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Celtic bid may force replay for school

Celtic Football Club is considering locating the country's first academy of sporting excellence in a Glasgow secondary. The club is said to be prepared to invest up to Pounds 3 million at the 300-pupil John Bosco Secondary on the south side of Glasgow, which faces merger with a larger school. Other sites are being investigated, but the John Bosco option is a front runner.

The outline deal, still in its infancy, is in tune with the Government's private finance initiative. Celtic would upgrade the facilities and retain exclusive use out of school hours. A coaching system would be similar to that developed in Holland by Ajax. Tommy Burns, Celtic's manager, has already travelled to Amsterdam to discuss a structure for youth coaching.

Plans include a hostel and community use of facilities. Celtic would cover two of the school yards and astroturf the blaize pitch. Floodlights would ensure all-year use. Pupils would have access to the facilities during school hours.

Glasgow City Council plans to merge John Bosco with Holyrood Secondary, Scotland's largest with 2,018 pupils, and Celtic awaits the outcome. Irene Graham, Labour councillor for the Oatlands area, admitted to informal talks with Celtic over the scheme. "It is a brilliant idea and an excellent thing to do and I will be supporting it all the way," Mrs Graham said.

It is hoped to establish a centre of excellence similar to the national dance school at Knightswood Secondary. While it would focus on football, other sports would be included.

"It could be linchpin of education and other facilities," Mrs Graham said. "I am anxious to retain an education presence in this part of the constituency. In three years, we could have no education facilities here."

Glasgow proposes to close the local primary as well as John Bosco. Now Mrs Graham is set to counter the city council's plans by backing the deal with Celtic.

A spokesman for the club could not comment on the John Bosco initiative but confirmed that a number of sites were under consideration.

If the Bosco plan proceeds, the 300-pupil secondary could become a magnet school, a cherished hope of its supporters. The Secretary of State previously refused an application for self-governing status from the school board.

Under the education department's plans, Holyrood would gradually absorb John Bosco pupils but retain the two sites. Councillors will begin assessing the revised options next week.

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