THE football world went into full guessing game mode last night in the fall-out of Celtic announcing Dom McKay had stepped down as chief executive.
Peter Lawwell’s successor quit his top-ranking post at the Scottish Rugby Union to take over at Parkhead on April 19 – but his quickfire tenure ended with the unexpected news he had departed the building after a mere 144 days, as CQN reported.
It had looked a seamless changeover with Lawwell remaining in position to show the new man the ropes before leaving on his pre-arranged date on June 30 to allow McKay to fly solo.
So, what happened to bring about the dramatic conclusion to such a brief period in power?
HELLO AND FAREWELL…Dom McKay during his brief stay as Celtic CEO.
As usual, the entire episode is being played out in public with everyone chipping in, conjecture and speculation at odds with each other and theories that will be proved to be wildly off target somewhere down the line.
We can discount comments about McKay leaving because Lawwell, who spent 18 mainly successful years in the role, remains a presence at the club. That’s not the case as will be emphasised some time in the future.
So, was McKay pushed or did he jump? It’s a fair question and Celtic fans deserve an answer.
The club’s statement insists he was stepping down for “personal reasons”. It’s a convenient umbrella that covers a fair amount of possibilities.
The job of CEO of Celtic was always going to be a challenge emerging from the world of rugby where the glare of the spotlight is hardly at the same voltage with that of a top role at Parkhead. McKay was pitched in at the deep end and was asked to display Olympian qualities to get to the other end while delivering gold.
THE WAY WE WERE…ex-chief executive Peter Lawwell and supremo Dermot Desmond.
He welcomed in a new manager in Ange Postecoglou after Eddie Howe realised the onerous task of operating at such a high-altitude level was not for him.
Three players were delivered on deadline day to bring the total of new signings to 12 during a frantic rebuild while the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie headed for the exit.
It has been a whirlwind period for the club and it will only be in the coming months when everyone will realise the value of this transfer window. On the face of it, you have to believe it looks positive.
In the midst of a landslide of inferences, one thing remains clear: majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has been more hands-on than a multi-billionaire with multiple business interests elsewhere may have cared to be involved.
The Irishman spent time on the extended pursuit of Howe before the former Bournemouth boss shied away. There was the swift switch to bring in Postecoglou and there was the overseeing some of the transfer deals such as Joe Hart, the 34-year-old former England international No.1 who at last looks like ridding the team of the spectre of erratic and unreliable goalkeepers.
FLASHBACK JUNE 18…Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay meet for the first time in London.
Desmond would also have had a part to play in bringing back Gordon Strachan albeit on a short-term contract to take care of other aspects of the club.
In the absence of a director of football, McKay was forced to take a crash course in football transfer acumen where you are not only dealing with an individual player but an entourage of lawyers and agents.
There would have been no hiding place. During such feverish and hectic times, friction is always evident.
‘Informed’ tales will abound, as they always do in football, but there is always the possibility the move just has not worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
In that case, change is required. And, in Celtic’s situation, as swiftly as possible.
In the meantime, good luck to the club’s Legal and Football Affairs expert Michael Nicholson, who joined the club in 2013 and who has stepped into the breach in a temporary basis, for the time being anyway.
Time will tell if this untimely boardroom upheaval will ultimately prove to be successful in a vitally important campaign for a club setting its sights on a tenth title in 11 years and the £40million reward with automatic entry into the Champions League group stages next year.
Tough decisions are made in such a climate.
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