CELTIC manager Martin O'Neill has sold his shareholding in Kevin Moran's UK sports marketing company and agent Proactive Sports.
O'Neill's position as a shareholder in Proactive has been a thorny issue over the past three years as the club has dealt with a number of Proactive clients during that time leading to inevitable questions about the potential conflict of interest.
Celtic paid 3.9m to take Alan Thompson, a Proactive client, to Celtic Park in September 2000. It also sold Proactive Client Alan Stubbs to Everton during the time when O'Neill was a shareholder. When questioned about the O'Neill's shares last year Celtic issued a statement saying it would "take steps to ensure that no potential conflict of interest will ever arise".
Other prominent managers in the UK, including Newcastle's Bobby Robson, Bolton Wanderers' Sam Allardyce and Leeds United's Peter Reid (then manager of Sunderland) had also been shareholders in Proactive, though all have since disposed of their shares.
Proactive itself has strongly denied any suggestions of a conflict of interest in relation to any transfer deals undertaken with teams whose managers held Proactive shares. Earlier this year, Proactive told The Sunday Tribune that "the inference that managers would not act in the best interest of their clubs, just because they have a shareholding in Proactive, is offensive to those people concerned".
It also pointed out that the shareholding of managers amounted to less than 1% of the company's equity and that all investors paid the full price for the shares either through market purchases or at the time of the company's flotation.
According to the Proactive share register O'Neill sold his entire share holding, of 172,000 shares, on 20 May. The shares were sold for less than 10,000, though they were worth substantially more than that during the company's heyday. It floated on London's Alternative Investment Market in late 2001, rising from stg25p to 40.5p on its debut.
Former Manchester United and Ireland player Kevin Moran was chief financial officer of the company at the time. He has since left Proactive but continues to own a 9.1% stake.
Recently Moran has been back in the market, picking up 618,000 shares two weeks ago at 4p each.
The stock is currently trading at just over 5p. Recently Proactive announced it is making a 17.5m "non-cash exceptional goodwill writedown" on its balance sheet following a review of its operations by Deloitte and Touche.