Fergal Harkin already has a number of interesting links to senior Celtic figures

By John McGinley

February 8, 2021

Fergal Harkin may not have been a name known to most Celtic supporters prior to reports he could become our Director of Football.

However, it’s likely that plenty of senior figures are already aware of and have a relationship with the Manchester City man.

Journalist Alan Nixon at The Sun reported over the weekend that he was the name being mentioned inside Celtic Park for a newly created Director of Football or Sporting Director role.

Currently the Football Partnerships and Pathways Manager and Manchester City, Harkin is seen as a viable candidate to oversee football operations at the club under incoming CEO Dominic McKay.

Given his experience and knowledge at an elite level, it’s an exciting development and could help usher in a new, successful era at Celtic Park.

The Lennon link

Neil Lennon may be a happy man too, considering his personal history with Harkin. The Celtic manager actually played with Harkin at Leicester City during the 1990s.

Lennon was a regular in the Foxes first-team at the time, while Harkin did not quite manage to make a breakthrough.

Harkin did learn a lot off of his teammate, former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill and former Celtic player Steve Guppy though.

The Man City man told the42.ie in 2019: “You had players that were playing in the [1998] World Cup, the likes of Matty Elliott who went to the World Cup with Scotland. Neil Lennon was playing, Muzzy Izzet, [Emile] Heskey. Kasey Keller, the goalkeeper that went to the World Cup with America. Steve Guppy.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during his Leicester days / (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT)

“There was quality right throughout the team. It was the year that Leicester won the League Cup and we played Atletico Madrid in the Uefa Cup. So it was a brilliant period, and I learned loads.

“I think you learn from what to do and what not to do. Look, if I had to pick one player out, it would probably be Steve Guppy. He came into the game late but his commitment and his dedication and his will to try and be better was unbelievable. He used to stay back most afternoons, do extra training — and he was a first-team player. I learned loads from him.”

More Celtic links

Even beyond his playing career, the links to Celtic follow. Harkin would eventually end up working for Nike, first as a Key Account Executive, then as Ireland Sales Manager and ultimately as a Football Marketing Manager.

This was in a period between 2003 and 2009, when Celtic staff and executives at the club would have worked closely with Nike on a bumper kit deal.

Celtic’s relationship with Nike started in 2004 [Campaign] and was renewed in 2009 for a further five years, bringing in millions to the club.

Harkin was obviously valued at the sportswear giant, following Brian Marwood to Manchester City shortly afterwards.

Celtic had a strong relationship with Nike in the 00s / (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

It’s at City another Celtic link comes. Not only have the Bhoys enjoyed the benefits of a number of player deals there over the years, Harkin works with the son of none other than Peter Lawwell.

Mark Lawwell has been employed as a Scouting and Recruitment Manager at the City Football Group since 2012.

So all this is to say that it’d be a very understandable future relationship between the Bhoys and the Donegal man, beyond his Irish heritage.

It’s clear why Celtic would be more than aware of the skills Harkin has and what he can bring to the club, if he is indeed appointed as Director of Football.

It’s set to be a very interesting few months at Celtic Park.

In other news, Neil Lennon needs to start trusting David Turnbull more.