Why Celtic might be able to land both Eddie Howe favourite and Fergal Harkin

By Euan Davidson

April 15, 2021

The last we heard about potential Celtic Director of Football Fergal Harkin, he wanted the final say on transfers.

To anyone reading, that might be a considerable responsibility. We’re used to the idea of big-name managers who dictate transfer policy. From a supporter perspective, it’s the career of a manger that lives or dies by their signings. They’ve got to find a place for them in the squad after all.

However, it’s not worked like that at Celtic for a long time. There seems to be an unclear committee-style approach to player recruitment. Fixing that will be one of Dominic McKay’s first jobs, and it could mean a place for both Harkin and Richard Hughes, Eddie Howe’s ostensible first-choice to join him at Celtic Park.

This morning, we heard again that Howe was looking to bring Hughes with him. Collectively, we’ve had a tendency to think small, here. That, for whatever reason, the boardroom and first-team changes start and end with a manager and a Director. It’s actually more complex than that, but it doesn’t have to be, necessarily.

There are more jobs going than are discussed. Stephen McGowan of the Daily Mail said on Clyde 1 Superscoreboard:

“I think a non-negotiable point seems to be Bournemouth technical director Richard Hughes coming along as well. I don’t know he’s going to be director of football or technical director, I think he’s going to head up the player scouting operation, maybe a replacement for Nicky Hammond.

“Eddie Howe wouldn’t be appointing his own boss, he just wants someone he can trust by his side.”

Fergal Harkin has been linked with a move to Celtic / (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

Celtic’s restructuring plans are bigger than two individuals, including Eddie Howe

The easy narrative is that Eddie Howe and Celtic are at odds over Richard Hughes, and the Director of Football job. It just doesn’t necessarily stand up to any scrutiny.

Richard Hughes is, primarily, talented at scouting players. Since Nick Hammond left, our transfers have seemingly been handled by one of Peter Lawwell, John Kennedy or someone else.

So, while a Director of Football does dictate transfer policy to an extent, there are more people involved here.

Richard Hughes seems a more likely fit to replace Hammond than he does to take an entirely new role. In terms of wages, he’s unlikely to make less doing what Hammond did than as a Director at Bournemouth. There’s a potential deal here that works for everyone.

Clearly, it was too big of a job for Nick Hammond to negotiate. Whether that’s because of the structure in place, or the pressure on him to get every signing right, isn’t obvious. However, if Hughes were to replace him, working between Howe and Harkin, there might be a solution that benefits all three, as well as Celtic Football Club more generally.

So let’s relax on the “Eddie Howe wants to appoint his own boss” stuff.

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