Glasgow & West Scotland

EC looking into Celtic land deals

The European Commission is looking into claims that Celtic Football Club broke EU rules in land deals involving Glasgow City Council.

Officials in Brussels said they had asked for detailed information after receiving a number of complaints.

In a statement, the council confirmed one of the complaints focussed on land deals around Celtic Park in the east end of the city.

The Commission said it had not yet opened a formal investigation.

The information is being analysed, it said, so no conclusions can be drawn.

Last year, the council agreed to sell land valued at more than £750,000 to Celtic.

A statement released by Celtic said the club "operates to the highest standards and with the utmost integrity".

It added: "At a time when the club is committed to investing in and improving areas around Celtic Park, not only for Celtic supporters but for the benefit of the local community, it is sad that these baseless accusations have been raised with the European Commission.

"Any suggestion that Celtic has been the beneficiary of state aid is preposterous - as ludicrous as any suggestion that we have benefited from soft loans from our bankers. The historic transactions referred to were negotiated with the council on commercial terms at market rates.

"The club will assist the Commission fully with the process and will not be deterred from our work to improve our local area."

A spokesman for the city council said: "A complaint was made to the European Commission on historic land deals around Celtic Park.

"The Commission is legally obliged to investigate all such allegations, and the council was happy to provide information on these transactions."

Health board

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which sold part of its Lennox Castle site at Lennoxtown to Celtic for a training ground, said it has had no requests for information about any land deal it has been involved in.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: "We are aware of these allegations and we are working with the relevant parties to help the Commission to investigate this case consistent with our role to ensure public funds in Scotland are used in compliance with EU state aid regulations.

"The transaction between the health board and Celtic is not being investigated by the European Commission but we are also aware of it and are discussing it with the relevant parties."

The European Commission is also looking at whether claims of deals between the Spanish government and some of the country's football clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, constitute "state aid".

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