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Probe into Celtic’s £8m training ground

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A financial watchdog is investigating payments between a number of public bodies and Celtic Football Club.

Audit Scotland’s probe centres on the club’s north of Glasgow training HQ built in 2007.

They are examining a paper trail between the club, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and East Dunbartonshire Council over the state-of-the-art £8.5 million facility.

The council is said to have paid the football giants a significant sum over the last 18 months to allow members of the public limited access to the training ground. But the facility is only available for use on limited occasions.

Council officials have cited “commercial reasons” as their reason for refusing to disclose figures behind the service-level agreement.

Audit Scotland became involved after receiving a number of complaints about value-for-money public spending.

A spokesman for Audit Scotland said: “We have received several letters on this subject. As such, we have a team of local auditors who are making enquiries into this matter.”

Council officials say the public are allowed to use some of the pitches on Wednesday evenings and at some points during the summer.

The council inherited the deal from the Lennoxtown Initiative, a non-profit body set up by the council and the NHS to regenerate the area in 2002.

Thomas Glen, Director of Development and Regeneration at East Dunbartonshire Council, said, “East Dunbartonshire Council is a partner on the Lennoxtown Initiative which had a service-level agreement with Celtic Football Club to allow for community access to the Lennoxtown facility.

“The Council provided £68,377.20 in September, 2013, to support the delivery of this agreement. We fully support Audit Scotland in any responsible monitoring of the public pound.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed it is co-operating with auditors.

Their spokesman said: “We are aware that Audit Scotland are looking into this matter and have supplied them with all the relevant information that they have asked for.”

Celtic Football club refused to comment.

The training complex was built on the site of the former Lennox Castle Hospital to replace the club’s dilapidated Barrowfield training ground near Celtic Park in the east end of the city.

The club paid NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde nearly £493,000 for the land in June 2006 some £13,000 more than it was valued at.

However, at one stage there had been hopes the land could sell for £3.5 million.

The club has previously been embroiled with people living near the training ground over access.