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. TIMGREEN – thanks for sharing The Athletic article, which is a more engaging read than that offered by Paulo.



    Trying to get to the nub of your piece Paul – aside from Dom was out his depth – I’m struck by the two phrases:


    ‘The transformation at the club since the end of last season has been beyond my expectations…’




    “He made mistakes, one was largish…’



    Can you clarify Paul, was it Dom’s input that accelerated our club (not team) transformation yet he blundered in some kind of way that big enough to eclipse the transformation that in just over twa months, most of the fans could see and feel good about.



    Was the transformation someone else’s doing…? This ex-accoontant who has inherent CEO bandwidth or DD himself.



    Still and all, I cannae wait for Dom’s side of the story…only right we hear him out!

  2. JHB @ 2.27



    You do talk some amount of *hite.


    Your grasp of reality is tenuous at best.



    You sound like a particularly precocious teenager.


    Adrian Mole aged 13 and three quarters.

  3. CorkCelt – so, so sad. It happened 50 yards, away from my house. There are teenagers there now paying their respects, some of them in tears. Just a devastating thing to happen. Life can be brutal.

  4. 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.





    Madmitch I agree with most of the above apart from;



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



    You might be right of course DD might have decided that he didn’t like him, if you’re face doesn’t fit! However, I don’t know what ideas Dom would have had which weren’t discussed in his recruitment, when he started etc. All companies decide what they want/need from their CEO and he/she delivers, or doesn’t. I’d be surprised that he only after a few weeks went off track. It’s more likely DD was miffed and that’s it. Or of course none of the above is correct and we’re all speculating about something we don’t know and possibly never will unless Dom spills the beans, unlikely as I assume he’ll want another job.

  5. Just a quick addendum – if appointing the new manager was the CEO’S first and most important task, and if he failed in that – surely that undermines confidence in him.



    Ange’s frustration at the lack of urgency in getting players in may also have been directed at Dom.



    The “board bad” and “Dom good” argument is over-simplistic and maybe very wide of the mark.

  6. MCPHAIL BHOY on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:36 PM




    In course of his appointment maybe Dom ‘talked the talk’ – in situ maybe he couldn’t ‘walk the walk’.

  7. McPB @ 2.36



    There is talking and there is doing.


    General stuff points to DD taking a dislike to DMcK views / actions.



    One comment to me on Saturday morning was very specific about DD / the Irish Raj not being impressed. Might be a case that DD was not happy to be treated as a major shareholder rather than the owner he thinks he is / he is accustomed to.



    The paper talk of DD getting involved in some of the transfers was an early sign.


    Then there is the chat on KDS that by the AZ game it was like he didn’t exist — DD was being very dismissive of his efforts and progress.



    However a 34% shareholder is just that — he is not our corporate “God”.

  8. Barrowfield developments — the indoor football pitch has gone.


    All we are getting is a new changing room block and a youth gym.



    Upgrade on what we have not the game changer we need.


    I’m sure DMcK will be getting the blame sometime in the future.

  9. MADMITCH on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:33 PM




    Seemed to have touched your “I’ve made my mind up” nerve…sorry old bean!

  10. @ JHB on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:53 PM



    Dom was not officially CEO while majority of Howe talks were ongoing.



    We’ve had years of tortured transfers business.

  11. JHB on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:53 PM



    It would seem harsh if DM was blamed for Howe as it wasn’t him who identified him and it wasn’t him who kept Lennon in a role he was no longer capable of succeeding six months too long.



    The point about transfers may be true. Fans and Ange himself seemed frustrated as to how long it was taking to get transfers over the line before reports were that DD was going to personally take a grip of it. This might’ve been the beginning of the end.






    I am being sent the letter, with the QR code, rather than have it on my phone. I phoned 08081968565. I hope this helps



    FYI…if you log in to your vaccine status on nhsinform, you can request a download of your letter which will then be available on your phone.

  13. JHB on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 2:53 PM



    Just a quick addendum – if appointing the new manager was the CEO’S first and most important task, and if he failed in that – surely that undermines confidence in him.






    That’s an interesting point in that the now-prevailing narrative is that AP was D McKay’s man through there being some kind of family connection via McKay’s brother being a pal of AP



    My personal take has remained that AP was appointed through the City Football Group connection as his former club Yokohama are a member.



    So if AP genuinely feels comfortable at the club then his comments regarding not being solely dependent on McKay for his job are further proof of the continuing influence of P Lawwell.

  14. PHILBHOY on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 12:11 PM


    Well, if Phil Mac G says that it must be true.










    Well,many seem quite happy to listen to whatever guff suits their agenda.Going from what I have heard from,”Those in the know”,I will stick with Phil.Never a Board lover in the past.

  15. We had a poor bench this week but we had Adam , who, IMO, can play most positions on the field.



    Gem of a player frae our academy. Again.

  16. CAREFUL NOW on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 1:21 PM


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



    You don’t know this.Why pick one opinion in front of another.Unless it suits your agenda.

  17. I smell shite. When Dom started I doubt very much he’d try to change EVERYTHING in one go. The entire operation would work to the status quo initially and Dom would attempt to change things one piece at a time.


    Management is run on a pyramid design. Everyone has someone to report to. Waiters to supervisors, supervisors to charge hands, charge hands to managers etc etc.


    If Dom HAS failed I’d be looking at those beneath him in all departments. He couldn’t possibly get that much wrong in such a short space of time. Something stinks

  18. Paper vaccination certs will be very easily copied. Like a fake ID for underage drinkers.


    A normal smart phone will run out of charge on a day / night out. So unless you carry a charger ( and lead ) the QR code will not be totally reliable.



    As for only checking a certain percentage of a football crowd. Who picks ?


    It may leave the ID police open to discrimination or human rights accusations.




  19. JHB



    I’m with Mad Mitch. Step out from the other side of the looking glass.



    As someone who had to help manage culture change the first thing to be aware of is that those you are trying to get buy in from will resist you strongly.



    So the first job is to sell them the benefits to them of the changes you propose. Doing that to resistant staff is difficult but doable, however if the Directors resist you are fecked before you start.



    Knowing what I have learned in pursuing Res12 for 8 years I cannot say I’m surprised McKay left.



    If you are a person of probity and find yourself dealing with folk who are not, it’s only a matter of time before you realise the culture gap is unbridgeable.



    What angers me and keeps me going, (the Board will be asked to account for their responses to share holders at the 2019 and 2020 AGMs at next AGM in respect of their justification for voting against the 2019 Resolution 12 and denying sight of the 5WA agreement which were at odds with the full truth) is that a club founded on probity, which makes it attractive to many to support through thick and thin, is being run by folk for whom probity is a stranger in a strange land.



    The mistake I might have made is overestimating the numbers in the support who think probity matters.




    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.




    REALLY!!!!!!!!!!!.A self made BILLIONAIRE.I am sure he will be taking lessons from the likes of you.Fekin lunatic.

  21. TURKEYBHOY on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 3:21 PM



    What time tomorrow is Phil saying the Huns are going bust again?

  22. TURKEYBHOY on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 3:30 PM



    I have to say that was a tea over laptop punchline

  23. squire danaher on 13th September 2021 3:31 pm






    What time tomorrow is Phil saying the Huns are going bust again?







    Celtic Must just concentrate on Celtic being the best they can be.

  24. Probity



    the quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.



    Its absence will kill Celtic as a beacon of it in a world that desperately needs to see it resurrected.

  25. An Dun wrote,



    DÚN on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 1:49 PM


    It sounds to me that Dominic McKay was undermined at every level.




    “It seems to me” not be entertained in any court in the country.Rumours,nothing more,nothing less.

  26. PETEC on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 3:35 PM



    As a Celtic supporter that’s all I ask.



    But our custodians disagree.



    Which is why we’re in our current predicament.

  27. ONIL






    Lawwell quick news……



    If you say so,but we have all been subjected to your agenda,Ad Nauseum over the years.Yours is the last opinion I would listen to.



    Huge mistake?….surely not as huge as the John McGinn debacle!!!!



    What,the John Mc Ginn who chose Villa over Celtic.That fekin drum is worn out.

  29. Alison McConnell’s latest piece (and given she seems to get info from the Board we can assume she’s basically passing on the message) suggests that the conflict was between McKay wanting to reform and modernise whereas the Board felt the fundamentals were fine: 5 academy graduates in the team on Saturday, £50m in player sales brought in, won lots over the past while, and winning trophies will make everything ok again. No mention of our European embarrassments or the Board’s downright hostility to the fans and limited mention of the shambles of last season. Also a bit of backslapping over not needing a loan from the Scottish Government but no mention it was only through the support of season ticket holders that this is the case.



    Seems like the largish mistake was to be more ambitious than bringing in Strachan as DoF and a head of recruitment.



    Impression of Celtic chaos not the full picture amid boardroom drama of Dom McKay departure – Alison McConnell


    By Alison McConnell @alibali76



    Dom McKay may have gone but the club are in a decent place.






    Amid the fall-out of the political upheaval going on behind the scenes at Celtic Park there has been a growing narrative that chaos reigns in the boardroom.


    Few would argue that Celtic as a business entity could do with moving to a more modern football shape with a director of football and a head of recruitment. It would address some of the issues and many of the questions that have come to the fore this weekend in the aftermath of Dom McKay’s exit from the club less than three months after formally accepting the post.




    The impression that has been formed over the last 72 hours is that the winds of change will continue to blow through the PLC with further movement anticipated.


    The focal point of the board came into sharp focus in the aftermath of a season in which Celtic crumbled in their bid for a tenth successive title.



    The nature of the collapse put every aspect of the club under the microscope. The bottom line, though, is that winning trophies tends to relegate much of what goes on at boardroom level to little other than background noise.



    Michael Nicholson has been named as acting chief executive and it remains to be seen whether that evolves into a permanent appointment or whether he prefers to stay in the shadows.


    But for anyone who is going into the business side of the club, it is worth considering some of the factors that have underpinned recent seasons. That there needs to be a modernisation is inarguable but, equally, there are solid financial footings that undermine any argument regarding the perception that it is a ‘mess’ that lies under the bonnet for any potential incomer to shift and sort. 


    This is, after all, a business that did not suffer a single financial tremor in the aftermath of Covid and the issues it raised. Celtic were the only top flight club who did not accept the offer of a government grant to offset losses sustained during the height of the pandemic.



    A recent league game showcased five Celtic academy graduates on the pitch; current captain Callum McGregor, James Forrest who, with 19 major honours will end his Celtic career as one of the most decorated players to have played for the club, Adam Montgomery, Stephen Welsh and Anthony Ralston. Kieran Tierney left Celtic for Arsenal two summers ago for a Scottish transfer record of £25m after emerging through the ranks. There are few top-flight academies who can boast comparable stats.


    Players sales since Jeremie Frimpong left the club to go to Bayern Leverkusen in January sit just shy of £50m. Even those players who were signed and failed to make the grade at Celtic were moved on yet still at profit; only Marian Shved and Olivier Ntcham would present a financial loss. Kris Ajer was signed for £650k and has just left for a fee upwards of £13.5m, Ryan Christie with less than six months until he could sign for other clubs still banked Celtic money when he left at the end of the window.



    Of the last 15 domestic trophies on offer, Celtic have claimed 12 of them. The loss of the 10 will echo yet but it’s difficult to envisage a quadruple treble for any team in the country any time soon.


    Whatever the inner politics and power struggles that have gone on, there are issues that need to be addressed and there is a fundamental structural direction that the club has to agree on. But, ultimately, at a time when the accusations of getting so much wrong are an accepted truth, a rational observer would conclude that it is not quite so black and white. 


    Ultimately, whatever the inheritance is for those who are charged with modernising the current PLC, the foundations remain firmly in place to restore a solid footing.



    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….



    Very short memory.You are the one to label others Huns because they dig you up.Charlatan.

  31. TURKEYBHOY on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 3:25 PM


    CAREFUL NOW on 13TH SEPTEMBER 2021 1:21 PM





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







    You don’t know this.Why pick one opinion in front of another.Unless it suits your agenda.







    No agenda. This is my opinion. Quite happy to admit I’m wrong and even apologise; IF facts are established, that prove me wrong.


    We are all entitled to express our opinions.


    Perhaps if there was anything approaching professional communication from Celtic Park, there wouldn’t be so many and varied opinions expressed. Till that happens, my opinion is as valid as anyones.