Is McCann Really The Man?

_953651_fergusmccann300Everyone and their granny has spent the last week lavishing praise on, generally fawning over, and paying tribute to good ol’ Fergus McCann for not only rescuing Celtic from near death but instilling financial prudence into Celtic’s work ethic off the field.

Even Dermot Desmond. Yes, the man of few words has also said his piece this week. You could probably count on one hand the number of public statements Desmond has made in the last 20 years.

Despite shying from publicity and more often than not taking a vow of slience, the Irishman has received far less praise for putting far more money into Celtic than McCann. When will we be marking his 20th Anniversary?

I don’s subscribe to the hero-worshipping of McCann (despite sharing a surname).

Am I grateful that he spearheaded the team that saved Celtic? Of course. Only an idiot would think otherwise.

But McCann also walked away with something estimated to be in the region of £40m. For five years work. 15 years ago. Imagine what value that would be now? Did he deserve the pay-out? Maybe, but let’s not be kidded here – he was a shrewd businessman who saw an opportunity. I find it preposterous than an already wealthy man took that amount of money with him. Worst still, he’s a Celtic fan like you and I.

Figures banded about at the time said he’d invested £9m of his own cash and got five times the return.

Some say, it was £1m of his own dough, with £8m borrowed. A high risk strategy or a cunning plan by a clever, feisty businessman?

When I learned, at the time, of the sum he set off into the sun with I can’t say I was too pleased. I’m still not. If he had doubled or trebled it, fair play. But he pocketed five times this. There was no parting financial gift. If it were me, I would have donated money back to help with the team – the core of the club.

How often have you dreamed of winning the Lotto? How big was the win? When Colin and Christine Weir of Largs won £161m my first thought was – “I’d give Celtic £50m for the transfer market”. Of course, that’s after I’d sorted my family out and bought an Island.

That sum is off the scale in terms of what we, as ordinary people, could fully understand.

£45m fifteen years ago is unimaginable wealth to the ordinary guy in the street. Even nowadays it’s a ridiculous amount of money. And let’s not forget – McCann had made his fortunes elsewhere. Why, as a Celtic fan, would you not give a good wedge to the club you love? I’d happily donate £15m to help the cause, unless you think £30m wouldn’t see you through to the next pay day?

I am by no means ungrateful for what McCann did but the lavishing of praise doesn’t impress me. I totally get how near Celtic was to going out of business. I can remember the caring attitude towards me by Rangers fans at the time. There was a lot of hugging and counselling from them – it was almost becoming an obsession. (I’ll now take my embedded tongue out of my cheek).

He also introduced “Bhoys Against Bigotry” which to me was the prelude to The Offensive Behaviour Act. He set out to sanitise Celtic Park and that’s one thing I believe he succeeded at. Every one of the 53,000 sat in fear of being banned from Paradise for having a sly fag, smelling of drink and of course, using any form of sectarian words. The police then were heavy-handed and some of the Celtic support, most of whom were plucked from the middle-classes, turned into snitches. The cultured has changed. It’s gone.

McCann sought to turn Celtic Park into your typical American baseball arena. He wanted it filled with families chewing gum, sipping Coke and munching hot dogs. The working class man was confined to the skelf-ridden bleachers.

What I found ironic at the time was that Celtic had launched an anti-sectarian initiative when most of it’s fans come from Irish Catholic backgrounds and had been subject to the very thing they were to campaign against.

To be fair Celtic has done extremely well and will continue to do well because of financial prudence. Sometimes, I just wish they would loosen the purse strings. Give us a marquee signing; speculate to accumulate. Take a risk for God’s sake. But they won’t. McCann’s aim was to ingrain this in Celtic from the day the he took over to the day he left, and his legacy continues.

I applaud Fergus for what he did at the time and that’s not lost on me but spare me the the razzamatazz and the cheerleading.

There are others more deserving of it. Like the fans who really did save Celtic, and build the stadium.

Our monument is what we leave to our children and their children. It’s all we ever cared about.

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Gavin McCann

A dipsomaniac funambulist steadying himself on life's tightrope through the medium of writing. I "suffer" from diphallic terata with mild polyorchidity. Like a dug wi' two dicks.

78 thoughts on “Is McCann Really The Man?

  • 12 March, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Probably the poorest article I have ever read. Do yourself a favour mate and take it down, apologise to yourself and start again.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Can’t get over how bad this is. Jesus. Poor.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Considering the institionalise bigotry heaped upon Celtic fans for many years, should there not have been an initiative at that stage from the Scottish Government?

    McCann set out to de-sanitise Celtic Park and did so by introducing BAB.

    The legacy of which is proof positive at Celtic Parl today. The atmosphere isn’t great and since the GB went it’s worse.

    If anyone can suggest how we can re-capture this, feel free to share your ideas.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Careful Gavin some of our bhoys dont like Fergus being criticised. Even though Fergus told Wim Jansen not to make any subs at the end of games because he had to pay an apperance bonus. Celtic fans saved Celtic not McCann. Sure name a stand after him and while your at it name a stand after mojo as well!

  • 12 March, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Ask any hun you know, who they would rather have,someone like McCann who is a shrewd and successful businessman, or shysters like Murray, Green or Whyte, none of whom put any of their own wealth on the line?
    There wasn’t anyone with the guts to put their dough in except the bunnet, apparently the money he put in was his tank so he stood to lose everything, so why shouldn’t he profit?
    He didn’t leave Ce;tic with millions in the bank? So what, he left us on a financial sound footing, an ultra modern stadium and hope for the future. You obviously weren’t around when the Whites and Kellys were talking bollox and running our club into oblivion.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    a confused piece I think,poorly put together,the scatter slur approach and unlike the usual high calibre of article read on here.a few points.
    1.Dermot Desmond initially invested after seeing the original plans by Fergus,No fergus no Desmond.
    2.Fergus sold his shareholding in a free market,money was not taken out of the compare the Fergus ‘ronseal’ approach(doing what he said for the Tim) with anything coming out of new-identity park is simply wrong.To compare anything Fergus done for Celtic,in any way shape or form,with any Spiv/hedgefund policy coming out of Govan denotes error.for one there is integrity,two,he was a fan.I wonder how Laxeys et al will be looked on in 20 years time?Rant over.
    Fergus as a Celtic Fan I thank you.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Even though the guest poster had twenty years to work on it, it’s still an extraordinary achievement to have produced the worst article in the history of the internet.

    Great business plan though – win the lottery and give £30 million to the club.
    I think we can work out why the McCann who is a successful businessman is called Fergus and not Gavin.

    Who’s next, James? John Barnes telling us how Jock Stein got it all wrong in 1967 and, to make matters even worse, made a profit out of his time at Celtic Park?

  • 12 March, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Lol maybe you should write something for us Henry my man.

    Wait until later in the week … if you thought this was a controversial piece …

    How come I never got all this last week? Surely there must be some element of our support who agrees with Gav and disagrees with me?

    Want to know why they didn’t come forward and say so? Take a look at these responses. We really have become quite intolerent of opinions we don’t like.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I actualy found this article offensive, This is similar to the sort of drivel that Hugh Keevins was writing at the time McCann left.
    First of all, I am glad your grateful to McCann for saving Celtic Football Club, what team would you be supporting now if it weren’t for Fergus McCann? Without him we would have been consigned to the history books along with Airdrieonians, Gretna, Meadowbank and Third Lanark. “We could have went down the ‘newco’ route” some will say but please don’t pretend this Rangers abomination is normal practice. The only thing normal about the newco route is that those running our game have changed and bent the rules to suit one club just as they have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. That one club is not Celtic.
    The bank gave Fergus McCann 24 hours to get £1000000 and stop Celtic being wound up, while that may not be as exciting as 24 hours in the life of Jack Bauer, in those days, it was every bit as difficult. Before the instant money transfers we have now, getting money from one account to another, without using cash, was not a quick process. BACS took 2-3 days and cheques, how we were paid back then, took even longer. The bank, led by Gavin Masterton, were happy enough to give David Murray and Rangers an almost neverending line of credit but gave Celtic 24 hours simply because it was a deadline they thought could not be met for that large a sum. Never has someone in a bank been so unhappy about receiving £1 million and these actions led to the end of their working relationship with Celtic, which had lasted over a century.
    You go on about giving Celtic money if you win the lottery but why wait till then? You are free to gift your money to Celtic right now, it would a difference from Celtic having to give you a seat in the stadium, a replica top, a DVD, etc in return for your cash and I’m sure Celtic would appreciate such a noble act.
    To say Fergus McCann is an architect of the Offensive Behaviour Act is almost libellous. Bhoys Against Bigotry was and is an excellant initiative, it has been commended by charities like Nil By Mouth, recommended to other clubs by UEFA and it has saved us from much harsher punishments from the authorities. It had to be brought in to show that we are doing something to combat illegality, while other clubs turned a blind eye or encouraged worse. Celtic had to polish our image, show the world how great the fans are and fight the ‘both sides are as bad as each other’ ethos which still permeates mainstream society. The Offensive Behaviour Bill, like the smoking ban you alude to, were brought in around a decade after Fergus McCan left, I am truely in amazement that you somehow see Government decisions taken years later as being the responsibility of Fergus McCann, next you’ll be saying the Iraq war was down to him.
    You say the lack of big spending now is down to Fergus McCann not spending big then, we signed players like Larsson and Moravcik but maybe you would have preferred we spent big on John Spencer. The notion that guys like Lennon and Sutton were bargain basement signings is laughable.
    Under Fergus McCann we built the best stadium in the country, won trophies for the first time in years, watched some truely great players, stopped them winning ten in a row, broke David Murrays bank-backed dominence, planned for a modern training complex, exposed bias at the SFA, investigated referees to combat predilection and showed that Celtic would not be pushed around, yet you still wanted more from him. All he wanted you to do was support the team. Who else has made such achievements in such a short time frame. You may may have preferred it with Michael Kelly in charge but, thank God, I don’t know one Celtic fan who would agree with that.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Yer an absolute walloper.

    Up The Ra x

  • 12 March, 2014 at 6:34 pm


    Okay … I’m actually a Fergus supporter, and wrote a very different article to this last week, but I can’t let you off the hook on the notion that without Fergus we would have been a Gretna or an Airdrie.

    Fergus was, by no means, the only person waiting in the wings. See, this is the difference between our situation and the one over at Sevconia. We would have been saved, without the wee man. Would we have been in the position we are now? Who knows. But Celtic would have survived. There is no doubt about it at all.

    As to Bhoys Against Bigotry, I feel I’ve got to step into this one as well. I am personally offended by the notion that Celtic Park was a haven for bigots and that it was Fergus McCann who showed them the door. It’s a nonsense to suggest it. Celtic Park was not, and never has been, a public forum for the kind of sectarianism you see elsewhere. Bhoys Against Bigotry was, to me, a PR exercise in branding Celtic Park “family friendly”, and an important component of Fergus’ marketing strategy. I have no issue with that, but a lot of our supporters do see it as the forerunner of other campaigns to reduce the “Irish influence” at our club … Gavin is not alone in holding that view.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    He left us in a far better position than when he took over, whether he pocketed a fiver or £40m, good on him. See when he had to deposit £1m by midnight, did the idiot that wrote this drivel want to bicker over the amount he might earn (or lose), and possibly miss the boat, I doubt it. Its great how self righteous people can be after the event. As for the comment that we all sat in Celtic in fear is complete and utter garbage. The comment about the lottery and giving money to this and that, is pathetic and childish, grow up.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Sorry James,

    I can’t agree.

    I am not a rich man by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I ever likely to be, but an attack like yours on McCann smacks of jealousy.

    You rightly say everyone dreams of winning the lottery.

    The European lottery regularly rolls over to £160,000,000 and each ticket costs £2.

    Why is it O.K. to win the staggering sum of £160,000,000 just for buying a £2 ticket, but wrong for a man to make £40mill by taking the enormous risk of putting millions into a sagging (at the time) football club, build that club a brand new stadium, and spend five years of his life working to achieve his dream, and achieving that dream?

    Telling us what you would do with the money if you won the lottery is not impressive, and I would suggest that you wouldn’t really be sure what you would do until you had the cash in your bank account.

    It’s easy to tell other people what to do with their money or time, but if someone came along and robustly tried to insist what you should spend your lottery win on, you would give them short shrift.

    I’ll give you an example of this.

    A few years back a member of my family was going on at length about homeless people and how the government should do something about the problem.

    I said to her that she seemed very emotional about the subject, and offered to give her advice.

    She agreed and I told her there was a way she could do something in a small way which would help.

    I pointed out to her that since her family had grown up and fled the nest and she had two spare bedrooms that she could let out to the homeless at a low rent.

    I’ll never forget the look on her face.

    She said…’Don’t be ridiculous’.

    You see, she thought it was O.K. for her to demand someone else should do something, just don’t expect her to.

    It’s just human nature.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 7:10 pm


    I can’t add much more to that except this …

    I didn’t write the article!


  • 12 March, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Your item on Fergus has allowed me the first opportunity that I have had, for some years, to be able to use both the words churlish and ungrateful in the one sentence. Or did you in fact manage to keep that tongue in your cheek throughout your whole article? Wake up to the facts of the real world and be grateful that the right man was there at the right time and that he was prepared to take the financial risks that were needed to keep a Celtic in our lives.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    McCann didn’t take any money out of celtic at all – he sold his shares to willing and eager buyers. Not a penny was denied celtic. He was worth 11 million and put 9 million in – he could easily have lost a huge amount of money.

    The man completely rebuilt the stadium team and club and giving the fans ownership to try and ensure that the Kelly’s whites and grants of the world never darken our doorstep again.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I laughed all the way through that, your not a man to take the easy and well trodden path and i applaud you for it. I was surprised to read that Mr Desmond had put up £4mil and under-written another £4mil, right at the start of the ‘Fergus Revolution’. Mr Dempsey also recently poured cold water on the 24hrs to save the club mantra. They where in fact given 6 weeks to come up with the cash and he couldn’t be more complimentry about the bank, alterior motive or not. The Fergus legacy will be the stadium, even if it was the fans that paid for it. The question has got to be asked, when will Mr Desmond get his day in the sun? HH

  • 12 March, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    McCann took big risks so was rewarded with a big payout. Nothing wrong with that. If it didn’t work out he would have lost most of his life savings so the guy had balls to take a chance. A donation to get a training complex up and running would have been a nice gesture from his profits but we prob wouldn’t have a team to support if it wasn’t for him. So respect where it’s due.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    He gave his last for Celtic’s cause and ploughed it into Celtic who were only an hour or so away from extinction. Yes he saved the Club and yes, he walked away with £35m but he gave everything he said he would. ALL 5 points. The fans couldn’t have given anything without him and he handed his cash over before the 12noon deadline and then DD put his money in. He deserves every single penny he took out becausse without him, there would be NO CELTIC. Fergus McCann – The Bunnet.

    He looked like something from the past,
    People mocked but he laughed last
    From Canada, back home he came
    To buy our club and keep the name
    The saint who wore the Bunnet, that’s McCann.

    He stepped in and saved our souls
    Told us of his plans and goals
    This modern day Messiah saved
    The club we love from football’s grave,
    The man who wore the cap, Fergus McCann.

    He read to them the riot act
    As the board and manager were sacked
    Then demolished our old Paradise
    As we watched on with tearful eyes
    But like The Lord, it rose back up again.

    Fergus was a home grown fan,
    Shrewd, astute, a business man
    All five promises were kept
    Yet some Celtic fans saw that inept
    But he’s the reason we still play today.

    Don’t underestimate his work
    This solo worker never shirked
    But was his just financial gain?
    You decide, you’ve got a brain!
    But what The Bunnet said, The Bunnet did!

    He gave sixty thousand fans their seats
    The humbled Huns could not compete
    Then he saved our club from bankruptcy
    And left us with his legacy,
    The Paradise that we enjoy today.

    He took The SFA to court
    And booted Farry out the door
    UEFA came next, he won that too
    The Huns thought this, some kind of coup
    But he done this for The Celtic that he loved.

    When he returns to Celtic Park
    We show respect to this class act
    With all things Celtic, was obsessed
    Condemning those who caused distress
    A man whose heart still beats in green and white.

    I think a statue should be raised
    To the man whom Celtic fans should praise
    Without him, no team running ‘round,
    We wouldn’t even have a ground,
    We send our deepest thanks, Fergus McCann.

    Paul Colvin.

  • 12 March, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I was just assembling a coach and horses to drive through this pious piece of nonsense, then I read the comments.

    You have all the right words. You have them in the wrong order though, as Eric With the specs once said!

    Entitled to your opinion though.

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