Dominic McKay may have lasted just 72 days as chief executive of Celtic – but Hoops legend Chris Sutton believes his short spell in the role was a successful one.
The Glasgow giants were rocked by the decision of the former Scottish Rugby Union chief operating officer to step down for “personal reasons” on Friday night, in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.
Director of legal and football affairs Michael Nicholson has moved into the position on an initial temporary basis.
McKay was announced as Peter Lawwell’s successor in January before officially taking sole charge on July 1. He oversaw a hectic summer rebuild at Parkhead as 12 new additions were recruited, and the club also sold key players for significant profit in what has been widely regarded as a positive transfer window.
Former Celtic striker Sutton, who scored 63 goals in 130 appearances during his time at Parkhead, admitted in his column for the Daily Record that McKay’s short tenure should be viewed as a success.
He said: “If you look at where Celtic were at when McKay walked in the front door and where they are now, it would be difficult to argue that they are not in a better place.
“Ange Postecoglou arrived on McKay’s watch and that has to be deemed, on what we have seen so far, a highly positive move.
“There is no doubt there was a lot of work to be done and it needed done swiftly. The mood around the support base was gloomy. The team was miles behind Rangers in the final league table and cup competitions were also disappointing.
“With so many loan players disappearing and big names seeking pastures new, the word overhaul was an understatement.
“The fact things have turned so quickly point to the fact that McKay, in a short space of time, did a good job.
“Working with the manager, McKay managed to facilitate the signing of 12 players during the last transfer window and just about every base was covered.
“Certainly the key areas which desperately needed strengthening were addressed. It’s not just the volume of signings but their talent which has pleased the fans.
“In terms of sales, McKay was under pressure to get it right, but the sums obtained from the player departures were pretty impressive.
“Bagging over £30million for Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard with the pair of them into the final year of their contracts at Celtic was superb business.
“Ryan Christie had even less time to go on his deal and a more than acceptable figure was secured for his services from Bournemouth.
“All in all, when you consider the fact that all three were going to go and that Celtic have managed to replace them and make a nice chunk of money at the same time, it reads well for McKay’s tenure.
“The simply facts are that these deals were done on McKay’s watch and most Celtic fans are happy with the way the window turned out.”
However, some would argue McKay’s early exit will trigger yet more unwanted uncertainty for the Hoops who have endured a torrid 12 months both on and off the pitch.
McKay was outlined as the youthful, modern, mature replacement for his predecessor Lawwell as he set about addressing Celtic’s recent failures in his first role of working in football after 13 years with the SRU.
He arrived three months earlier than initially planned and inherited a challenging situation.
The club has failed in attempts to bring top managerial target Eddie Howe to Glasgow following a lengthy period of negotiations and McKay’ first major involvement was to appoint Postecoglou as their new manager, to the surprise of many Celtic supporters.
An early qualifying round exit to Danish side FC Midtjylland in the UEFA Champions League followed and McKay was also unable to rubber-stamp a new sporting director during his time as CEO.
Just ten weeks on from his arrival, Celtic now find themselves back at square one, in a position they would have been desperate to avoid as the search for a second chief executive in the space of a year begins.
McKay’s sudden departure has reportedly centred on a lack of conviction from the Celtic board who felt the appointment was not working as the entire set-up behind the scenes at Parkhead was once again thrown up in the air.
It has since emerged further significant board changes at the club could be in the pipeline.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his exit, former Celtic captain Paul Lambert reckons McKay’s decision to walk away will force the club to start from scratch again.
Speaking on the Go Radio Football Show, he said: “I think it’s a blow. When you have the transition of Peter leaving, you have to get somebody in there that can handle the club.
“Dominic was doing quite a good job. They have done ok in the European games, they lost the other week to Rangers, but now they are going to have to restart.
“That’s the big issues that arises from that. I met him a couple of time and thought he came across really well. He was a well-spoke guy and he had the club at heart. He wanted the club to do well.
“There is always going to be a transition period when a lot of players left, a new manager coming in and a new chief executive coming in, and Peter stepping down. They seemed to weather the storm after the shaky start they had.
“They had a lot of plaudits for the way they were playing, but if they don’t win games all the board room stuff will start to come out.”
In a statement on the club’s website, chairman Ian Bankier wrote: “We thank Dom for his efforts on behalf of the club and everyone wishes Dom very well for the future.”