CELTIC’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has revealed some of the details of his relationship with Fergus McCann, marking the 20th anniversary of the Canadian’s takeover at Celtic Park.
Speaking with the Celtic View, Desmond talked frankly about McCann’s takeover and the battle to bring the club back from the brink of ruin and how the Scot-Canadian’s vision helped shape Celtic as it is today.
Desmond, known as “The Kaiser” for his distinctive moustache, became involved in the club during McCann’s reign, later becoming a majority shareholder and a major figure in Celtic’s resurgence.
The Irishman revealed that he and McCann first had discussions regarding the takeover in 1994, saying: “I’d been introduced to the opportunity of investing in Celtic by a friend of mine called Brian Phelan and he then connected me with Fergus McCann.
“I looked over the plans that he had and he told me they were looking for £4million but I felt they would need to raise £8million. So I said I would invest £4million and underwrite another £4million, so that was really my first financial encounter with Celtic.”
McCann took over the club in 1994, acquiring a 51% controlling stake after the club was brought to the brink of bankruptcy. He later floated the club on the London stock market, acted as guarantor for the club’s debt and began an extensive redevelopment of Celtic’s stadium in the city’s east end.
The Scot-Canadian’s tenure in charge lasted only 5 years, a deadline he himself set, in which the club was returned to a far more stable and prosperous position both on and off the park.
Describing the personal motivations behind getting involved in the club, Desmond said it was all down to saving the club.
Desmond said: “It was saving Celtic - Fergus was saving Celtic. I wasn’t really aware of all the intricacies going on between the various families and factions but Fergus went in there, I would say as a neutral, coldly and hard, and wanted to do the best for Celtic and its fans.
“I saw that and I believed in that and it was easy for me then to look at it on that basis and to support him.”
Desmond also commented on the fans, saying that he was quick to emphasise the importance they have to the club, saying: “The football club is about the fans. It’s a merger between all the players, the coaches, the executives and the fans and we’re all unified in our love of Celtic. So I think a football club without fans is not a football club.”