Crumbling dream of a Cambuslang Paradise
Former Celtic director Michael Kelly insists the club’s proposed move to Cambuslang was the correct one and would have greatly benefitted the town.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the then Celtic board unveiling plans to move across the River Clyde.
On April 15, 1992, the club’s official magazine, the Celtic View, ran a front page declaring “Paradise found”.
The club proposed to move to an area of vacant land beside the Cambuslang Investment Park which was set to house a new 52,000-seater stadium.
With the Taylor Report about to come into force, the Parkhead board had decided that the redevelopment of Celtic Park was not an option and turned their sights to Cambuslang.
As well as the stadium, the £ 100 million blueprint included plans for two railway stations, retail space, a Celtic museum, a hotel and even a cinema and bowling alley.
Mr Kelly, an ex-provost of Glasgow and cousin of former club chairman Kevin Kelly, said: “At the time it was definitely the best option to move to a new site to make room for all the facilities around the stadium.
“If you look at clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City they have moved away from 19th century grounds situated amongst housing infrastructure to much greater sites to accommodate everything that comes with new stadiums like hotels and shops, etc.
“You can see, with towns and cities with big football clubs, they boast a tremendous amount of jobs.
“And if you look at what Celtic are doing just now, they are training a lot of young people in a variety of jobs to gain skills which can be transferred so that is one of the big benefits it would have brought.
“You would also have had the flow of 50,000 people coming in, which would have been good for the pubs and fast food restaurants.”
At the time Celtic said the move could create around 2000 jobs in Cambuslang and would bring major economic benefits to the town.
But the reality was somewhat different, with the proposed move becoming a symbol of a failing board.
Concerns were also raised by locals who were questioning the possibility of disorder and traffic problems, while some criticised the lack of detail in the plans.
The proposal was also widely unpopular within the Celtic support, who did not want to leave their spiritual home.
For two years the project limped along until the arrival of Canadianbased tycoon Fergus McCann, who wanted to take over the club.
With Celtic just a few minutes from bankruptcy in March 1994, McCann swept into power and out went the previous regime – as well as the Cambuslang proposal.
Unrepentant Michael Kelly
Plans The then Celtic chairman Kevin Kelly, right, and Gwynn Kennedy, chairman of Superstadia group, at the Cambuslang site