The stink around Celtic continues to grow.
No sooner had the ink on Dominic McKay’s non-disclosure agreement dried but the board was taking advantage of his inability to speak up by briefing against him in the press. It is lamentably unprofessional, and this is why the Nicholson coronation I predicted last night is a certainty.
Nobody credible is going to come near this place with these disaster artists in charge.
A third-rate internal appointment is the best we’re going to get whilst certain people hang around our club and stink it out with their presence.
This is a grim moment. It could be a seminal moment.
It has to be. It’s also a dark moment.
The cover story didn’t even last a night. It was never going to.
There was virtually no chance that McKay was stepping back because he’s stressed or he’s facing difficulties in his life which aren’t directly related to the job.
Barry Ferguson had already jumped in to the deeply stupid end of the pool with his suggestion that this was maybe down to the pressure and the scrutiny being a bit much.
If Dominic McKay had resigned for those reasons, then there goes the career he’s spent years building.
I’ve written much the same about Eddie Howe; he’s seriously damaged himself with the way he handled the whole Celtic thing.
Once that idea is out there – that you can’t handle real pressure – it’s over.
A man like McKay, I would have found that hard to believe.
He’s worked in high-stress and high pressure environments.
He’s done complicated work, in light of media attention.
The CEO’s job at Celtic really isn’t anything special in that regard; the CEO of a major airline or a tech company or a local authority or public organisation is under vastly more scrutiny than Lawwell ever was or McKay would ever have been.
Celtic’s statement was deliberately vague.
No organisation would have left it so vague if there was any other option.
It’s the standard “holding statement” which everybody hopes will be overtaken by events.
If this was a health issue the statement would have said that. If this was a family issue the statement would have said that.
Those words would have been followed up with a request for privacy and the show would have moved on.
There would have been no speculation, and no uncertainty.
McKay has removed his time at Celtic from his LinkedIn profile.
He’s deleted his Twitter account entirely.
None of this suggested issues unrelated to the job.
That left us with one of two central possibilities; McKay had resigned for conflict reasons or he had been dumped.
It goes without saying that none of those are particularly pleasant outcomes.
It should also stand to reason that neither would paint our leaders in a particularly good light.
If McKay had resigned because of internal conflicts it is damning of our club that nobody was able to step forward and adjudicate whatever the issues were or find a way to work within or around them.
It is not, alas, unusual for our club to be rocked by internal issues.
It is scandalous that when these sort of issues arise machismo and ego get in the way of fixing them.
The Celtic statement very deliberately highlighted Nicholson as an “absolute team player”.
Now you don’t need a degree in media (and I have one) to know that this is a provocative and inflammatory statement because it suggests that perhaps McKay was not.
The briefings to the press don’t say it, but they didn’t have to.
Celtic had already done it; Dominic McKay didn’t play well with others.
Funny, because one of the things that’s obvious about McKay is that he is a bridge-builder.
It was his decision to finally open a proper dialogue with the bloggers.
He spearheaded that project personally.
So the statement about Nicholson being a team player was an obvious slap at McKay, in the club’s official statement.
You could still say that I’m reading too much into that, but of course I’m not because any person with the slightest experience in PR or politics would have been able to tell whomever crafted that statement that those words virtually jump off the page at you.
We are either to assume that Celtic’s PR department is utterly incompetent to a quite staggering degree – and I find that very hard to imagine – or those words mean exactly what they sound like. Which is a public slap at the guy who’s left the building.
The press coverage this morning makes it clear that it was precisely that.
And there I thought only Ibrox did things so scandalously unprofessional.
If this was about differences of opinion on strategy than whether he resigned or was fired, it’s shocking because that’s all stuff that the board should have been well aware before they hired him.
You don’t appoint a CEO without knowing his agenda and his plan.
He’s the lead guy, at the top of the house, and if he’s not trusted to run his own show he shouldn’t be in the building.
So who do you blame for that?
The board itself, because the guy wouldn’t have hidden his intentions and he wouldn’t have been approached had there been the slightest doubts about his ability to carry through on a plan of reform.
The press briefings claim that he didn’t impress people.
In three months?
From the board which hired Lennon twice, knowing every one of his faults, and then left him in the job six months longer than was rational?
Do these people think we’re complete morons or what?
How can you make a judgement on a man in a job this big, with such a mess to clean up as was bequeathed to him, in such a short space of time?
At the very least, what you have here is a momentous breakdown in communications and personal relationships and understandings … it’s disgraceful that we’ve wound up in this state.
Even in the scenario where you give the club the “benefit of the doubt”, and assume that McKay just wasn’t getting the job done, it raises questions about the judgement of those who hired him in the first place.
What were McKay’s mistakes that have cost him the gig after 72 days?
There’s a line from The Thick Of It which seems applicable in this case, although Malcolm’s example is a little more extreme than this.
He delivers it to the diabolically bad Nicola Murray, minister for social affairs and citizenship, when she worries she might be the victim of a very early sacking.
“The PM is not going to sack you after a week,” he tells her. ”Sacked after 12 months – looks like you’ve f@cked up. Sacked after a week – looks like he’s f@cked up.”
Well it’s not been a week, but it’s not been 12 months either and I wouldn’t even say we’re in a particularly grey area here.
If the board is jettisoning McKay after this short a time then their own judgement is as suspect as they appear to think his is.
And it amazes me that the men who gambled on Lennon, and failed, and then gambled on Howe and failed and have now gambled McKay and screwed that up are doing not one bit of self analysis into how the Hell we got into this state.
In any other corporate culture heads would roll at the very top of the house after a disaster like this, and this is a disaster following a disaster following a disaster, a constantly running shit-show which makes the Ibrox operation seem streamlined and efficient.
But these brazen brassnecking breathtakingly arrogant directors believe they can ride this out.
One Celtic site described the support last night as “feeling helpless.”
It’s exactly how many of us did feel; helpless and given a proper using just days after the deadline for buying Europa League tickets came and went.
Well, we’ll be in the ground and that seems as good a place as any to give full expression to our anger.
That anger is long overdue.