Neil Lennon has suffered a new blow after losing out to Sunderland in his bid to take talent spotter John Park back to Celtic.
Head of recruitment Lee Congerton quit Parkhead to be reunited with Brendan Rodgers at Leicester before Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.
Park, who was scouting chief at Celtic between 2007 and 2016 when he was credited with discovering the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Ki Sung-yuent, was Lennon’s choice to return to the post if the Northern Irishman landed the manager’s job on a permanent basis.
However, in a setback to Lennon’s plans to rebuild the squad this summer, Park is instead poised to land a key role as the new director of football at Sunderland on a five-year contract.
Sunderland owner Stuart Donald is now at an advanced stage in talks with wealthy investors over surrendering control of the club.
And Park is the man identified with overhauling the Wearsiders’ football operation after an end-of-season slump under manager Jack Ross saw automatic promotion from League One to the English Championship slip through their hands.
The loss of Park may yet impact on Lennon’s own decision over his future.
Crowned champions last weekend, Celtic plan to reach a decision over the caretaker manager’s long-term prospects after the Scottish Cup final with Hearts a week on Saturday.
However, with supporters clamouring for a big-name permanent appointment after bookmakers linked the Scottish champions with the likes of Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes, Lennon is assessing whether he wants to sign a long-term deal.