Celtic have strongly refuted claims by Tony Mowbray that the club effectively prevented him accepting managerial jobs at "three or four" clubs before he took over at Middlesbrough.

Mowbray was removed from his position as Hoops' boss after a 4-0 defeat at St Mirren in March 2010, but remained on the payroll before taking over at the Riverside Stadium in October. The former Celtic defender claimed failure to negotiate a pay-off with the Glasgow giants stopped him accepting any job offers and that he had to eventually write off around £350,000 to become Boro boss.

However, a Celtic spokesman told Press Association Sport: "We are very surprised at these comments. Here are the facts. Only one formal approach was made regards Tony and that was from Middlesbrough. We blocked no other approaches."

Mowbray was reported on STV as telling a meeting of Boro fans at a question and answer session: "I had three or four other offers before the Middlesbrough job came along.

"At the time, I was owed a lot of money by Celtic and they weren't prepared to do a deal to allow me to take those jobs, so I didn't take them.

"I thought they were being unfair so I waited. Then the Boro job came up and I was interested. I spoke with Keith [Lamb, Middlesbrough chief executive] and Steve [Gibson, Middlesbrough chairman] and we knew we had to do something with Celtic.

"I personally wrote off around £350,000 to take the Middlesbrough job. That's not me boasting, it's just the way it is.

"I wanted to get back to work really. I think my family were getting sick of me and I needed to get back in."

A Celtic spokesman added: "Celtic paid every penny that was due to Tony under his contract up to the point where he requested to be released from his contract. This we did without hesitation in order that he could resume his career."