Incoming Celtic CEO Dominic McKay has big furore to handle before taking next job

By Euan Davidson

February 7, 2021

Incoming Celtic CEO Dominic McKay has made great strides in his role at Scottish Rugby.

During his time, the SRU has gone from a cash-strapped organisation to a prospering outfit. Only yesterday, they beat England in the Six Nations [Guardian].

His work at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh’s professional rugby union side has also won plaudits. McKay has brought Scottish Rugby Union into this century. Encouragingly, he’s focussed on player recruitment and improving professional standards at both club and country.

Before he can make his mark at Celtic, however, he has a scandal to negotiate. Only 4 of Scotland’s starting line-up at Twickenham yesterday took the knee before kick-off [Daily Record]. Inevitably, it’s caused outrage, and the PR-focussed Chief Operating Officer will have a busy few days sorting this out.

“Taking the knee” has become customary in sport over the last year. Popularised by NFL star Colin Kaepernick, it’s a simple gesture of unity with marginalised communities suffering from oppression. The Black Lives Matter movement has dominated political discourse over the last decade, especially since the horrific killing of George Floyd in the USA sparked international protest.

It would’ve cost absolutely nothing for the Scottish Rugby team to use their platform to help to highlight their support. Most of the team didn’t, and now McKay has a mess on his hands.

Celtic have shown clear support for Black Lives Matter / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

How incoming Celtic CEO Dominic McKay handles this will interest Bhoys supporters

There are many who don’t like to mix politics and football. Ultimately, though, for Celtic fans those two vast subjects are inextricably linked. Every week, or twice a week in normal times, the Hoops faithful sing songs about famine, oppression and civil rights.

So if future Celtic CEO Dominic McKay wants to win over Celtic supporters, a strong stance here would help.

McKay’s PR background might have prepared him for incidents like these. Inevitably, with any large organisation, there will be the odd furore. This, though, this is important stuff. It’s human stuff. He’s got to get it right.

It shouldn’t be a debate: Black Lives Matter. To refuse to take the knee and acknowledge that fact, when the world is watching, is inexcusable. The message has to be clear to the Scottish Rugby team, and from the Scottish Rugby team.

For large swathes of the Celtic fanbase, being actively political is a part of supporting the club. For something like this, an issue that should be non-partisan, many fans would be horrified if Celtic didn’t speak up for marginalised groups. If Celtic didn’t take the knee before matches, serious questions would be asked.

So, before McKay walks through the door at Celtic Park, he’s got to be strong on this issue. Yesterday, an organisation that McKay is instrumental in, should’ve won universal acclaim for their win over England. Instead, the headlines are about a failed opportunity to perform such a basic act of solidarity.

The next moves are down to him.

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