Following the departure of John Hughes on Saturday there has been speculation over the last couple of days over who would be the next manger. Last night it was announced on various sources such as Sky Sports and the Scottish Sun that Malky Mackay was set to be the new manager of Ross County Football Club and will likely be announced today.
Whatever your opinions on the guy’s previous actions are this can only be described as an absolute PR disaster for the club.
In March, 2014 Cardiff City obtained messages that Malky Mackay had sent during the period of June 2011 and March 2014 whilst he was employed by the club. These messages contained some completely unacceptable language of racist and misogynistic nature and despite escaping punishment by the English FA, in a decision that was heavily criticised by anti-discrimination groups, Mackay was held with disdain by football fans across Britain and never really regained the respect of the average supporter.
Since the announcement of his supposed pending appointment there has been uproar amongst the fan base on social media with fans threatening to not buy season tickets and/or withdraw their support towards the Staggies Army initiative.
Some of the abhorrent messages I cannot even feel comfortable typing given the extent of the language used but one of them that stuck out to me was the comment he made after receiving a list of potential signings, to which he replied: “Not a lot of white faces amongst that lot but worth considering.”
Throughout last season we observed players taking the knee at Ross County, and throughout the SPFL, at the start of each game to show support towards the prominent Black Lives Matter campaign. We also watched a video from PFA Scotland that was played throughout the coverage of Ross County matches that highlighted its support towards Show Racism the Red Card.
I feel that after a season so greatly set on promoting equality and unifying supporters the decision to appoint such a controversial man will have a detrimental effect to uniting the fan base.
We have already seen fans of clubs in England openly boo players taking the knee, embarrassing the other half of their fanbase. The last thing we need at this so-called family club is for a divided support, which we are already witnessing across social media this morning.
Roy MacGregor has supposedly outlined that he wants to revisit what the club stands for and what it represents so I certainly hope he has put a great amount of thought into the decision to appoint a man widely regarded as a racist and a misogynist throughout Scottish football. Whether he feels that Mackay has changed his past ways and deserves a chance at rehabilitation is for him to be transparent with the fans about and a statement on Mackay’s past scandal could be a start on getting the support back on side. I feel it is a risk that is too big to take and that many staggies could view this appointment as an unforgivable.
His last appointment in football came at Wigan Athletic in 2014 and resulted in kitchen firm Premier Range pulling out of their shirt sponsorship deal describing its feeling towards the club’s position as “untenable”. Energy drinks firm Ipro also cut ties with the club saying it: “Actively encourages positive working relationships that are not based on colour, race, nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or age and cannot condone racism, sexism or homophobia. As a result, it is with deep regret that Ipro Sport will be severing its relationship with Wigan Athletic.”
This raises questions over how sponsorships of Ross County will react to this appointment and if we could see similar reactions to the ones in Wigan seven years ago.
The supporter’s liaison officer, Kenny MacLennan, has said that he will be passing on the overwhelming negative feelings of the supporters directly to the club towards the appointment of Mackay so time will soon tell if there is any potential that the board could be swayed on this decision.
Now looking at this from a purely footballing standpoint there is not a great deal of evidence that Mackay is the right appointment as manager anyway.
To me it feels very much reminiscent of bringing in Owen Coyle as both have a similar track record of performing well in the English Championship many years before.
There is no doubt Mackay did work very well at Cardiff getting them to a league cup final along with promotion to the English Premier League, but they did have one of the biggest budgets in the division and one of the reasons he was eventually sacked for was overspending in the transfer market, putting the club’s finances in jeopardy.
His last manager job was at Wigan Athletic which lasted less than five months after he left the club eight points from safety achieving 19 points from a possible 72.
Since leaving Wigan, Mackay has been working for the SFA as performance director. He took charge of one Scotland match as interim manager, a 1-0 loss to the Netherlands in 2017.
The fact that Mackay has not been in management since 2015 is a cause for concern along with never having a manager role in the Scottish leagues before.
A theory of why this may have come about is that MacKay managed Don Cowie at Watford, Cardiff and Wigan. I wonder whether Mackay has been brought in to work above Cowie to mentor him for the next couple of years in the hope that he may prepare Cowie to take over as manager himself, which appears to be the long-term plan for MacGregor.
Nothing is confirmed officially yet but it certainly seems as though Mackay will be the man in charge possibly by the end of today so it will soon be seen how the club respond to the reaction of the supporters and how the media will take to such a controversial appointment.