What Celtic rebuild could mean for a key staff role

By Euan Davidson

June 9, 2021

Remember when Nick Hammond left Celtic?

Hammond, who always reminded me of Parsley from a very old children’s TV programme called The Herbs, was much-maligned at Celtic. Whether fairly or otherwise, many of the failures of this season were put squarely on the former Reading director. His legacy, much like Neil Lennon’s second spell, won’t be remembered all that fondly.

Admittedly, you can do as much scouting and research into a player as you like, but nothing’s a guarantee. The fact that Hammond’s signings didn’t work out at Celtic is as much a function of tactics as it is scouting, and a whole other list of variables. But the fact is, Hammond became a convenient scapegoat. As ‘Head of Football Operations’, though, did we ever really understand the former West Brom man’s job role?

Unless there’s a gargantuan leak of info sometime soon, we’re unlikely to ever understand what Hammond’s remit was, entirely. Using a ‘Football Operations Manager’ job description from Manchester City, tasks include event management, meeting with UEFA officials, planning tours and making sure matches go as smoothly as possible. From an organisational stand point, anyway.

But what does any of that have to do with scouting? Or recruitment? It’s hard to know. Yet Hammond, as discussed, was blamed for much of what went wrong at Celtic in 20-21.

So, what now? And where would Hammond’s ambiguous job title fit under a Director of Football?

Nick Hammond at a Celtic match / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

We need more clarity on job roles at Celtic, lest the wrong people bear the brunt of criticism

Relatively recently, John Murtough got a promotion at Manchester United. Murtough, who has worked behind the scenes at Old Trafford for nearly a decade, moved into a Football Director role which encompasses “overall responsibility for all football matters” [Guardian].

At the same time, Darren Fletcher was appointed as Technical Director. The latter sounds more akin to what Hammond’s role would likely have entailed. Dan Ashworth, a TD at both Brighton and the English FA, described the job this way [Training Ground Guru]:

“A Technical Director’s role is always best described as looking after the interests of the club in the medium to long term. There are six things that come into me – men’s first team, women’s first team, player recruitment, the Academy, medical and sports science, and the player loan department.”

So far, so confusing. The popularity of corporate speak in football makes it hard to know exactly what each member of a club’s staff actually does. But what seems consistent, at least with big clubs, is the presence of both a Director of Football and a Technical Director. Moreover, a Technical Director and a ‘Head of Football Operations’ sound like the same thing.

With this in mind: would Nick Hammond be replaced with someone in exactly the same role? It seems unlikely. With Peter Lawwell’s influence all but gone at this stage, the structure will surely change. Ideally, you’d have a Director of Football reporting to Dominic McKay.

There are shockingly few images of Dominic McKay / (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

How a new structure might look

The Director would be in charge of hiring key staff, introducing a culture and style of play, and assisting the team beneath him to carry that style out. To do the nuts and bolts, if you like, you’d have a Technical Director, and a Head of Scouting.

For recruitment purposes, the Head Scout would identify players based on a mandate from the Director of Football. The negotiations would be carried out by the DoF and the Technical Director.

Does this make any kind of sense? So, what we’re saying is that Hammond’s old job title would surely change. The bureaucratic elements of running a football club would fall under the next Nick Hammond’s remit. That’s surely the idea, anyway.

It’s as clear as mud just now, though. And while we don’t necessarily need daily updates on who’s doing what at Celtic, some kind of demonstration of how the club wants to work would be useful. In any case, it’s the end of the era of Lawwell running everything.

And that’s something.

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