Peter Lawwell confirms Celtic exit with Scottish Rugby chief as replacement
Peter Lawwell has confirmed he will retire from his post as the club’s chief executive at the end of the season.
It is a position he has held since 2003 and he will be replaced by Scottish Rugby’s chief operating officer Dominic McKay, despite attempts from principal shareholder Dermot Desmond to convince him to stay.
Lawwell has faced severe criticism from Celtic supporters this season with the club set to fail in its pursuit of ten in a row. However, during his time at Parkhead there has been unprecedented success with 29 trophies which includes 13 league titles and a number of forays into the Champions League.
While retiring from the club, he said he will “look forward to other challenges”, noting the “pressures and demands” the role at Parkhead has.
"It has been an enormous privilege to have served the Club and our supporters for more than 17 years – a wonderful honour to have been part of an institution I have loved and supported all my life,” he told Celtic FC.
“I will always be very proud of what we have achieved together and it has been a particular privilege to be involved throughout a period in the Club's history which has brought immense domestic success - as well as so many great European nights at Celtic Park.
“Everything we have aimed for and achieved has been for everyone associated with the Club.
“Celtic's reputation is built on three pillars - success on the field of play, sound business management, and a real and sincere charitable ethos, building on the Club’s founding traditions. My objective has always been to maintain and strengthen all three in order to ensure that the Club is both successful in the short-term and in the long-term, and is handed down to future generations in the best possible condition. In every aspect of our affairs, we have strived to maintain the highest of standards."
‘Adversity, upheaval and uncertainty’
He added: “It has been a difficult year for everyone in so many ways and I just wanted to take this opportunity once again to wish our supporters well. Even in a period of such adversity, upheaval and uncertainty, which our fans have faced in their own lives and communities, so many supporters have been with us again in such huge numbers. I sincerely thank all those supporters who have stayed with us.
“Celtic will always be the biggest and the best club in Scotland and our supporters will always be everything to our success. We need our fans with us to achieve that success.”
Desmond paid tribute to Lawwell’s impact at Celtic.
He said: “When Peter told me he was considering retirement, I did my utmost, unsuccessfully, to dissuade him. Celtic Football Club owes a major debt of gratitude to Peter Lawwell, who has made a unique and transformative contribution to our Club. I have been privileged to work with many CEOs and Peter ranks up there with the best of them.
"Over the years, Peter was sought after by many English Premier League clubs, but his love and commitment to the Club and Scotland were more important to him. Since 2003, under Peter’s tutelage, Celtic has achieved incomparable domestic success and the number of trophies is unsurpassed by any other Club in Europe.”
A year in the making
Lawwell revealed that he discussed his departure with the club’s chairman Ian Bankier last year which led to the appointment of McKay as his successor.
The 61-year-old will work closely with McKay to “ensure a seamless transition”.
"I am grateful to them all for the backing I have received during the past 17 years,” he said. “I have also owed a great deal to the unstinting guidance and support from Dermot Desmond, someone who has been so fundamental to our success on and off the field. In addition, I thank our present Chairman Ian Bankier, previous Chairmen and board members I have worked with, as well as Neil Lennon and the other five football managers and their backroom teams and, of course, so many great players at Celtic Park across the years.
"I know that they will provide the same unwavering support and help to Dominic as they help to build on our past success.
“It was obvious that the Club would be facing a natural period of transition at the end of this season regardless of any outcomes. Like every Celtic supporter, I am disappointed that, so far, this season has not worked out in the way we all hoped for, despite our best efforts.
"My goal will be to work with Dominic in order to make changes as smoothly as possible and maintain a focus on continued success on the field of play.”
‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’
McKay departs Scottish Rugby after 13 years in various roles, including his current position which he took on in 2015.
He played a pivotal role in the commercial success of the organisation.
"I can honestly say I have enjoyed the best 13 years of my life at Scottish Rugby and made life-long friends across the sport and all its numerous Unions, partners, broadcasters and sponsors,” McKay said.
“It has been a huge privilege to work with such a talented and passionate group of people over this time and I’d like to pay special thanks to Mark Dodson for his support, friendship and leadership.
“Joining Celtic FC as Chief Executive is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a new challenge I am very excited about taking on later this year. I have been incredibly impressed with the vision and people within the club and I look forward to working with them.”