Alex Salmond’s bid to get Celtic stars to back Yes

Scotland captain Scott Brown backed a Yes vote but was under pressure 'not to make a political statement'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Scotland captain Scott Brown backed a Yes vote but was under pressure 'not to make a political statement'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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ALEX Salmond was hopeful of securing backing for Scottish independence from former Celtic manager Neil Lennon and current captain Scott Brown during the referendum campaign, it has been revealed.

In his recently released autobiography, The Dream Shall Never Die - a diary kept by the former SNP leader of the last 100 days of the campaign - Mr Salmond reveals that he attempted to get both Lennon and Brown to back a Yes vote in last September’s referendum.

Neil Lennon declined to declare for Yes due to his hopes of securing a media contract. Picture: Jane Barlow

Neil Lennon declined to declare for Yes due to his hopes of securing a media contract. Picture: Jane Barlow

Lennon - who quit as Celtic manager in May 2014 - and the former First Minister were attending an event launching a new exhibition by artist Gerard Burns, in the Clydesdale Bank HQ in Glasgow city centre.

Describing the former Northern Ireland international as a ‘highly intelligent, complex and thoroughly likeable character’, Salmond reveals his bid to attract more high-profile figures to the pro-independence campaign.

On Friday July 25, he writes: “Neil [Lennon] tells me he’s a YES supporter, but my immediate attempt to get him to help publicly meets with a cautious reaction.

“He has hopes of a media contract, he explains.”

“Phone Scotland and Celtic captain Scott Brown, who has developed into a very considerable footballer. Scott normally wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the pitch and is a YES supporter”

Alex Salmond

And Mr Salmond - who did secure support for a Yes vote from the likes of former players Michael Stewart and Gavin Rae - tried to get Celtic skipper Scott Brown to publicly declare for Yes.

With under a month left until the historic vote, Mr Salmond reveals that he contacted Brown as well as Glasgow singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald.

In the entry for Thursday August 28, Mr Salmond writes: “Try to get celebrity endorsements from two key figures in the world of sport and music.

“Phone Scotland and Celtic captain Scott Brown, who has developed into a very considerable footballer. Scott normally wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the pitch and is a YES supporter.

“However, his contract negotiations with Celtic are at a delicate stage and he is under pressure not to make a political declaration.”

The Yes campaign benefited from a number of celebrity endorsements, including an eleventh-hour declaration from Andy Murray, as well as support from comedians Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges; fashion designer Vivienne Westwood; and authors Irvine Welsh and AL Kennedy.

But the No campaign also attracted support from sports personalities, including former Aberdeen manager Sir Alex Ferguson, golfer Colin Montgomerie, former rugby internationals Kenny Logan and Gavin Hastings and former footballers Denis Law, Jim Leighton, Ally McCoist and Alex McLeish.

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