Neil Lennon praises Fergus McCann's legacy
Published 01/03/2014 | 01:30
Neil Lennon hailed Fergus McCann as one of the great figures in Celtic's history as the Parkhead club prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the Canada-based businessman's takeover of the Glasgow giants during today's home match against Inverness.
McCann rescued Celtic from the brink of bankruptcy in March 1994, before restructuring the club financially and rebuilding the stadium.
His prudence in the transfer market and with wages, however, found little favour among a section of the Celtic support as rivals Rangers dominated the decade.
And even though he was in charge when the Hoops prevented the Ibrox club setting a new Scottish record of 10 consecutive title wins, he was booed by Celtic fans when unfurling the championship flag on the opening day of the 1998/99 season before a game against Dunfermline at Parkhead.
McCann sold his shares at the end of his five-year plan but his legacy has only recently been properly appreciated and indeed brought into sharper focus with Rangers' recent descent into administration and liquidation, and the Govan club's continuing battle to find some sort of stability.
Ahead of the Scottish Premiership clash with Inverness, Hoops boss Lennon said: "It may put more emphasis now on what he did back then but to maybe use it as a comparison, I don't know.
"All I will say is that it was a very critical time the club. You just wonder what state the club would be in. He stabilised the club, took it forward and built a magnificent stadium.
"Obviously I wasn't around at the club in those days but the fruits of his labour are there to be admired and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Fergus. He had to make tough decisions but when you look back at it, those tough decisions were the right ones.
"He delivered what he said. There was a little bit of pain along the way but he stayed strong.
"We are all very appreciative and thankful and he has left a fantastic legacy behind him."