The Mark Lawwell impact on Celtic this summer; what we know and don't know

By John McGinley

June 9, 2022

The announcement last month that Mark Lawwell would be taking up a senior recruitment position at Celtic took plenty of people by surprise, even if it didn’t particularly come as a shock.

Having such close ties to former Chief Executive Peter Lawwell and having spent so long at one of the world’s prominent football organisations, the City Group, it seemed inevitable his path would cross with the Bhoys on a formal basis at some point.

That it comes this summer is undoubtedly a boost for manager Ange Postecoglou, whose own entrance to Celtic was helped in part by Lawwell’s knowledge of him.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Mark Lawwell presence at Celtic is an immediate upgrade

When considering what kind of impact Lawwell might have at Celtic, with the official title Head of First Team Scouting and Recruitment, it’s important to understand the landscape before he arrived and, to be honest, it wasn’t a great one for the club.

There were multiple reports last summer of a kind of semi-organised chaos at Celtic when it came to negotiations for players and even discussions about player departures.

We didn’t really have a point man and it’s been said multiple senior people at the Bhoys, above Postecoglou, ended up involved in transfer work. All hands on deck.

Through sheer will, and perhaps the persuasive power of the manager, it somehow came together and a title-winning squad was created.

However, it was never a viable situation in the long-term, so the fact that Celtic have made this appointment is positive almost by default. We have someone there to take control of the situation and, ultimately, responsibility.

Yet, Lawwell does also come with contacts and experience.

City Group responsibilities

It’s not as easy as saying that because he was at the City Group he is tooled up to deliver the kind of elite prospects destined for Manchester City, but nonetheless, he looks a good fit for Celtic.

Our friend @WuAnalysis pointed out on social media this week that Lawwell’s most recent role was primarily focused on first-team recruitment at New York City, Melbourne City, Mumbai City, Sichuan and Yokohama.

Not only does that require a knowledge of different, emerging football markets across the world, but also indicates he hasn’t just been focused on a junior and academy level. He’s not been given the keys to the castle without good reason.

Crucially, he will also have a lot of trust from the Celtic board given his family ties. It’s perhaps a level of inherent trust beyond what figures such as Lee Congerton and Nick Hammond have had in recent years.

When it comes to this summer, expectations will be high. But just as it is unfair to judge a player on their first couple of months at the club, the same applies to someone like Lawwell. He has to be judged on what he brings to Celtic over a long period, not just in one transfer window.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In fact, it’s unclear what his start date is with Celtic only saying he would “join the Club in readiness for the summer transfer window”, while outlets such as The Daily Record have suggested he doesn’t officially make the move until next month.

No doubt work is underway, I’m not suggesting otherwise, but it is important to keep in mind this is a developing relationship, not one that will necessarily deliver instant results.

The majority of players Celtic sign this summer, with the window opening tomorrow, will likely have been identified and scouted long before Lawwell’s arrival.

Anyone drawing firm conclusions about Lawwell at this stage is someone I would consider ‘at it’.

Nonetheless, we can still expect a fairly busy transfer window that at least won’t have the panicky flavour of this time last year. For now, that’s something we can consider a positive.

In other news, Rangers will have to do more than stand still to catch Celtic next season.