Michael Nicholson was recently promoted to the position of Interim Celtic CEO and elevated to the Celtic Boardroom, being appointed a Director of Celtic PLC at the same time as he was given the top job at the club. Yet after two weeks in the job, since the shock departure of Dom McKay, who lasted just 72 days in the job as Peter Lawwell’s successor, Michael Nicholson has said absolutely nothing publicly to the Celtic support.
However with the release this morning of Celtic PLC Results for the year ended 30 June 2021, Michael Nicholson has at last made some comments within the Results document writing the Chief Executive’s View. Nicholson incidentally makes no mention at all of Dom McKay in his remarks below, which are included in the Celtic PLC Results released today.
We have already reported on what the Celtic PLC Chairman Ian Bankier has had to say this morning and now let’s have a read of Michael Nicholson’s commentary on these financial results and the situation at the club during the past year.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S REVIEW
The year ended 30 June 2021 was one of the most challenging periods the Club has faced in recent history. The impact of Covid-19 and consequential events disrupted our winning rhythm and, crucially, prevented our supporters from attending Celtic Park. Despite securing a historic quadruple treble in December 2020, following the delayed completion of season 2019/20, we were extremely disappointed to relinquish all three domestic trophies in season 2020/21. Similarly, we did not progress beyond the group stages of the Europa League as we had done in the previous season.
With the domestic game, European football and the transfer market in a state of profound uncertainty, we decided at the outset of the 2020/21 season to retain our key players and augment the squad with new acquisitions and loan players. We acquired the registrations of Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and David Turnbull, retained Mohamed Elyounoussi on loan and brought in experienced internationals Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt on loan. For a combination of reasons it did not work out for us.
In February, Neil Lennon decided to step down as football manager and assistant manager John Kennedy stepped up to take the team to the end of the season. Our Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell, who had decided to retire during the season under review, stood down on 30 June 2021 after 17 successful years at the Club. I would like to thank both Neil and Peter sincerely for their leadership, commitment and unflinching support they have given the Club, through thick and thin.
Having endured the season described above, we have drawn a line under this and look to move the Club forward, as always. The Club was delighted to recruit Ange Postecoglou as football manager. Ange is a highly experienced international coach who started his career in Australia, following much domestic success by leading his country at international level at the World Cup finals and winning a continental championship, before more recently joining Yokohama in Japan, winning the J League Title. Ange is a winner and has a clear vision of the football he wants us to play, which reflects the Club’s values and style of play.
In the year under review, we sold the registrations of Jeremie Frimpong, Jack Hendry and Patryk Klimala. And then over the summer transfer window, post year end, we have refreshed the squad, adding 12 new signings, whilst some players have moved on. In addition, academy graduates Stephen Welsh, Tony Ralston and Adam Montgomery have made a strong contribution to the first team in recent months, with other academy graduates also gaining vital experience. Although we will always have work to do, our playing squad is in good shape for the season ahead.
We thank and pay tribute to the players who have left us, and we wish them well, as they progress their individual football careers. I make special mention of our outgoing captain, Scott Brown, who spent 16 years at Celtic amassing ten Scottish ten Scottish championships, five Scottish Cups, and six Scottish League Cups. I thank Scott for his immense contribution to Celtic and I wish our new captain, Calum McGregor, and all of our new players success in their roles going forward under our new manager.
Over the recent years we have invested heavily in our football department so that it can perform at the highest levels in supporting our playing squads and our player identification and development strategy. That investment fed in to one of the most successful periods on the pitch in the Club’s history, and we will continue to devote substantial investment to these key areas, our objective being to remain at the forefront of the modern game. A number of evolutionary initiatives are currently under way, to build on that success and to continue to take the Club forward.
Building on the growth and investment in previous years, season 2020/21 saw for the first time a full time professional Celtic FC Women’s team take the field, competing in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. This was both a significant and a proud moment for the Club. Led by our manager Fran Alonso, our team finished second in the Scottish Women’s Premier League, which was a notable achievement. We will continue to invest for future success in this important area of the Club.
I am also pleased to report that a Celtic B team has entered the Scottish Lowland League for the first time in season 2021/22, led by manager Tommy McIntyre. This provides a competitive environment for player development and represents an important step in our player pathway strategy to progress our best young talent from the academy into the first team.
In the last year we have enjoyed working alongside Adidas, our new technical kit partner. The response of the Club’s supporters to the new merchandise has been outstanding, with record sales through our stores and online. This reflects both the combined global strength of the Club and Adidas brand as well as the quality of the products on offer and we look forward to successful years ahead with Adidas as a key partner. We also thank Dafabet, Magners and all of our partners for their ongoing support and for working collaboratively and constructively with the Club through the impact of Covid-19.
After the disappointments of last season, our supporters have stuck by the Club and I sincerely thank them for that. In very difficult circumstances, our supporters have backed Ange and the team with remarkable season ticket sales over the summer period. Celtic Park is finally back as it should be; full of the best supporters in world football. Everyone at the Club wants to reward our supporters’ commitment and loyalty with entertaining and winning football and I look forward to this current season with optimism.
In closing, I would like to recognise the personal efforts and sacrifices of all colleagues at the Club over this challenging period. Their selfless dedication and steadfast commitment to Celtic has played a vital role in the Club emerging from the impact of Covid-19 and gives us a solid foundation to restore the success that our supporters and everyone at the Club desire.
Michael Nicholson, Acting Chief Executive
20 September 2021
I don't want leaders happy with 2nd best, I don't want leaders who prefer excess money in the bank to quality players on the pitch. I want leaders with the skills and vision to make @CelticFC the best it can be. HH pic.twitter.com/Zsi4m2u6At
— Celtic Gossip (@CelticGossip) September 21, 2021