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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Dr Prudence and Mr Controversy
By Clive Lindsay
BBC Sport

Ian McLeod's departure from Celtic will be greeted with glee not only at Leeds United but in some rival boardrooms in the Scottish Premier League.

And it will lead to further speculation that former Football Association chief executive Adam Crozier will find his way into power at the club he supported as a boy.

McLeod, who has just announced his resignation from that role at Celtic, has courted much controversy while in Glasgow's East End.

But he has been praised for the way that he has handled the club's finances during his two-year spell and has such strong links with the city of Leeds that it appears likely that he will be called upon to do a spot of crisis management at Elland Road.

What is not so certain is that McLeod's relationship with Martin O'Neill is sufficiently healthy to lead to the assumption, and that appears to be the prevailing wisdom in Yorkshire, that the Celtic manager will follow his path back south.

Celtic chief executive Ian McLeod
Ian McLeod is likely to realise Premiership dreams before Celtic

Harvard graduate McLeod made his reputation with Leeds-based supermarket giant Asda and was promoted to the executive board in 2000 following the takeover by Wal-Mart.

While his wife and family continue to live in Leeds, the Scot replaced Allan MacDonald as Celtic chief executive in 2001 and, during the last year, has become a gradually more controversial figure.

Along with Rangers chairman John McClelland, he vetoed plans by the Scottish Premier League to create its own pay-per-view television channel.

Together, Glasgow's Old Firm were courting a move to English football, either the Premiership or, at the very least, the Nationwide League.

That led to a bitter row with the other 10 clubs that form months threatened to split the SPL apart.

Ill-feeling continues with other clubs who viewed McLeod as the least willing to compromise on the way to an agreement.

This month, he appealed against a vote taken by a majority of the club chairmen to play the final Old Firm match of the season on 27 April.

McLeod claimed that Celtic fans would view the choice - three days after the Uefa Cup semi-final second leg - as biased against Celtic as it would place their side at a competitive disadvantage for a match that will go some way to deciding the league title.

He also inferred that it could lead to an increase in crowd violence as a result.

But, although he refused to apologise for remarks viewed in themselves as inflammatory, he backed down six days later as the police had refused to waver from their view that 27 April was the best date in the interests of public safety.

Henrik Larsson scores against Boavista in the Uefa Cup semi-final
Celtic have won two titles and have reached the Uefa Cup semis

Celtic insist that his departure is the result of discussions spanning some weeks, but it is perhaps typical of his tenure that the announcement should come only days before two of the most vital games in the club's history.

Fans chief Peter Rafferty, critical of such timing, said that supporters will have mixed views over the news, but football analyst John Moore believes that the man who tops Leeds' chief executive shortlist has done well financially for Celtic.

The Glasgow club have lost 14m in the last two seasons, yet Moore concludes: "Celtic have raised 25m on the stock exchange at a time when I don't think many clubs could raise that kind of money.

"McLeod is probably just want Leeds United need. He has been conservative with Celtic's finances at a time when the glory of the last couple of years could have led to much spending, while Leeds have been wild with their spending."

Celtic's announcement also came on the day that Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry told his club's website that he had again spoken to the Scottish champions last week and told them that opposition from smaller Premiership clubs ensured that their ambitions to move to English football would remain a pipedream.

It appears likely that Celtic's chief executive will realise his far sooner.

Football analyst John Moore
"He is probably what Leeds United need"


Celtic chief McLeod resigns
22 Apr 03  |  Celtic
Crunch time for Celtic
20 Apr 03  |  Celtic
No Celtic apology
17 Apr 03  |  Scottish Premier

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