Huge Celtic announcement leaves Peter Lawwell with massive decisions to make

By Euan Davidson

April 6, 2021

So, nothing has changed and much has changed simultaneously – Peter Lawwell will remain as CEO until the summer.

With Dominic McKay coming in on the 19th of April to help smooth the transition, it leaves Lawwell in an interesting spot. Of course, the board decides on the big stuff as a collective. The CEO, though, will want to leave a massive imprint on the club’s future, despite his absence from the top table after this summer.

In a statement issued this morning, the club announced:

“Peter Lawwell continues in his role as Chief Executive Officer and board member until June 30. Dom will join the Club from April 19, working with Peter and the Executive team to ensure a smooth transition, until Dom takes on the role of Chief Executive Officer and board member on July 1.”

Does this mean that Lawwell’s immediate influence has waned, or strengthened? Honestly, unless you happen to a board member, it’s impossible to know.

One thing’s for sure: he’ll want to leave Celtic supporters with something to remember him by. If he’s still baffled by the criticism coming his way, then that’s a worry. As ungrateful as it might seem, given his enormous trophy haul, the club have been horrendously mismanaged this year. There were avoidable catastrophes aplenty, and so many in the support have been wary of a season like this for a long time.

So, being part of the team that brought us a highly-respected and reputable manager will be in his interests. He’ll admit he’s not got everything right during his tenure at CEO. His football decisions, in broad strokes, can be defended. But there have been bumps along the way, and in football, you’re only as good as your last result.

It’s a gamble on his part, but if he helps to bring Eddie Howe to Celtic, then that’s a result indeed.

Peter Lawwell, outgoing Celtic CEO / (Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images)

As Peter Lawwell contemplates retirement, his Celtic legacy still hangs in the balance

There are two prevailing schools of thought around Peter Lawwell. One is the widely-held view that he was an integral part of the mid-00s boom era for Celtic. The club’s commercial interests grew exponentially, the club were regularly winning silverware and, perhaps most crucially of all, competing in Europe.

That progress was built upon the following decade; Lawwell and the board made the most of Rangers’ demise and stood on the precipice of unrivalled success, in domestic terms at least.

The club has become a bigger deal during his tenure as CEO, many argue. The stadium and training facilities are top-notch, we’re able to recruit decent players and the financial records are pretty healthy, all things considered.

There’s a less-widespread but equally valid argument made about Lawwell, though. For many, his tenure saw the club lose its identity, becoming a worldwide corporate entity but letting go of some its soul. With Desmond and Lawwell in place, supporters’ influence on goings-on at the club waned to the point of insignificance. Some argue that the dream of the McCann era, of fans running the club, became an impossibility.

There’s validity in either view.

For what it’s worth now, though, Lawwell has some big decisions to make. He’s entitled to puff up his chest, point to the trophy cabinet and say “my work’s done”. Or, he can be intimately involved in the next chapter of the club, from a footballing perspective and a business one.

He’s had fun, no doubt / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Giving back to the fans

It’s very, very interesting to see what Lawwell will do with his shares. Likely, he’ll hold on to them, and have significant voting rights in the future.

But what if the right offer came in for at least a portion of his shares? The Celtic Trust, Celtic Shared and others will be eyeing this situation with a fair amount of detail. It’d be surprising if Lawwell was to decide to sell his shares to fans directly, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Equally, will Lawwell aim to improve communications with supporters in the winter of his tenure? If there’s more involvement with fan media, for one thing, that’d massively help. If the burden of info can be lifted from the SLO’s shoulders a little, that’d be good, too. John Paul Taylor does the work of several people as the Supporter’s Liaison Officer. A bigger team or a different approach would be useful, going forward.

There’s a lot on Lawwell’s plate. Again, he could just point at the accolades and ride off into the sunset. On balance, he’s earned that right.

Legacies last a long, long time at Celtic, though. If Lawwell wants to be recalled as fondly as even Fergus McCann, then his last couple of months in place are vital.

What an interesting time to be a Celtic supporter.

READ MORE: Former Celtic manager opens up on shock exit, and it’s not going to make any supporters happy.