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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Celtic launch a 15m share issue
Celtic major shareholder Dermot Desmond
Dermot Desmond will underwrite the offer
Celtic have announced a share offer designed to raise 15m to fund their new football academy and reduce the football club's debts.

Major shareholder Dermot Desmond will underwrite the issue to 10m but insists he does not wish to take outright control of the Glasgow club.

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said it was needed to stay competitive in Europe.

"It must give a high priority to finding, developing and training high-quality players," he said.

Subject to shareholder approval, 50 million new ordinary shares would be available to existing shareholders and new investors, priced at 30p per share.

Celtic have long wished to improve their youth facilities and match that enjoyed in recent years by Rangers at Murray Park and Hearts at Heriot-Watt.
The first team is already seeing the enormous benefit of the country's most successful youth development programme
Celtic chairman Brian Quinn

Quinn's club have earmarked the Lennox Castle Hospital site to the north of Glasgow for their new academy.

"The board believes that, as well as continuing to retain and attract experienced players, we must build upon the already excellent results of the club's youth development programme," he said.

"The first team is already seeing the enormous benefit of the country's most successful youth development programme, with players such as Wallace, Beattie, Maloney, Marshall, Lawson, McManus, McGeady and Kennedy already coming through - and there are many more in the pipeline."

"A key objective of this fundraising activity is the establishment of a purpose-built training facility incorporating a state-of-the-art youth academy.

"This, together with planned major investment in coaching, scouting and player development programmes would account for 10m of the potential 15m sought."

As part of the Stock Exchange announcement, the board also announced its intention to de-list from the London Stock Exchange and transfer its listings to AIM to take advantage of the greater flexibility of its rules.

The underwriting could give Desmond more than the 30% shareholding that would force him to make an offer for the rest of the company's shares.

But the board is seeking approval from independent shareholders to waiver that requirement.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added: "During the summer, we spent more money on new signings and extending contracts for senior players than any other club in the country.

"The funds raised will enable us to implement our long-term strategic objectives by improving the club's infrastructure, with a development at Lennoxtown being our preferred option.

"In addition, we intend that the radical expansion of our global scouting operation under Ray Clarke will be funded via this exercise."



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