The shock parting with McKay – replacement for Peter Lawwell, who had been in situ for 17 years – was announced by Celtic on Friday evening in a statement to the stock exchange that referred to “personal reasons”. In it, it was revealed director Michael Nicolson, previously in charge of legal and football affairs, had stepped into the breach created to serve as acting chief executive.
It is understood that the “personal reasons” centre on a lack of conviction from the Celtic board that McKay, who left his role as chief operating officer at the Scottish Rugby Union to take on his now vacated post, was the right fit for the club.
Across the transfer window – which resulted in 12 players being recruited and £30 million being drawn in from the sales of wantaway trio Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie – it is believed there was disquiet over a passive approach to transfer negotiations as the season began under new manager Ange Postecoglou. In the aftermath of the Champions League qualifying elimination in Midtjylland in late July, the Australian coach hinted at issues over the pace of recruitment to bolster a depleted squad when he stated: “We haven't got players in, I obviously haven't done a good enough job convincing people we needed to bring people in … I’ve been trying to be as forceful as I can about what we need to bring in”.
Celtic are believed to feel the problems over McKay’s assimilation into the football world made it necessary to make a clean break with the former Celtic season book holder at the earliest opportune moment, the end of the window regarded as affording that. McKay’s undoubted success in re-engaging a disillusioned support by opening lines of communication with bloggers and fans’ group, and his oft-pushed modernisation mantra for the club’s structures, would appear not to have cut through with his paymasters.
Certainly, it seems appreciated McKay was not solely at fault for the summer difficulties, though, and that, just as the squad has been comprehensively overhauled, so similar remedial work must be initiated with a board that has changed little in composition over recent years.
In a statement on Celtic’s website, chairman Ian Bankier wrote: “We thank Dom for his efforts on behalf of the Club and everyone wishes Dom and his family very well for the future.
"Michael is an absolute team player and he will lead an experienced and talented team of executives and colleagues at Celtic.
“Everyone at Celtic will of course work collectively and focus strongly on ensuring we continue to drive the club forward in every area, on and off the field.
“The Board, Ange, our management team and all our staff will continue to work together with the ultimate objective, as always, of delivering success for our supporters.”
For his part, McKay said: “I’d like to thank the board and everyone at Celtic for their support and wish everyone at Celtic every success for the future.”
Meanwhile, claims awash on cyberspace across Friday evening that out-going Peter Lawwell had a part to play in McKay’s rapid downfall are considered to be a complete red herring, and wishful thinking on the part of what has developed into a rabid anti-Lawwell faction among the club’s fanbase.