The Shark Infested Seas of the Celtic Boardroom

Dominic McKay will be able to have had a few well-funded morning lie-in this week following the cited ‘personal reasons’ of his departure last Friday afternoon. As he sipped his second mid-morning cup of coffee and listened intently to the shipping forecast, he must wonder where it all went wrong. Was he too ambitious too soon, did he not communicate his plans well enough, did he ignore advice? Was the jump from the SRU to Celtic too much too soon or was it that comment after the board meeting about Universal Credit not being enough to live on that was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

There will be many things swirling round his mind, but if I was him, I think the one that would make me dive back under the covers for 40 winks rather than take the missus for a spin in the family yacht, would be the Celtic Board decided he wasn’t fit for purpose. Ouch.

Celtic’s chief executive Dominic McKay Photo: Andrew Milligan

For a guy who has had a look under the bonnet at Celtic for several weeks, to then be told by a board who made a pig’s ear of the whole of the previous season, and are currently gambling the success of this one already, that you’re not up to scratch must be akin to the captain of the Titanic advising Dom his navigational skills simply won’t suffice.

Because no matter what the reasons were, and NDA or not Dom’s side with a strong communications background will eventually make its way one way or another into the public domain via some third party and plausible deniability, we are where we are. Again!

So where exactly are we? Well back to square one. At the tail end of last year, we were advised there was a New Year Review of the structure of the club taking place. You’d assume now that was lip service because if I haven’t seen a mate since last year and I meet him in September he’s just saying ‘Hi Niall, long time no see’, he’s not wishing me a Happy New Year. And even if they didn’t tell us anything about the outcome of said review, which is par for the course with Celtic, evidence would be stacking up of improvements or changes afoot.

Dominic McKay in the directors box. Photo Andrew Milligan

Instead, we stand today with one thing different, we have Ange Postecoglou instead of Neil Lennon. And that’s a big improvement, but even then, this board took some five months to eventually punt the last guy and a further three months to mess up the Eddie Howe appointment, so forgive me for suggesting they struck lucky with Ange rather than had the big Aussie earmarked as part of the January review or any grand footballing restructure. It’s also simply not enough having been reviewing this for apparently some ten months now.

Other than that, we almost have more situations vacant than people in post at the moment and we are no closer to any future footballing operations plan being communicated.

Celtic Park Celtic temporary chief executive Michael Nicholson (centre) Photo: Jeff Holmes

We are back to needing a new CEO, how long will that take?We still haven’t replaced the Head of Football Operations, a post vacated when Nick Hammond moved on, we still have no Chief Scout – a role vacated when Gary Penrice caught the same cab to Glasgow Central as Hammond.

These are roles previously deemed essential but still that office space gathers dust. The manager still has no staff whatsoever of his own in place despite claims he needed at the very least support in other areas, even if not directly involved with coaching, though worryingly he did state coaching staff would be something looked at after the transfer window and that he and McKay had been having discussions.

Are we back to the first tee with that one now too?

Photo by Stuart Wallace

And even discounting the roles still awaiting a restructure and job descriptions to then advertise for, what of the outgoings? Peter Lawwell left – kind of – but what of others who presided over the club’s decline? And not just last year, the suits who appear happy to focus in on domestic domination, a green pound a pound ahead of the blue pound, and discard the European ambitions of the support. And I don’t mean winning Europa Leagues or Champions league. I mean just qualifying for Champions’ league group stages or winning a European knockout fixture after Christmas, something we haven’t done since 2004.

And even if that is all a bit too ‘football’ how about ‘business’ heads rolling for presiding over missing out on low hanging Champions league fruit millions simply by being criminally underprepared for a qualifying group every year, and instead having to sell the family silver every summer to make up for it? Surely a New Year review would look into who in the organisation had presided over all of that.

And even if that wasn’t enough, how about now? How about when last season’s debacle is now seeping into this one and a compliant media and one other are being encouraged to give a version of events that hints Dom McKay was out his depth, how about some responsibility for those who made that decision in the first place, those on that interview panel, those who carried out the due diligence, the ones who stuck their head above the parapet and said Dom’s the man? Nothing so far on that front either.

Photo: Jeff Holmes

It’s enough to make you think the Celtic Board were all too busy with more pressing business concerns elsewhere during a pandemic than giving any real focus to their role at a club that was going off the rails. Now perhaps it’s about time we had some personal responsibility. What other organisation could punt a CEO after 72 days and none of those in the selection process follow suit? What other organisation would be happy to have board members who did not offer to step down after a series of overseen disasters?

On the pitch Ange Postecoglou is performing miracles in navigating his ship. Almost an entire crew has been replaced and performances if not results have bought his respect and time from the support – and at the moment he is buying this board time too.

Because despite the efforts of the captain this ship is effectively rudderless and now in exactly the same position it was last season, and no matter how good Ange Postecoglou is he cannot go this alone. He will need help with support staff of his own, analysts of his own, and eventually coaching staff of his own, and he’ll someone beside him to assist in the next transfer window, because this job is not done.

Celtic Park Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou arriving before the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park. Photo Jeff Holmes

A foundation of a squad has been laid but one look to the bench on Saturday showed just how much still needs to be done and to add that. To approach the next transfer window some form of structure simply has to be in place. Rumours of too many cooks spoiling the broth, unnecessary delays in returning correspondence and our own scouting staff not being aware of who to speak to and when cannot go on for another window.

Meanwhile all we’ve had to date is a Board who continue to preside over one mess after another and offer no personal or collective responsibility for any of it. There is no structure, there is no plan, they are about as real as the fabled New Year review. And we’re expected to believe this lot had a look and decided Dom McKay wasn’t fit for purpose and have suddenly got all pro-active. Do me a favour.

If Dom McKay today is still hiding under the duvet, or if he’s taking his good lady out in his yacht, he should at least console himself with one thing, no matter how stormy the waters out there he’s better off there than navigating the shark infested seas of the Celtic Boardroom.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.


  1. Hit the nail on the head Niall. This board has a penchant for making our great club look amateurish