Swinney: Investors urgently needed to save shipbuilder

Ferguson Shipbuilders Administrators have made 70 staff redundant at Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow

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New investors may need to found within days if the financially-stricken Ferguson Shipbuilder in Port Glasgow is to be saved, MSPs have been told.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the yard would lose its "critical asset", its workforce, without progress.

About 70 staff were made redundant on Friday after the firm went bust due to a lack of orders and cash flow issues.

McGill's Buses owners, James and Sandy Easdale are in talks about a possible rescue package with the administrators.

Following the financial collapse of Ferguson Shipbuilders, the Scottish government and Inverclyde Council set up a joint task force to look at ways of saving the business.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Swinney said: "The taskforce has unanimously agreed that there will be concerted and coherent effort to do everything in our collective and combined powers to secure a new owner for the yard.

"We are determined to see shipbuilding continue on the lower Clyde."

Start Quote

This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is a vital business for our area”

End Quote Sandy Easdale

The finance secretary stressed that there was a need for a new owner to be found to take on the yard quickly.

Mr Swinney said: "We do believe the way forward is with new ownership and new investment, and it is the supremely urgent priority of the next few days to ensure that, because without securing that investment in the next few days there is the danger that the critical asset of Ferguson's, the workforce, will start to dissipate as individuals understandably try to secure alternative opportunities to support their families."

To that end, he stated: "The identification of new ownership is the absolute and immediate priority of the government."

The finance secretary also told MSPs that ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) would need to replace a dozen of its vessels in the next 10 years, adding this work could be worth as much as £250m.

Mr Swinney said half of these were a similar size to two "cutting-edge" hybrid ferries build at the Port Glasgow yard recently that are powered by both diesel and electricity.

Finance Secretary John Swinney updates Holyrood about Ferguson's shipyard.

"I firmly believe there is a viable future for shipbuilding on the lower Clyde," Mr Swinney said.

"Our aspiration for future ferry orders remains and I have allocated significant capital funds to Transport Scotland to deliver this.

"The Scottish Ferries plan sets out a series of vessel procurements over the next decade, 12 current CalMac vessels are to be replaced at an estimated cost of up to £250 million. Half of these are vessels of a size similar to the two hybrid ferries recently build by Fergusons.

"There will certainly be construction work for a new owner of Fergusons to compete for, as well as regular repair and maintenance work from Cal Mac.

"There is sufficient work to sustain Fergusons under a new owner with the vision and commitment to invest in the shipyard and its workforce."

Mr Swinney added: "We would work closely with any new owner to support them in building a sustainable business, recognising this can not happen overnight.

"Our goal continues to be to secure the vital future of Scotland's shipbuilding industry. The government will do all it can to work with others to secure the future of shipbuilding on the lower Clyde."

Greenock-based businessmen Sandy and James Easdale expressed an interest on Monday on possibly putting together a deal to save Ferguson Shipbuilders.

In a statement, Sandy Easdale said: "This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is a vital business for our area. With government assistance, both in Edinburgh and London, I am sure we can secure orders."

Both Easdale brothers arrived at the shipyard on Tuesday for a meeting with joint administrators from KPMG.

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  1.  
    20:55: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    EC: "Celtic should be at least 2 down by now. Would have been humiliated in Champions League! Need to keep possession better."

    I am Billy: "Think Celtic should be glad Astra have only brought 15 players with them. Craig Gordon earns them the win bonus AGAIN."

     
  2.  
    20:54: Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland at Celtic Park

    "Not to put too fine a point on it, that was dire from Celtic. I mentioned momentum earlier and there's been absolutely no sign of the firepower that brought them five goals at the weekend. Instead, the Romanians have looked the likelier to score and Celtic can be thankful they haven't done. Ronny Deila needs to earn his corn at the interval."

     
  3.  
    20:52: Join the debate on BBC Scotland Facebook

    Dylan James McKaig: "Astra won 2-1 to Lyon in the play-off round and won by away goals. I can see why from this performance."

    James McKay: "Sorry, I've just had to turn off the Radio Commentary on BBC Scotland of the Celtic EuCup game. I can't handle the 'Jekyll and Hyde' syndrome that Deila has brought to Celtic."

     
  4.  
    Celtic 0-0 Astra Giurgiu 20:51: HALF-TIME
  5.  
    20:48:

    A Scott Brown cross takes a deflection and eventually falls for Anthony Stokes, but the Celtic striker's shot is blocked in front of goal by Cristian Oros.

     
  6.  
    20:43:

    All of Celtic's threat is coming from right-back Mikael Lustig and another deep cross finds Stefan Scepovic unmarked only eight yards from goal, but the misfiring striker heads weakly over the crossbar. Celtic's best chance so far.

     
  7.  
    20:43: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    Ray Gaw: "Celtic lucky not to be behind, some great crosses from Lustig, crying out for someone to take a gamble & get there!"

     
  8.  
    20:41:

    John James Donnelly on Facebook: "Come on Celtic, let's have a good performance and get goals."

     
  9.  
    20:39: Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland at Celtic Park

    "All of a sudden Astra look pretty tidy and should probably be ahead. Three good chances (two smart Craig Gordon saves and a loose bit of finishing preventing the goals) and the home crowd aren't happy with the ease with which the Celtic defence is being carved open. Celtic have got to be better than this."

     
  10.  
    20:38: Former Celtic midfielder Murdo MacLeod on BBC Radio Scotland

    "We have been a bit disrespectful to Astra. We called them the whipping boys of the group, but just now they are playing the better football."

     
  11.  
    20:35:

    An awful ball across the face of his own penalty box by Celtic midfielder Charlie Mulgrew hands a good chance to Gabriel Enache, but the midfielder drives wide from 16 yards.

     
  12.  
    20:34: CLOSE!

    Astra's Vasileios Pliatsikas has to head away a dangerous Mikael Lustig cross to the back post and, although nothing comes of that, the Greek defender goes close to volleying into his own net after another ball looped in by the Swede.

     
  13.  
    20:30: Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland at Celtic Park

    "Not much so far to excite the home fans who braved the wind and rain. Celtic have had plenty of possession but are yet to test Silviu Lung in the FC Astra goal."

     
  14.  
    20:27: GREAT SAVE!

    Craig Gordon stretches out a big leg to deny a low drive from Astra's Constantin Budescu. The visitors are piling on the pressure.

     
  15.  
    20:26:

    A superb 22-yard half-volley from Ghanaian midfielder Seidu Yahaya almost takes Craig Gordon by surprise and the Celtic goalkeeper chests it away in unconventional style.

     
  16.  
    20:25:

    It's Astra's turn to exert a bit of pressure on the Celtic defence, but it remains goalless in Glasgow with neither side having seriously threatened.

     
  17.  
    Red Bull Salzburg 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Alan Carvalho) 20:23:

    News from Austria is that Salzburg have taken the lead in the other Group D game through Brazilian defender Alan Carvalho.

     
  18.  
    20:20: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    cade evans: "We should win tonight, but how inconstant we are under Delia, I wouldn't be surprised if we got less!" Assume you are a Celtic fan there!

     
  19.  
    20:19: Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on BBC Radio Scotland

    "It is a slow start by Celtic. They are not moving the ball with any urgency. They are maybe a bit worried about this team and are wanting to have a look at them."

     
  20.  
    20:16:

    Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk thumps a free-kick into the Astra defensive wall. Bit of a waste of a good opportunity there. Not exactly a Dutch master!

     
  21.  
    20:13: YELLOW CARD

    Astra midfielder Seydou Yahaya is the first into the referee's book for a lunging challenge as Celtic begin to exert some pressure.

     
  22.  
    20:09:

    Celtic win the first corner of the game and Charlie Mulgrew floats a header harmlessly over the crossbar after being found unmarked in acres of space 14 yards from goal by Anthony Stokes' cross to the far post.

     
  23.  
    20:09:

    Salzburg take on Dinamo Zagreb in the other Group D game in Austria and we'll keep you up to date with that too when we hear of anything.

     
  24.  
    20:07:

    Celtic concede an early free-kick as they whip the ball about the Glasgow pitch, but the Astra cross into the box is too close to home goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

     
  25.  
    20:05: Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland at Celtic Park

    "Pretty dreich weather-wise in Glasgow this evening, but the pitch should be nice and slick as a result of the drizzle swirling around the stadium. Celtic have found it difficult to get any momentum this season, but tonight offers an opportunity to build upon the weekend thrashing of Ross County. Their Romanian opponents have had an even more sticky start to the season and lie bottom of Group D. Win here tonight and Celtic are well on the way to the knock-out stage."

     
  26.  
    20:05: KICK-OFF

    Celtic kick off in their traditional green and white hoops, with Astra in all black.

     
  27.  
    20:04:

    Ciaran Fitzgerald: "(3.05 am kick off to follow from singapore) Better be good or ill go car-azy."

     
  28.  
    20:03:
    Celtic goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska is all smiles Celtic goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska appears to have put his troubles behind him as he warms up
     
  29.  
    20:01:

    Here come the teams on to Celtic Park and the Europa League theme belts out in what looks like a half full stadium.

     
  30.  
    19:59:

    Celtic Park is looking a bit sparse at the moment. Let's hope those seats start to fill so we can get the kind of bouncing European atmosphere for which the stadium is renowned.

     
  31.  
    19:56: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    Martin Law: "I think that Astra are going to park the bus tonight. No, wait..."

     
  32.  
    19:55:

    Astra make two changes from their 1-1 draw with Gaz Metan. Constantin Budescu and Takayuki Seto come into midfield, with striker Aurelian Chitu and midfielder George Florescu, both Romanian internationals, dropping out, which suggests the visitors will be a bit more defensive in Glasgow as they were in their domestic league.

     
  33.  
    19:51: Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland at Celtic Park

    "A big night this for Stefan Scepovic, who has yet to show what Ronny Deila and Celtic's scouts saw in him prior to his £2m summer move. Stefan Johansen seemed to relish his more advanced role against Ross County following the return of Charlie Mulgrew and the Celtic fans will be hoping for more of the same from him. And, with Mikael Lustig available again at right-back, Celtic look pretty strong."

     
  34.  
    19:44: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    jackos_da: "Think the wheels will fall off this Astra team tonight." Keep those car puns coming...

     
  35.  
    19:43:

    Celtic's line-up tonight shows only one change - on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti missing out again because he is not registered for the Europa League.

    His place is taken by Serbian forward Stefan Scepovic, whose Celtic career has yet to take off after his summer arrival.

    Goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska is on the bench despite picking up two black eyes after a well-publicised incident in the early hours of Monday morning.

     
  36.  
    19:40:

    Astra qualified for European football for the first time two seasons ago but missed out on the Europa League group stage after losing in the play-off stage.

     
  37.  
    19:38:

    Astra are struggling in their domestic league - as well as in Europe - but it has to be remembered that they defeated French cracks Lyon to qualify for the group stage. Not only that, but they beat another famous name - Steau Bucharest - to win their first major trophy, the Romanian Cup, after a penalty shoot-out last season. They repeated that feat in the Romanian Super Cup as well.

     
  38.  
    19:36:

    Astra have not won a game since mid-September and have drawn two, lost two since, disposing of their head coach in the process.

    Former Soviet Union and Ukraine international Oleg Protasov took charge of his first match as boss at the weekend, having replaced Daniel Isaila, and his side recorded a 1-1 draw away to mid-table Gaz Metan Medias to now sit fourth in Romanian top flight.

     
  39.  
    19:34:

    Celtic returned to winning ways at the weekend with that five-goal thumping of Ross County, but that followed a 1-0 home defeat by surprise Scottish Premiership leaders Hamilton Academical, so Ronny Deila's side can take nothing for granted. As the Celtic manager said yesterday, Astra would probably win the Scottish top flight if they swapped places with the Glasgow side.

     
  40.  
    19:30: On BBC Sport Scotland Facebook

    Euan Maclean: "3-1 Celtic."

    Michael Farrell McGill: "2-0 the hoops"

    Richard Macmillan: "Who are they going to play next, Corsa?"

     
  41.  
    19:28: Join the debate

    Give us your thoughts on BBC Sport Scotland Facebook.

     
  42.  
    19:27:

    Astra are minus injured Ghana Under-23 striker Sadat Bukari, while French winger Elliot Grandi, previously of Blackpool, is also missing.

     
  43.  
    19:22:

    The Celtic starting line-up confirms that Kris Commons has failed a fitness test after the high-scoring midfielder also missed Saturday's 5-0 thumping of Ross County.

    Emilio Izaguirre has recovered from an injury he sustained in that match and starts at left-back.

     
  44.  
    19:20: LINE-UPS

    Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Brown, Mulgrew, Johansen, McGregor, Scepovic, Stokes. Subs: Zaluska, Matthews, Ambrose, Tonev, Griffiths, Wakaso, Kayal.

    Astra Giurgiu: Lung Jr, Pliatsikas, Ben Youssef, Oros, Junior Morais, Laban, Yahaya, Enache, Seto, William Amorim, Budescu. Subs: Coman, Florescu, Bukari, Chitu, Fatai, Gaman, Rus.

    Referee: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland)

     
  45.  
    19:19: Join the debate by text on 80295
  46.  
    19:17: Join the debate #bbcscotfootball

    Tonight's visitors, Astra, are not named after a model of car by the way. Fotbal Club Astra Giurgiu are from Giurgiu, Romania, where they were founded in 1921 by an oil-company. Are there any other football clubs that might be mistaken for motor vehicles? Send us your ideas.

     
  47.  
    19:14:

    More on that Rangers statement later when we publish the full story. Now it's back to Celtic Park.

     
  48.  
    19:11:

    Dave King is heading back to South Africa and says he still hopeful that the club will accept his £16m investment offer despite no agreement being reached so far.

    "Our initial proposal to the board was to invest the full £16m by way of equity at 20p per share," he says in a statement.

    "The board requested that we consider a debt/equity mix that would reduce dilution for existing shareholders and allow the debt component to be advanced prior to the extended time frame required for the approval of additional equity.

    "We are amenable to this and to working with the board on the mechanics necessary to ensure that this is achieved provided that the full investment is recognised by way of board representation.

    "We wish to appoint an equal number of members to the board and have the key say regarding the appointment of the chairperson.

    "We will not invest funds and let the existing board determine how these funds are spent. That has not worked well in the past."

     
  49.  
    19:10:

    More of the game from Celtic Park to come. However, we can bring you news from across Glasgow, where former director Dave King has issued a fresh statement about his negotiations with Rangers about his proposal to provide vital funding for the cash-strapped Ibrox club.

     
  50.  
    19:08:

    Celtic start tonight's match hot favourites to beat Romanian visitors who sit bottom of Group D after losing their home opener 2-1 against Salzburg before being on the wrong end of a 5-1 hammering by Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

    Tonight's hosts, meanwhile, sit top after edging out Dinamo 1-0 at home before scraping a 2-2 draw in Austria.

     
  51.  
    19:05:

    Welcome to another European night, hopefully one full of drama, on the BBC Sport website.

    Here we have live text coverage as Celtic host Romanians Astra Giurgiu in the third round of fixtures in Group D of the Europa League.

    If your preference is trannies, you can tweak your dials to BBC Radio Scotland 810MW, where you will find live radio commentary by Liam MacLeod from Celtic Park.

     

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