Acting CEO thanks Lennon, Lawwell and more in opening message to Celtic fans

By Euan Davidson

September 21, 2021

Acting Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson has made some interesting comments in his first correspondence to Hoops fans.

Following the release of Celtic plc’s annual results, Nicholson, who stepped in after the shock departure of Dom McKay, made sure to thank some prominent names.

He also touched on the failures of last season’s transfer window, while congratulating the Women’s team. Nicholson celebrated the Adidas deal – with record merchandise sales – and also heralded the support.

However, he also directly addressed the disappointments of last season, with some interesting language.

In his message to supporters, Nicholson said [Celtic FC]:

“We acquired the registrations of Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and David Turnbull, retained Mohamed Elyounoussi on loan and brought in experienced internationals Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt on loan. For a combination of reasons it did not work out for us.

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“In February, Neil Lennon decided to step down as football manager. Assistant manager John Kennedy stepped up to take the team to the end of the season.

“Our Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell, who had decided to retire during the season under review, stood down on 30th June 2021 after 17 successful years at the Club.

“I would like to thank both Neil and Peter sincerely for their leadership, commitment and unflinching support they have given the Club, through thick and thin.

“[I] make special mention of our outgoing captain, Scott Brown, who spent 16 years at Celtic amassing ten Scottish championships, five Scottish Cups, and six Scottish League Cups.

“I thank Scott for his immense contribution to Celtic and I wish our new captain, Calum McGregor, and all of our new players success in their roles going forward under our new manager.”

Is acting Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson making long-term job pitch?

This is the first time we’ve heard from acting Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson. He’s not said anything controversial or unexpected here, but his tone is quite interesting.

He seems personally frustrated by the lack of success on the pitch last season. Particularly, his comments about signings “not working out” seems laced with disappointment.

Of course, he’s going to thank Lennon, Lawwell and Brown for their service. But he also sounds determined to ingratiate himself with the incumbents at the club, and recognise the investment made by the board over the summer.

OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Also, he’s gone for the “best supporters in world football” line, which is a must for anyone with CEO aspirations. Thanking the supporters for continued season ticket sales, and the staff at the club for helping to facilitate that during Covid, is the kind of polished move you’d expect from someone with Nicholson’s CV.

If this is a pitch to the Celtic board, it strikes the right tones. Lauding the board? Done. Highlighting commercial success in a difficult period? Done. Thanking the staff, the fans, and giving a nod to key departing figures? All done and done.

For a first correspondence, one he’s been thrown into last-minute, it’s the kind of thing that’ll keep his employers happy. What the fans will make of it isn’t quite clear yet.

In other news: Celtic hero Stiliyan Petrov insists Ange Postecoglou is up for challenge