Exclusive: Jackie McNamara calls for big changes at Celtic; reflects on Peter Lawwell

By Euan Davidson

February 4, 2021

Celtic legend Jackie McNamara left the club shortly after the Peter Lawwell era began.

Regrettably, under new manager Gordon Strachan, the versatile defender didn’t have his contract renewed. McNamara subsequently left for Wolves, with whom he made the Championship play-offs in 06-07. Celtic, meanwhile, were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Artmedia Bratislava [BBC].

So, it’s fair to say one of Lawwell’s first moves was ill-advised. However, McNamara holds no ill will towards the outgoing CEO of Celtic Football Club.

Former Celtic man Jackie McNamara told 67 Hail Hail:

“He came in 2003, I didn’t have a lot of dealings with him. Apart from when my contract expired and Gordon came in, which wasn’t great.

“I’ve got respect for him, he’s done a lot of great things.”

A Peter Lawwell ‘wanted’ poster, during the Celtic Trust’s December protest / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

New ideas, new results

McNamara insisted, however, that Lawwell’s departure should usher in improved transparency and accountability at the club. The 33-time Scotland international [SFA] has his own ideas about restructuring at Celtic, which will have fans nodding assertively.

“Obviously you’ve got Nicky Hammond and the manager, but I think when we spoke earlier on I had a wee rant about people who should be accountable. Neil talked about fitness, sports scientists. I think there should be somebody in place between Neil and Peter.

“When something goes wrong just now, we blame two people. It’s either Peter or Neil Lennon’s fault. There’s a lot more people behind the scenes you don’t see who should be accountable. If you talk about [players] not being fit enough or they don’t want to be at the club, I think there should be an infrastructure in place with a Sporting Director, Director of Football, so people can look after those departments.

“What’s happening with the academy as well? Peter Lawwell can’t be in control of everything. There’s too much to do, too much going on. It’s a lot of stuff to deal with, that should be delegated to other people. So everybody else around the club is accountable, and they have to be performing at the highest level.

“That’s something that’s maybe missing.”

No ifs, ands or Nicky Butts: Jackie Mac handling Man United / (Photo by Gary M Prior /Allsport)

Former Celtic man Jackie McNamara believes change is needed ASAP; should follow a European model

Asked whether a Sporting Director/Director of Football should be brought in before Dominic McKay and any potential new manager arrives, McNamara told us:

“Yeah absolutely, because the Sporting Director is then accountable for bringing the manager in, and the reasons for that. Again, that sets the whole thing moving in the right direction. Same with the recruitment, all the people looking at players; what’s the recruitment strategy? With the academy, are they coming through at the right time? Are enough questions being asked about the coaching?

“I believe Celtic should [find] another club in Europe or outwith, to farm out your young players to go and get experience. Farm out young coaches to go and get experience, to see if they could handle that. That’s something that should’ve been done, and still that can be done.

“There’s talk about Colts, playing in the lower league. Which is fine, most of the kids from Celtic go out on loan and get that experience. But if you do that with a club outwith Scotland, it’s a chance to let the kids play and get that experience, and see if they can handle that. And coaches, see if they can handle that step up.”

“For me, [a director] would need to be coming in now. The players are already in place [for Champions League qualifiers], now we need to see about the management side.

“There’s too many things that now need resolved. If McKay comes in July, they won’t be resolved until the following year.”