In 1994, when the Bank of Scotland told Celtic they would not pay wages the next day as the club was overdrawn, the old board had finally run out of road. That evening, chairman, Kevin Kelly, informed John Keane of the situation. Keane asked his manager at Bank of Ireland to deposit £1m in Celtic’s account at Bank of Scotland as soon as the branch opened the next morning.
Keane had been one of those working to open Celtic up and break the stranglehold of the three families who had largely controlled the club for decades. He became a director when the old board was replaced and retired from that position today.
That £1m payment was made without control or agreements, there was no guarantee it would save the club or that the old regime would actually move on. Keane later said, “Administration was unthinkable. It would have been a slur upon the name of the Club.”
Had the wages not been paid, Celtic would have entered administration, and this would not have been like the Craig Whyte-appointed Rangers administration. High earners would have been released, anything sellable would have been sold. Celtic would have been left with the lowest cost squad able to fulfil fixtures.
The most striking aspect about John Keane is his contentment for others to take the limelight. He tells no one what he did. It has never been about him, always Celtic.
Not all Celtic heroes wear hoops.