Scottish Daily Mail
Writing was on the wall for doomed Dom when Desmond made him the Man with No Name...
IN hindsight, Dominic McKay must wish he’d accepted that offer of help on the end of a phone. Peter Lawwell had a readymade crisis line on the nuts and bolts of running Celtic. And his successor chose not to call it. Inexperienced in the world of football transfers and rebuilding a football club, that was his first mistake. Regrettably, it wouldn’t be his last. Last night, the former chief operating officer of the Scottish Rugby Union paid a heavy price for his determination to go it alone when he lost the confidence of major shareholder Dermot Desmond... and jumped before he was pushed after nine weeks in office. The omens were unpromising from the day — three months before he’d even started — when McKay became the Man with No Name. The search for a managerial replacement for Neil Lennon was becoming a saga when Desmond felt compelled to address disgruntled fans. He didn’t tell them much. He rarely does. However, asked who would take charge of the process destined to end in the appointment of Ange Postecoglou, Desmond did offer
one pearl of unintended insight: ‘The chairman Ian Bankier, Peter Lawwell and myself will take a lead in the process and naturally the incoming CEO will also participate.’ After 17 years as chief executive, no one expected Lawwell to be pushed to one side like an old pair of shoes. And, with a start date of July 1, McKay was still serving his notice with the SRU. He barely had his feet under the table. But it was never going to be Lawwell facing the job of striking up a working relationship with Eddie Howe or Postecoglou. That job would fall to the man dismissed in a few words by Desmond as the ‘incoming CEO’. Before he’d walked in the door, McKay had already been dismissed as a ‘meanwhile’. While rumours over his suitability for the post have swirled since day one, the
departure of a CEO after nine weeks is an embarrassing state of affairs for a club of Celtic’s standing. After the mocking of Rangers, the Banter Years have moved to the other side of Glasgow. McKay expressed a desire to modernise and upgrade the club’s operations. He set out to be his own man. Plucked from the world of professional rugby, he knew nothing about football transfers — and he showed no inclination to accept a helping hand from those who did. Lawwell was the exception to the rule which states Celtic chief execs don’t hang around very long. For close to two decades, he micro-managed every facet of the club so that Irish billionaire Desmond didn’t have to. And, for that reason alone, he was always going to be a hard act to follow. When push comes to shove, Celtic weren’t ready for the upheaval. Least of all Desmond, a man who spent the summer adopting an unusually hands-on role. He was involved in the signing of players such as Joe Hart. He conducted the meetings with Eddie Howe until the Englishman took cold feet. He gave the green light to Postecoglou’s appointment and persuaded Gordon Strachan to pitch up as a consultant. Despite a club statement citing ‘personal reasons’ for a parting of the ways, it should be clear to all that McKay simply didn’t work out. His ideas were incompatible with the major shareholder and the board of directors. While he felt ready for Celtic, Celtic simply weren’t ready for him. It’s unclear what this means for the modernisation of the club. A change of chairman was always expected soon. Ditto a changing of the guard amongst non-exec directors. Where it leaves plans to appoint a director of football or head of recruitment remains to be seen. The appointment of club stalwart Michael Nicholson as interim chief executive marks a return to more familiar ground. A key figure in the acquisition of the manager and 12 new players, Nicholson is steeped in the club’s inner workings. He’s a safe pair of hands the Celtic board feel they can work with. The same could never really be said of McKay.