In a move that few if any seen coming, Celtic announced on Friday that CEO Dominic McKay would be stepping down from his position due to “personal reasons” after just 72 days in the role.
Regardless of the circumstances it’s a move which immediately throws the club back into a position of uncertainty and instability, and just when the fans thought we could finally start to focus on the football we’ve been forced to think again.
In light of the shock announcement the club’s current Director of Legal & Football Affairs, Michael Nicholson has been appointed to the Board of Celtic plc as acting CEO. A man with an impressive CV (but then McKay’s wasn’t too bad either) he should provide a safe pair of hands – however, as a trusted lieutenant of former CEO Peter Lawwell and current Chairman Ian Bankier is this simply a case of “as you were” and a step back to the old regime?
WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?
McKay’s appointment was heralded as a breath of fresh of fresh air and a key step in the much vaunted modernisation of Celtic, so where has it all gone so wrong, and so suddenly?
Did Celtic like the notion of modernising the club, but much less so the reality of carrying out such a process?
Did McKay try and do too much too soon? Was he light on allies within the corridors of Celtic Park? Or was he simply out of his depth in terms of the huge demand that such a role carries?
The real reasons for the sudden departure remain a mystery with many suggesting that McKay wasn’t given the autonomy to carry out his role effectively, with others suggesting he didn’t have the required skillset in the first place.
If the latter has indeed been the case however, then what exactly did the recruitment process that brought him to Celtic look like in the first place? We can only presume that it was as extensive and exhaustive as you would imagine for such a role, but if so then how have we managed to get the appointment so wrong?
IS A PATTERN EMERGING?
It’s interesting too to note a theme that has developed across two of our most important appointments in recent times.
Following an interim spell in charge which culminated in securing the “Treble Treble” at Hampden Park in May 2019, Neil Lennon was offered the Manager’s job on a permanent basis.
He was trusted to be the man best suited to take us to an historical ten league titles in a row.
He was trusted to follow in the extremely successful footsteps of Brendan Rodgers – a man who won every competition (7) he entered in Scotland.
Yet he just wasn’t trusted enough to bring in his own No.2, his own coaching team, or indeed any backroom staff at all of note.
Autonomy? It’s not for everyone.
Fast forward to Dom McKay officially taking the reigns as CEO on July 1st this year.
It’s been widely reported that a helping hand was “only a phonecall away” for McKay in the shape of Peter Lawwell, should he want to run anything past the former Chief Exec. The new man chose not to, as was his right. Did this temerity cost him?
It’s widely reported he wanted to appoint a Director of Football (with Man City’s Fergal Harkin being the man most expected to take on the role). This move was scrapped. A decision taken out of McKay’s hands?
When asked at his inaugural press conference about the possibility of Gordon Strachan coming back to the club as a Director of Football, McKay categorically and emphatically ruled that out. Today Gordon Strachan is under the employ of Celtic Football Club. Dominic McKay is not.
As an aside don’t be surprised to see further developments in that area between the club and Strachan. Watch this space.
In August Celtic decided to charge Season Ticket Holders £19 to attend our UCL Qualifier with FC Midtjylland – the same fans who had parted with their hard earned cash for a full 2020/21 season of watching their team on the telly (when the stream was working that is!). It’s claimed that on that occasion McKay wanted to make the call to allow all Season Ticket Holders the chance to attend for free – an open goal in terms of goodwill, fan relations, and in simply doing the right thing. He was reportedly rebuffed in his efforts to do so.
Again, undermined and over ruled.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Autonomy is defined as “freedom from external control or influence”. As the Chief Executive of Celtic Football Club can we realistically say that Dominic McKay was afforded this luxury?
Regardless of whether you think McKay was the right man at the wrong time, the wrong man at the right time, or something in between, what we do know is that following the announcement in January that Lawwell was to retire we somehow find ourselves in September with no CEO, no Sporting Director and no Head of Sports Science.
If it’s worrying you, just think how Ange Postecoglou feels!