Malky Mackay supported by anti-racism group as Scottish post beckons

Malky Mackay supported by anti-racism group as Scottish post beckons

Malky Mackay's impending appointment as performance director of the Scottish Football Association has been backed by an anti-racism group.

Show Racism the Red Card Scotland has wished Mackay well in his significant new role, which is expected to be confirmed this week and will put him in charge of overseeing the development of elite young players in Scotland.

The former Cardiff and Wigan manager was the subject of an 11-month investigation by the Football Association surrounding alleged racist, sexist and homophobic text messages sent between himself and Ian Moody, his head of player recruitment with the Bluebirds.

The FA decided not to bring charges "in respect of private communications sent with a legitimate expectation of privacy'' but that decision was condemned by a number of organisations, including anti-discriminatory group Kick it Out, the Jewish Leadership Council and Women in Football.

Mackay denied being racist, sexist or homophobic and the FA stressed during its announcement in July 2015 that the former Celtic defender had voluntarily undertaken equality and diversity training.

SNP MSP Clare Haughey claimed Mackay's appointment would "risk sending a message that bigotry is no barrier to a top job in Scottish football, a particularly terrible message to send to the young players of tomorrow".

But Show Racism the Red Card Scotland believes the 44-year-old deserves the chance to revive his career.

Chief executive Ged Grebby said in a statement: "After admitting to sending text messages that were very regrettable and disrespectful to other cultures Malky Mackay underwent equality and diversity training through an education programme with the FA and we wish him well in his new role at the SFA."

The organisation's campaign manager, Nicola Hay, added: "SRtRC firmly believes that education is key in combating homophobia, racism and racist attitudes, Malky Mackay has been through an education programme and we hope that this will have changed his attitudes and made him more aware of appropriate and inappropriate language/behaviour."

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Mackay was sacked by Cardiff in December 2013 and dropped a claim against the club six months later, apologising unreservedly to owner Vincent Tan for "any offence" he may have caused.

News of the text messages emerged in August 2014 when Mackay was on the verge of being appointed Crystal Palace manager. Cardiff announced they had sent a dossier to the FA, which ruled in July 2015. Mackay was both controversially hired and then fired by Wigan during the course of the 11-month investigation.

The former Queen's Park player has had opportunities to return to management in the past 18 months and it is understood he was on Celtic's shortlist to replace Ronny Deila before Brendan Rodgers was given the job.

He is set to replace Brian McClair, who quit the SFA in the summer, a little over a year into his job amid frustration over obstacles to the implementation of his planned reforms of youth football.

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Rangers boss Mark Warburton reckons Mackay is the perfect man to revolutionise youth development in Scotland.

Warburton was assistant academy director at Watford when Mackay managed the Hornets and believes he has all the necessary credentials to make a success of the Hampden post.

But the Englishman rejected those criticising his impending appointment and accused the media of employing "lazy journalism" with their recent coverage.

The Gers manager said: "I know Malky very well. He's a football man through and through. I've read some shocking statements about Malky.

"I get very disappointed when I see people copying and pasting articles from three-and-a-half years ago. I think that's lazy journalism.

"But I do know Malky's integrity, I know he's an honest football person. I've watched him work with young players and old players and he's a first-class football man.

"He's very knowledgeable, very articulate. He's good on the grass, good in the boardroom. He's a very smart guy and I know he'll do a great job for the SFA."

And Warburton rejected suggestions his friend would be under pressure to make an immediate impact in his new role because of his past controversies.

He said: "Without being rude, that would be entirely the wrong thing. 'To hit the ground running' - what does that mean?

"It's a long-term job. You don't just suddenly put in development plans and then say we've just won a World Cup. It doesn't work that way, it takes time to put structures in place.

"Has Malky got the organisational skills? Is he smart enough? Absolutely - but it is a long-term project by the very nature of its title."

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan admitted McClair had struggled to convince club chiefs across the country of his vision for the future.

But Warburton believes MacKay will be able to enter boardrooms and sell his plans with success.

He said: "Malky is smart enough to realise they will always look after their own interests because we have to. We're here to look after Rangers and the other clubs will say the same.

"But there is obviously a problem and the game has to improve, so we also appreciate it's about the greater good.

"So how can we contribute? What role can Rangers play in the bigger picture? It's about getting the balance right.

"Malky is good in the boardroom, good in meetings as well as on the grass, so I think he has all the attributes required."

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