Date: 7th November 2019 at 10:00am
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One man who divides opinion among Celtic fans is Peter Lawwell.

Highly capable pair of hands integral to the club’s total dominance of the Scottish game? Or risk-free and unambitious operator who sums up the Hoops’ insularity?

The long-term chief executive says little and lets the manager be the public face of the club.

But the former accountant, whose association with the club began in 1990 and who has been the CEO for 16 years, has his fingerprints all over most significant off-the field developments at Celtic.

That’s been the case in the last week with a slew of new contracts handed to key stars, to prevent them being lured to suitors in the January window.

Football Insider pundit Jackie McNamara is a former Celtic captain and someone who knows well how things work at the top of his former club.

“Celtic’s transfer model is based on buying talented young players who can be developed and then sold for a big profit, and Peter is at the heart of making sure it all runs smoothly,” the ex-Scotland international explained.

“They did that with Moussa Dembele, Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama. Kieran [Tierney] went for a club-record fee although they brought him through.

“What you find is they get top dollar for their players, especially when you consider that the top clubs in Europe don’t see the Scottish Premiership as a top league.

“The key is they tie them to long-term contracts and reward them for improving. You look at James Forrest, Scott Bain and Callum [McGregor] being looked after with new deals.”

The man in overall charge of negotiating transfers and contracts at Celtic is Lawwell, although ex-West Brom director of football Nicky Hammond was appointed permanently last month to head football operations.

The 60-year-old once turned down the chance of being interviewed for the Arsenal CEO post, such is his commitment to Celtic and ensuring they remain the dominant force north of the border and continue to grow and thrive.

Celtic fans often direct their frustration at Lawwell for failing to take enough risks, or be ambitious enough on behalf of the club, in transfer windows.

They believe this is the reason for the club not building upon the Champions League progress made by ex-manager Brendan Rodgers in his first two seasons as manager.

And, as Rodgers himself admitted, why he walked out mid-season to join Leicester City to tarnish the golden legacy he had built.

“You can see why Celtic fans say that, but the club don’t have the budgets of the big English and European clubs,” McNamara added to Football Insider. “They have a self-sustainable model and aren’t going to move away from that under the current regime.

“Peter is very experienced and knows what he’s doing. The club are looking after their players and looking to keep the best ones they have got. That’s good business.

“Peter’s getting very busy, as it’s vital Celtic aren’t forced into selling their key players at low prices.”

It’s a model that Rangers are also looking to replicate, with the likes of Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and Ryan Jack all handed lucrative contract extensions this year.

Celtic’s bitter rivals have been comfortably the busier of the two Glasgow giants in recent windows as they look to claw back the massive gap opened up over the last decade.

What can we expect from the Hoops in January?

The word is that there will not be a repeat of the significant summer transfer drive, when five new full-backs were among the 11 new players brought to the club.

A Celtic source has told Football Insider that fans should expect a “couple” of senior signings, and also a number of departures.

The club’s focus ahead of the window is keeping more of their key stars, with new contracts for Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer high on the agenda.

Lawwell always looks to be one step ahead.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that the club have agreed the terms of a sensational £8million deal.