top of Leeds United's shortlist to take over from Peter Ridsdale - will leave on the expiry of the initial period of his contract on 29 April.

He will also be resigning as a director of Celtic plc and from directorships of the club's subsidiary companies.

McLeod, in an official statement on the club's website, said: "I have been in discussion with the board in recent weeks and, after careful consideration, we have agreed that I will leave Celtic when my contract lapses at the end of April.

"It has been a privilege to be part of this club over such a successful period and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues who work incredibly hard both on and off the field for Celtic and for the support that they have given me.

Ian has made a significant contribution to the club
Celtic chairman Brian Quinn

"I would also like to express my appreciation to our tremendous fans that are a credit to Celtic.

"I wish Celtic every success in the future, particularly Martin O'Neill and the team as they continue their committed challenge for the SPL Championship and a place in the Uefa Cup final."

Celtic insist that the departure is "wholly amicable".

They say it had nothing to do with criticism McLeod received last week for saying that the decision by the SPL to schedule the match against Rangers for 27 April would be viewed as biased against Celtic by the club's fans.

Celtic were due to appeal against the decision but backed down after Strathclyde Police insisted that it was the best date to safeguard public safety.

McLeod was also seen as being more intransigent than Rangers chairman John McClelland during the recently-healed split between the Old Firm and the other 10 clubs in the SPL.

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said: "Ian has made a significant contribution to the club over the past two years and the board is grateful for his work during what have been challenging times.

"The search for a new chief executive is underway. Celtic, especially after the Uefa Cup run this season, is a major UK and global football club and we will be looking for a suitable candidate to continue the club's growth both on and off the park."

Temporary responsibility for McLeod's duties will be adopted by the company's financial director, Eric Riley, and other members of the company's senior management team.

Celtic face Boavista in the second leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final on Thursday and must beat Rangers three days later at Ibrox to revive their hopes of retaining the league title.

BBC football pundit Murdo McLeod
"Ian McLeod did a super job at Celtic"


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