Blood on the boardroom carpet


Football is brutal.  Each year, boys who have worked tirelessly for years in the hope of making the big time are cut free, hundreds of them across Scotland, little has changed in this respect for a century.  Whereas these traumas happen privately, the managers and coaches responsible for those decisions, face their own brutal edge in the most public manner possible, often with hoards yelling for their removal.

At every level, someone has the responsibility of telling someone else, he or she is out.  This is the DNA of an industry we all wanted to be part of as kids, then look on in horror later in life.

Dominic McKay was one of our own, a Celtic fan who worked his way up to run Scottish Rugby, not through the usual routes of commercial, accounting or legal, but from being the in-house public relations man.  The transformation at the club since the end of last season has been beyond my expectations; failures at Tynecastle, Ibrox and Denmark did not cut deep, as the direction of travel was clearly forward.  His course seemed assured from the outside.

Despite the common delusion, chief executive of Celtic is neither easy nor straightforward.  You run a TV channel and other media outlets, several licenced premises and restaurants; a bricks and clicks retail operation.  You deal with the whim of the police and Scottish Government, the SFA and SPFL.  There is a youth operation, with its myriad of complexities and a major events venue that accommodates enough people to bring half a city to a stop when in operation.

Then there are the pressure groups: fans, media, a board and major shareholders; executive, coaching and playing staff.  None of them are really pressure groups, but that’s what they will feel like if you are trying to keep them happy.  Crucially, if you want to affect change, you need to be able to lead people in those pressure groups.  If you cannot lead, your lack of followers is your fault.  Genuine agents of change prove this.

And there’s the football, which underpins all revenue streams and can cause joy or heartbreak on the bounce of a ball.

Wealthy young players, some with more sense than others, the ever-present contract negotiations with agents whose job it is to find someone else to make more money than you can afford.  You make multi-million pound investments with consequences that stretch years into the future and despite all the metrics, whopping mistakes are made at every club.

The bandwidth you need to do this job well is unimaginable to most of us.  It takes management experience, people skills and a firm control on your stress levels.  You need to know when to be hands off and when to give clear and early guidance.  Doing 90% of the necessary elements brilliantly will lead to disaster if you overlook something fundamental.  You also need luck.

Dominic McKay found out about that brutal edge earlier than any of us expected; football is meritocratic in this respect.  It was not results, it had nothing to do with former execs who are now on the beach (honestly!), nor was it about character, his remains impeccable.

He made mistakes, one was largish, but even the best do.  If he had the bandwidth for the task, he could have done more to demonstrate this, a large and complex business will expose your bottlenecks.  At Celtic, PR is hugely complex but even then, it would never be a launching pad for the top job.  PR in rugby is mundane by comparison; this route to the top drew the eye when I read of Dom’s appointment.  He was not a good fit and this is a poor look for Celtic.

Best of luck in your next appointment, Dom.

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  1. The chat “inside football” is that either Dom or one of his family is unwell. I hope that’s not the case and I hope things work out for him. He did a good job at Scottish Rugby where his boss was wannabe Head of World Rugby via the top job at Twickenham, Mark Dodson, whom I doubt was easy to work with, and there were plenty of self-important types there for Dom to cope with. I don’t think he came into the Celtic job as the ingenue that’s being suggested.

  2. A very cheap shot at Dom, if I may say so Paul.


    If his modernisation Vision for the Club AND his potential deficiencies weren’t identified during the interview and discussion process; yet yet again we have to surely lay blame at our incompetent Board, for such outrageous failure appoint The Right Man. !!!!!!

  3. Paul67,



    Could you please expand on Dominic’s big mistake?



    Thank you for going over the complexity of being a Celtic CEO, it is indeed a daunting task but you honestly cannae leave it at that, IMO.

  4. Thank goodness none of our other execs made largish mistakes as we went from quadruple treble winners to 25 points behind in second place.


    Otherwise, they too could’ve been shown the door.

  5. it kinda is his club,



    his 34% preference share holding, with allies in Tranyor and Lindsell Train.



    We got rid of the family owners of the Limited Company 27 years ago, and we are back to a closed shop ownership model,



    maybe Dom suggested that DD had a share issue to raise funds and dilute his holding, or suggested new board structures, it is incredible that the renumaration committee can vote on their own salaries for example.



    until we actually hear the sack the board chant inside celtic park on a match day no pressue is on these guys to do anything different.

  6. Very difficult not to conclude that any football and commercial success we achieve is despite the way we’re run as a company.



    HH jg

  7. What we do know — starting with DD aka the Irish Raj …



    He has a 34% stake in the club — as best we can understand the share register.


    He acts / behaves / delivers as if he is the owner of the club.


    He is not but we let him live that lie.



    He is an absentee landlord — not a “small” people person.


    Fortune at his back — the Credit Crunch left its mark.


    Into arbitrage — the club is an arbitrage play and nothing more.


    Buy SPL cheap — sell EPL dear and walk away.



    DD will do anything needed to get us into the EPL.


    That includes keeping TFOD1 / TFOD2.1 in the game.



    He has had his heart broken by two high profile managers.


    This has left its mark — he values loyalty above all else and these two managers beat him.


    Consequently he has a CFC sized bruise on his arm and it does hurt.



    He wants the club run in a manner that means he will never have to put his hand in his pocket ever again — very happy to pay good money to useless charlatans as long as his ethos is delivered.



    DD is not a brand builder / no growth agenda has ever crossed his lips.


    In 26 county high finance circles he is seen as the doddery uncle who’s day has come and gone.


    He is a figure of fun to the current movers and shakers — moustache / blazer / tan.


    You could say he is the Terry Thomas figure of the 26 counties business elite.


    He has a good contacts book / can still network / got a gaff in the sun.


    Consequently still gets the invites but not now a key player.



    The second generation are not up to much and that pains him.


    They get involved because of his influence — they would be driving taxis if he didn’t have any.



    Consequently we now find ourselves in a very difficult position.


    The support pony up £40mill pa directly to the club.


    In contrast DD puts in nothing — and has done so for the last 16 years.


    In fact it is worse than that — he takes out £500K plus in bond / fancy share dividends pa.



    We pay / He plays.


    At CP his word is law.


    We let him get away with it.


    And indeed — many still clap at his efforts.



    We are going nowhere with him involved in the club.


    DMcK tried to move us on and he was moved out.


    DD didn’t fancy him or his plans and so he was gone.



    He has survived the total shambles that was last season.


    He thinks he is infallible / unmovable.


    He needs to find out differently.

  8. Tunnock’s had a turnover of circa £65m to year end 2020 and they operate in a far more difficult market than us; Tunnock’s can’t rely upon their customer base purchasing their product irrespective if quality or offering.



    More ass covering from our board and no one will be held accountable.



    I would bet on our interim CEO getting the job. Which CEO of any standing would risk coming to Celtic and dealing with our current Board?

  9. RIP to Aidan Pilkington, who was killed in a hit and run on the Crow Road in Jordanhill on Friday night. Absolutely devastating for the family and a young life cruelly taken. The Daily Record are reporting a Celtic B team player was arrested for it.

  10. FoD @ 1.18



    That is just one whole load of tripe.


    You really do need better sources / inside football — like who?


    PL’s pet journalists / bloggers?



    The concerted briefing to the press that DMcK was not up to it blew the personal reasons sticking plaster out of the water.



    What kind a club are we who would brief in the press against a departing CEO who had major health issues in his family?



    No — that dog don’t hunt.

  11. JIMDOM on 13th September 2021 1:16 pm



    Excellent post. There seems to be a willingness amongst the support to accept anything from the board without complaint. The forelock tugging gives me the boak.

  12. It sounds to me that Dominic McKay was undermined at every level. If Ross Desmond was receiving phone calls about transfer business then he should simply forward the correct point of contact details on, he’s no role to play at Celtic and shouldn’t be playing championship manager – same goes for this dad.



    I doubt very much any potential outsider will opt for this job so it’s fairly obvious we’ll have a statement sometime in the new year telling us the Acting CEO is now simply the CEO.



    A corporate car crash from the people that appointed Lennon in the showers, left Lennon in charge for months too long. Approved Dubai. Then crippled the club waiting on Howe and now have lost a CEO after two months.



    The very idea that our board can dare question anyone’s competence given their recent track record is laughable.

  13. 12.54…Given Postecoglou was so explicity McKays man says who????


    Only recently in an interview Ange says Nicholsons was more involved in bringing him in????


    And he had known him for years ….I dunno where the interview is mabye someone could link it????

  14. jamesgang on 13th September 2021 1:28 pm



    Very difficult not to conclude that any football and commercial success we achieve is despite the way we’re run as a company.



    HH jg






    It’s almost like the business world has moved beyond 19th century-style absentee landlordism…

  15. WOW‼️ Is that a company man writing this?


    It’s just a pity you weren’t closer to the motorway; because that way you could’ve threw D.McKay under ANY one of the passing buses.


    I’ll check back on you later, in the meantime, KEEP toeing that company line.

  16. Davido



    Quite, Sire!





    Great to see you back here



    HH jg

  17. So we have no CEO, no head of recruitment and no head of sports science.


    I’m sure WGS will sort it all out.



    What a shambles of a football club we have become.


    To think we used to laugh at the huns.

  18. Think Paul’s Leader did realistically set out the complexities of the role of a CEO at Celtic.


    If he knows where things did go wrong, he didn’t tell us , nor would I expect him too.


    If Dom wasn’t right for the job then the finger of blame points to those who appointed him rather than the man himself.

  19. CaddingtonCommon on

    Having read Phil Mac’ s article, Paul’s leader, and a rambling diatribe from an unknown journalist from The Athletic we can safely say we are no further forward as to the reason(s) fo DM’s departure


    All three articles are a mixture of ifs , buts , conjecture and obfuscation.


    If any of the three authors has any substance please inform us all, otherwise the longer this continues the worse , in my opinion, it will become for DM.


    Hail Hail


    Stay Safe

  20. So, apart from changing our manager, what has changed ?


    Apart from the fact we have another Strachan on board.



    I cannot see AP reluctant to express his opinions. Navigation could be like :-



    “And now the storm is raging and we are far from shore, and the good old ship is tossing about and the rigging is all torn.”. and so on until



    ” And now the storm is over and we are safe and well”



    HH and fine girl you are.

  21. onenightinlisbon on

    ST TAMS on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:01 PM



    Not in the slightest.



    i still find it unbelievable that there are posters on here that, despite everything, support the charlatans and shysters we have running our beloved club. The very ones that are first to label other posters huns….

  22. Chavez,


    Aidan Pilkington , by all accounts one of our own, 19 years of age & due to start at Dundee University next week.


    A dreadful tragedy, God be good to his poor Family in trying to come to terms with their terrible loss.



    The law will take it’s course but all that matters now are his Family & friends,

  23. No offence to CD DJ’s



    Vinyl wis where its at.



    Carl is a Big Lad. He just Loves the “know what I mean”.



    If Vaccine Passports get traction. I might even go to an Illegal Rave.




  24. Genuine question: why is Ross Desmond playing any part in Celtic’s transfer dealings? He has role at Celtic (not that I have seen documented anywhere), so why are various sources mentioning his name at all in relation to goings on at the club this year?



    Celtic appears to be in the grips of another multi-generation family dynasty…

  25. What little credibility and integrity this site ever had in relation to the running of Celtic were lost over the Res 12 issue, so this article shouldn’t come as a surprise in its sleekitness, but even so.

  26. Petec,



    Maybe the illegal rave convenor will ask you for ” Papers please ”



    Is an illegal rave classed as a nightclub. Legal or otherwise, nobody, especially the decision makers have the answer.



    What did Paul 67 say about policy on a whim ?




  27. In the last article yesterday I wrote this about the departure of Dom:



    “He was announced months back and obviously appointed on his record at Scottish Rugby. Therefore to have cut things short so quickly must be down to his ten weeks in charge



    “Personal reasons” is the official line – maybe he just did not fit in….it happens.”




    Reading Paul today it would appear that I was not too far away.



    Perhaps his large mistake was the pursuance of Eddie Howe for so long. Ange has already said that he was not solely chosen by Dom, in fact we know he was ‘on the radar’ much earlier. Maybe there were those pushing for for the Eddie Howe project to be ditched much sooner with attention switched to Ange, and Dom resisted.



    Seeing the difference Ange has made since he arrived and the time ‘wasted” chasing Howe may have made up minds that Dom was not the answer. If that was the case then the quicker the position is rectified the better.

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