Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell has one last job: replacing Neil Lennon

By Euan Davidson

January 30, 2021

Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell has announced his impending retirement. The 17-year boardroom veteran is being replaced by SRU man Dominic McKay in the summer.

That’s the latest, in case you were away from any and all news outlets yesterday. If that’s the case, welcome back to civilisation. There’s a game on today as well, just so you’re completely up-to-date.

Lawwell’s legacy is divisive. To many, he’s the man who helped secure a quadruple-treble and 9IAR, building Celtic into an international brand. Others, however, see him a dinosaur in footballing terms. A profligate penny-pincher who stopped Celtic progressing in Europe, and surrendered the 10.

Despite his eventual retirement [Celtic FC], there is one massive job left on his hands. Neil Lennon needs replaced after the club’s meek title defence. We’re currently 23 points worse off than our fierce rivals south of the Clyde, and it’s not even February yet.

To say there have been failures this season is an understatement. Lawwell wouldn’t have wanted to leave the club like this. Regardless of your opinion of Lawwell, there’s no doubt he’s been successful. Departing out the back door with a whimper isn’t really his style.

Therefore, there’s one big call for him to make. He needs to go big, since he has nothing to lose. To leave the Neil Lennon decision up to McKay would be negligence. That’s not a criticism of McKay, who’s been a success in Scottish rugby. It’s just that Lennon is Lawwell’s man, and it’s his job to find his successor.

Celtic board members Lawwell (L) and Bankier (R) unveiling Brendan Rodgers / (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell needs a big name

If Lawwell is concerned about his reputation with supporters, then he’s got to act. Celtic have been linked with Rafa Benitez and Eddie Howe, and it’s Premier League quality that the fans are crying out for. Lawwell managed to convince Brendan Rodgers to rebuild his career in the east end of Glasgow; repeating the trick is vital.

If Lawwell is met at the exit door by an incoming manager like Jack Ross, Alex Neil or – worst case scenario – Neil Lennon clutching a new contract, he’s unlikely to be welcome back at Celtic Park. He’s already unpopular with sections of the support, who feel he’s wasted the Bhoys’ advantageous position over the last decade.

As a Celtic supporter himself, Lawwell would dearly want to be looked upon kindly by history. I’ve no doubt of that. To his mind, he may perceive himself as a popular figure. He has, after all, been involved in an incredibly prosperous period in Celtic history.

The reality is, though, that Celtic supporters care most about the now. Acknowledgement of history is all well and good, but if the club aren’t using their resources to dominate in the here and now, then it’s for little. For a huge number, anyone associated with blowing the 10 needs to be out the door pronto. Lawwell, regardless of his successes, is a name included in that.

So, Lawwell has to go big before he goes home. If, that is, he wants to placate large sections of the support and put the club in a position to succeed under McKay. For all his faults, I truly believe he wants to put Celtic back in the driver’s seat domestically.

So, now’s his chance. Think big, and be ruthless.

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