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Old 19th April 2005, 09:43   #1
TanyaT
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Default Phone call has Celtic in a flap

Phone call has Celtic in a flap
By Roddy Forsyth Telegraph 19/04/2005

It is a long way from the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street to the fishwives of Kerrydale Street - postal address of Celtic FC - but the gulf was bridged yesterday with the unlikely help of Walsall teenager, Kayley Elkington, as a bizarre spat erupted between the club's chairman, Brian Quinn, and his manager, Martin O'Neill.
Quinn, a former governor of the Bank of England, had given an interview to BBC Radio Scotland in which he said that Celtic's wage bill was greater than that of Rangers and that the Parkhead club's spending was exceeded by only five Premiership clubs.
The interview was recorded on Thursday for broadcast on Sunday morning and BBC Scotland tipped off the Sunday newspapers before O'Neill's customary Friday media briefing.
O'Neill queried whether Quinn had referred to the club's overall wage bill or the salaries of players and replied: "I'm not going to get involved in an argument but there is not a prayer of the players' wages here being remotely near the figure quoted."
With the caveats played down, however, O'Neill's quotes made headlines in the Scottish Sunday papers. Quinn, normally a cautious man, called the club's PR man and left the following message: "It's Brian here. I'm trying to head off yet another storm created by our esteemed manager who has now, I believe, contradicted the numbers I used in the radio interview given this morning. The 40 million is total wages and salaries.
"Second, the statement that only five clubs in the Premiership have a higher wage bill was made after checking with the Celtic finance department who got this stuff from benchmark data.
"I'm not going to be made a liar by Martin O'Neill, so you're going to have to use your skills to defuse this thing. Bye."
Unfortunately for a man who places high value on the accuracy of numbers, Quinn had dialled the mobile phone answering service of an 18-year-old girl in Walsall. Kayley was duly bewildered when she listened to this diatribe.
However, someone else in the household - understood to be her father - grasped its meaning and immediately dialled (correctly) The Sun.
A chastened Quinn told The Daily Telegraph last night: "When you reach my age it's perhaps advisable to steer clear of new fangled devices like mobile phones. I've had a chat with Martin and I will take him through the salary bill with the aid of a bottle of wine and my abacus."
As for O'Neill, he added: "There is absolutely no friction between myself, the chairman and the board. Actually, I find the whole episode rather amusing."
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