WHEN Scottish Rugby were pushing for Murrayfield to become the new home of football in this country back in 2018, they embarked on something of a charm offensive to promote their bid.

As part of that process, a group of football writers was invited through to Edinburgh to play a match against their staff at the magnificent 67,144 capacity stadium.

Their thinking was it would allow us to experience first hand what a fine venue it would be for Scotland internationals and cup semi-finals and finals.

Dominic McKay, the chief operating officer who was at the forefront of their campaign, gamely swapped his suit for a strip and his brogues for boots that day and joined his colleagues in their starting line-up.

Having former Rangers and Scotland midfielder Barry Ferguson in the away team – he technically qualified as a scribe, it was felt by the selection committee, because he had a column in a tabloid newspaper – helped our cause no end.

But it is fair to say the beautiful game wasn’t really our opponents’ game. They were more full-back and fly-half than wing back and centre half. Their boys took one helluva beating.

McKay, if memory serves, was a tidy enough player himself. Not quite Franco Baresi, but by no means Rafael Scheidt either. His best efforts, though, were to no avail.

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Will his next switch from rugby to football in June, when he will replace Peter Lawwell as Celtic chief executive, go any better?

Will, as one online wag remarked after his appointment was announced to the stock exchange early on Friday morning, he be able to swap the haka for the huddle? It will be fascinating finding out.

It is a somewhat surprising move that has caused much merriment among followers the Parkhead club’s rivals and met with a decidedly lukewarm response among many of their own.

McKay may be a lifelong supporter and a season ticket holder. However, he has spent the last 13 years of his career working with “the egg chasers”. A deeply disenchanted fanbase is sceptical that he is the right individual to bring back the glory days.

Nobody could deny that Lawwell was, whatever your view of him, a heavyweight. His influence extended into the SFA and the SPFL boardrooms. His reputation as a “puppetmaster” was well deserved. He held considerable sway in the European Clubs’ Association too.

Will McKay carry the same sort of clout? The Ayrshireman, a former pupil of St Andrew’s Academy in Salcoats, is a keen sailor in his free time. As a profile in these pages at the weekend revealed, he once stated that his motto was “make a new friend every day”. He promises to be quite the departure.

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How, too, will he fare buying players, dealing with agents and negotiating contracts? A major rebuilding job will be required when he arrives. And he has no previous experience of operating in the transfer market.

Yet, Lawwell, an accountant by profession who had been employed for ICI, Clydeport and Scottish Mining among other companies before he succeeded Ian McLeod back in 2003, didn’t when he started out either.

He got far more right than wrong during his 17 year tenure. Celtic made profits as well as won trophies on his watch. Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele brought in £35m alone.

McKay will certainly be different to his predecessor. But that is no bad thing. In fact, it will be a big positive. Change, as anybody who has seen Celtic in action in the last few months, is needed at every level at Parkhead after an unprecedented period of success.

The 42-year-old will bring alternative ideas, a new management style, a wide range of strengths and youthful energy to the high-profile and pressurised role. He could be exactly what they need at this particular juncture. Potentially, he could be a breath of fresh air.

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His work with the Threat Management Group that Scottish Rugby set up to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic last year certainly showed that his people skills and shrewd diplomacy can get results.

He forged good relationships with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and National Clinical Director Jason Leitch and secured £20m of emergency funding - £15m in grants and £5m in loans - from Holyrood.

Scottish football received £30m. But £20m of that was in loans and just £10m in grants. That was a direct result of certain top flight clubs being publicly critical and unnecessarily combative.

The SFA decided to remain at Hampden shortly after our kickabout three years ago – but it was a close run thing due to the strong case their Scottish Rugby counterparts presented for moving to Murrayfield.

McKay faces a gargantuan task helping Celtic to depose Rangers as the dominant force in the land. They are in disarray. He will have to help a new manager bed in and quickly find new players capable of sustaining a Premiership push. Coronavirus will complicate his efforts no end.

But he will certainly, just as he was when the fitba hacks rolled in to town, be right up for it.