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Saturday 16 December 2017

Lawwell: Celts could survive Rangers demise

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell believes fans would continue backing the club in big numbers in the absence of Old Firm rivals Rangers.

The future of the Ibrox club is in doubt after legal papers were filed with the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday signalling Rangers' intention to enter administration, as they await the verdict of a tax tribunal.

The case centres around the use of employee benefits trusts (EBTs) which were in place before Craig Whyte took over as chairman from David Murray last May, with Rangers looking at possible "liabilities and penalties substantially more than the £50million reported".

The possible demise of the club altogether has also been raised in the media, leading to questions over Rangers' historical relationship with Celtic and the very future of the game in Scotland.

Asked if Celtic fans would continue to support the club in the same numbers in the absence of the Old Firm rivalry, Lawwell said: "Absolutely. It is a changing world. Nothing stays the same and our job is to make sure we are still seen as a big club in Europe and if there is any change we are part of that."

Extension

As for the potential for a European League, Lawwell said: "Who could say? Possibly, or a extension to the Champions League or an extension to the Europa League.

"We know what we have to do, we have to deliver and then hopefully this long-term strategy keeps the fans coming, keeps them interested and connected with Celtic. And I think they have, Neil (Lennon) has done that and season books are up this year."

Lawwell was speaking yesterday following the release of Celtic's interim financial results which he described as "very satisfactory".

Celtic reduced their bank debt by £2m during the second half of last year, with turnover increased by 3.1pc to £29.3m. The club made a pre-tax profit of about £180,000 while cutting the debt to just over £7m, a figure chairman Ian Bankier described as "very manageable number" among a "robust" set of figures.

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