Paddy Power apologise for Billy McNeil tweet

Former Celtic manager  Billy McNeill during yesterday's draw. Picture: AP
Former Celtic manager Billy McNeill during yesterday's draw. Picture: AP
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BOOKMAKER Paddy Power has apologised for making a joke on Twitter about Celtic legend Billy McNeil during yesterday’s Champions League group stage draw.

The former Parkhead manager was mocked by the betting firm on the social media site after he struggled to open a ball containing team names.

The small containers also troubled Johann Cruyff, 66, and Luis Figo,40, during the draw in Montreal.

However it was 73-year-old McNeil that was the target of Paddy Power’s tweet.

The @paddypower account tweeted: “If you want to ever frustrate Billy McNeil, buy him a Kinder Egg.”

The tweet attracted a storm of protest from Celtic fans who threatened to boycott the Ireland-based bookmaker.

@mconway1888 tweeted: “That will be the last time I bet with @paddypower after the Billy McNeil tweet.”

@luckyjim1968 said: “Paddy Power made a comment about Billy McNeil not being able to open the balls for the draw. Unknown to them he has arthritis.”

While ‏@Donnster added: “Think the apology from @paddypower was pathetic! Present a sizeable donation to Billy McNeil for the Celtic charity fund!!!”

Paddy Power removed the tweet and apologised to offended fans by tweeting “I just want to apologise for any offence by our tweet about Billy McNeil”.

Celtic were drawn Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax in yesterday’s showcase which was watched by millions around the world.

The former Celtic captain, who lifted the European Cup in 1967, was assisted by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantimo during the draw.

He told The Sun: “We’d rehearsed things in the morning and I was uncomfortable trying to carry it out.

“For whatever reason I found the balls extremely tight to twist. I was also a bit nervous. As soon as the draw started by worst fears were realised. Thankfully Gianni was there to help me and we had to laugh about it.

“The alternative was me there all night trying to open the balls and Europe waiting for the draw!”

A spokesman for Paddy Power said that the tweet was part of “our light-hearted commentary” and pointed out that the tweet had been deleted and an apology made.