WHO is running Celtic? A straightforward query, one would think. The departure of Dominic McKay as CEO last week after just 72 days in the job has muddied those waters, but it was a question that was being posed throughout the summer too.

It was put forward by agents, for instance, who weren’t always clear on who they should speak to at the club regarding their players. It was asked by fans, many of whom were craving a modernisation of Celtic’s structure long before Peter Lawwell finally announced he was stepping down midway through last season.

With McKay’s exit, all talk of a new hierarchy with a Director of Football in place has now been placed on the backburner, and indeed, the push for such a figure to be brought into the club may have played a part in McKay’s hasty departure. Because for all that McKay was keen to be viewed as the figurehead of Celtic’s transformation into a big football club with a structure fit for the 21st century, it appears that the friction he caused by trying to drive these changes was ultimately what proved his downfall.

Inevitably, fans will see the exit of McKay as the handiwork of his predecessor, and there is no doubting the influence that Lawwell still has at the club and on the board. But if McKay’s plan didn’t chime with the rest of the board, then what is the alternative?

No one knows yet. Michael Nicholson, who is McKay’s temporary replacement, is close to Lawwell. If he were to land the job on a permanent basis, would the Celtic support be willing to accept the club being run in an almost Lawwell-lite fashion? Or to take it one step further, would they accept the return of Lawwell perhaps as chairman, a role that is rumoured to be piquing his interest?

Whatever your views on the former chief executive, if a club the size of Celtic cannot be run without an omnipotent presence with a finger in every pie, then it is an organisation that needs a rethink.

Ange Postecoglou, as a charismatic and popular manager, has taken some of the heat off the Celtic board with his comments at the weekend, casting doubt on the narrative that McKay brought him to the club. But just because Postecoglou is content to work with Nicholson and the remaining board members doesn’t mean he will settle for working within the current outdated structure for too long.

He has spoken in the past about the need for bringing certain areas of the club up to scratch. He has no head of recruitment, with Nicky Hammond’s vacant position yet to be filled, and no head of sport science since the departure of Jack Nayler in the summer.

Were there a sporting director in place, much of the minutiae could be removed from Postecoglou’s day-to-day routine, allowing him to focus on putting an attractive and successful team on the pitch. But from the very early days when the Celtic board were at last said to be slowly warming to the idea of bringing in such a figure, they have gone about it in back-to-front fashion.

During the ultimately doomed pursuit of Eddie Howe, it was made clear to the Englishman that he would be given carte blanche to bring in his own backroom team. Nothing unusual there. But that was to include bringing his friend Richard Hughes with him as sporting director.

One of the main points of having such a figure in place is to ensure the long-term direction of the club is not affected by the transient nature of football personnel. If Howe and Hughes came as a team, they would eventually leave as one too, leaving Celtic to start from scratch once more.

An argument I often hear is that fans don’t care about what is going on in the boardroom as long as they have a winning team on the pitch. That there were no grumbles about Lawwell when the team was winning nine titles in a row or racking up a quadruple treble, for instance. I’m not so sure that’s the case.

There is a feeling among the support that Celtic should be striving to be more than what they are. And that domestic success isn’t really what a club of such size should be using as a barometer of their standing in any case.

Many of them had bought into the promise of a bold new future as laid out by McKay, and if the board desire the backing of the fans now, they need to outline a fresh path forward that everyone at the club can get behind.

There were obviously doubts in the boardroom over McKay’s ability to deliver on his vision of the modern Celtic, but now the board – and Nicholson if he is to be the man to fill McKay’s shoes – must present their own alternative way forward.

Otherwise, Celtic will continue to be viewed as a club stuck in the past off the pitch, which will ultimately hamstring Postecoglou as he tries to deliver a brighter future on it.