2007 - 2021

The Malky Mackay Redemption Handbook

_86066172_groupdJust when you think the SFA can sink no lower and display no further levels of incompetence, they surprise you. In a time when a huge scandal of child sex abuse is being uncovered in our country, and when our national game has reached a new nadir, Stewart Regan and the SFA appoint a man who’s been unemployable and who is synonymous with racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-semitic views. What message does this send out? It sends out a message saying: ‘we don’t really care’.

There is no-one other than the SFA responsible for the catalogue of failure that has seen us now watch our ninth major tournament in succession from afar. They have presided over the following managerial appointments, which, apart from Smith and McLeish, have been unmitigated disasters, often exhibiting a sort of shameful sporting cringe, dreadful man-management and tactical incompetence.

Gordon Strachan (15-Jan-13 – Present)
Billy Stark (06-Nov-12 – 15-Nov-12)
Craig Levein (23-Dec-09 – 05-Nov-12)
George Burley (24-Jan-08 – 16-Nov-09)
Alex McLeish (29-Jan-07 – 27-Nov-07)
Walter Smith (01-Jan-05 – 10-Jan-07)
Tommy Burns (04-Nov-04 – 01-Dec-04)
Berti Vogts (01-Mar-02 – 01-Nov-04)

That’s eight managers in fourteen years.

The SFA presided over the McGregor/Ferguson Boozegate farce, the purchase for £1 of Rangers for Craig Whyte without ANY due diligence, Resolution 12, the price of tickets at Hampden, the failure of the Under 21 team, the trip to Georgia where players were left stranded in the airport for three hours, the referees strike, the appalling tv and media settlement …the list goes on and on.

Mackay is the third person to hold the role of performance director in the last few years following Mark Wotte and Brian McClair. It is a crucial role we’re told in redeveloping (saving) our game. As Ewan Murray wrote of the Performance Director role, a post carrying a salary of abut £200k, this is a post “which oversees schools, academies, male and female teams plus the coaches responsible for them. What possible message would it send out for someone with Mackay’s previous to be in charge? For all Mackay has a right to work and a second chance, being given this in such a job would be staggering, even by the SFA’s questionable standards of judgment”.

Yesterday it was revealed by Channel 4 News Ciaran Jenkins that: “The government said it was cutting ties with JD Sports until it was satisfied workers were being treated “appropriately.” In an incredible and under-reported story the DWP announced they were severing ties with the company after revelations about the Rochdale plant revealed extremely harsh and exploitative work conditions. Full details here.

SFA have an exclusive kit deals with JD Sports. As of today they were refusing to comment on the situation.

Regan has just awarded himself a £30,000 pay rise, taking his salary to £280,000 per year, a far cry from the dizzy heights of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Scotland had a proud history for a small country of competing at major international tournaments. Now we aspire to be as good as Iceland or Northern Ireland.

For all the SFA’s bluster that Mackay was always the ‘standout’ candidate, that’s really not true. The standout candidate was Austin MacPhee who has been working with Michael O’Neill in northern Ireland and was poached by Hearts.

Malky Mackay’s Redemption Handbook

Malky Mackay’s appointment could not have been achieved if it wasn’t for a transparent and embarrassing spin machine carefully orchestrated by the SFA and the individual. Here are the key elements:

1. First get some top advice from a Spin Doctor.
2. Second get the BBC to do a puff-piece on you, focusing on all the right things.
3. Third get the endorsement of Rangers and Celtic, cos that’s the only thing that matters in Scottish football and will distract the bulk of their fans.
4. Finally get an endorsement from some under-resourced anti-racist charities.

In Richard Wilson’s extraordinary piece fort BBC Scotland he answered his rhetorical question: “What makes Mackay the ideal candidate?” with the following anecdotes:

“As a coach, he has primarily worked with first-team players, but his inclination has always been to think beyond the boundaries of the senior dressing room.”

This is shorthand for “we know he hasn’t really done this job”.

“Mackay has worked at a high level in England, guiding Cardiff City to the Premier League, but he is also well-known to Scottish football figures given his playing time at Celtic and the Mackay family’s long-standing involvement with Queen’s Park, where his father, Malky senior, is a director.”

Got it.

29132“Mackay is close enough to Sir Alex Ferguson to regularly seek advice, while previous employers such as Sir Elton John at Watford and Delia Smith at Norwich also stay in contact.”

A Candle in the Wind, plus great flans.

“Mackay spent nine months out of football after details emerged of text messages with Cardiff City’s former sporting director Iain Moody that contained discriminatory language. The situation was complex.”

The situation wasn’t complex.

The language wasn’t ‘discriminatory’ it was racist, homophobic and misogynist.

What did Malky do while he was out of a job? Wilson explains:

“He spent time with his friend Ray Kelvin, who built Ted Baker into a leading retailer”.

Ooh, Ted Baker. Fancy.

What else did he do? Malky we’re told made “a written manual”, that “Mackay had leather-bound, on how to build a club’s infrastructure. Not all of it will be directly applicable to the performance director role, but it is an example of his ability to devise and implement frameworks.”

Written AND Leather bound you say? It really does sound like he knows what he’s doing when you put it like that!

Rehabilitation Mantra

Much of the defence has been built around “move on” – “give the guy a second chance” etc. But as STV’s Grant Russel pointed out at the SFA press conference: “Mackay wouldn’t admit texts were racist. Regan wouldn’t answer if appointment hypocritical given Dallas sacking.”

Rehabilitation would be fine but there is no contrition only denial. This is an expensive shambles.


The problem with the SFA and regain is that no-one oversees them. They can oversee such a catalogue of disaster and no-one really cares, nothing ever happens. The only people with any real power in this situation are us.

As Duncan McKay writes (“Why Malky Mackay’s hiring makes me ashamed of Scottish Football” ):

“For all the good work the Scottish FA has undertaken on social issues in recent years, it’s just been thrown in the bin. How are we as fans meant to respond to the Show Racism the Red Card action weekends when it’s clear that using racist language is no impediment to the upper echelons of Scottish football? …This appointment could very well be a watershed moment in Scottish football. For years many people felt removed from the Scottish FA. A feeling that the organisation was being run for a small cabal of people within the game. Today, with this appointment, they no longer have that feeling. They know.”

We need a game run with values with a bit of flair with a bit of ambition and with some radical innovation. We need a game that is forward-looking not stuck in a rut with a closed-door and a pals-act.

The reality it is that we’re not going to qualify for the next World Cup under Gordon Strachan. We should pull the plug and leave Hamden empty until there’s a proper restructuring of the entire game. If we don’t we’ll just have to put up with this cabal of men handing down the secret arts of failure down the generations like some sort of football Kabbalah.




Comments (23)

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  1. Mach1 says:

    It is obvious that Mackay is too controversial a figure to be appointed to this important role. Awareness training does not a convert make. It is only a start for an actor in a football culture where racism is rife and where it seems there are few gay players and women’s football is seen as second class.
    The lack of accountability at the SFA reflects a more uncomfortable Truth: that the failure to address racism and its Scottish cousin sectarianism has given birth to a self-serving bureaucracy in football which acts only to lay blame when inaction is assured. The continuing Rangers debacle illustrates this in exemplary fashion. Decent fans cringe while officialdom pares its nails.
    The politics is even murkier if not downright corrupt, with political parties either turning a blind eye or nurturing the worst elements for political advantage. This wad never so toxic than during the indyref campaign.
    I await the day when anyone stands up and admits their part in the failings of our national game. The irresponsibility of the SFA surely cannot be allowed to go unchallenged?

  2. Chris Downie says:

    While I don’t condone Mackay’s stupidity in the past, there’s a whiff of SJW (social justice warrior) about a lot of the reaction to this, insofar as you’re not allowing the man to rehabilitate. While thugs like Duncan Ferguson and Joey Barton were allowed to serve time in jail for serious assaults, then resume their careers, Mackay’s sins pale in comparison.

    What does it say about the Left these days, when a few idiotic text messages are worse than outright thuggery?

    1. The difference between Ferguson and Barton and Mackay is that the former were both prosecuted were they not? The problem with Mackay is not his rehabilitation, its his rehab in THIS role.

  3. John Page says:

    I hesitate to comment on football, not having been to a match since an unwanted encounter with a flying bottle at Hampden 40 years ago…….but this immediately reminded me of the “Ah hate Scots” scene in Trainspotting…..what is wrong with us paying £280k a year for this underperformance?

  4. mike says:

    Hit the nail on the head by mentioning securing the perceived approval of the OF, from an ex-OF man and a safe bet. They’re great clubs, but all the while the SFA are in their thrall the game as a whole will suffer. I remember having a similar conversation with a mate a good few years ago now, and all the while the OF are looking at each other, and the SFA are looking at them, the world is moving on.

    Surely there must have been a different alternative option to McPhee?

  5. Juteman says:

    Is there any process for sacking Regan and Doncaster?
    They seem to be untouchable.

    1. Juteman says:

      Can anyone imagine two Scotsmen being allowed to run English football into the ground?

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Most of Scotland’s several hundred public/semi-public institutions are not run by Scots. Nineteen universities, yet only two have Scottish principals. Par for the course, as is the £150k-400k heid bummer salary. What’s the definition of a colony? A country run by folk from another country. Yet does this not diminish Scotland’s culture, and performance, limiting the potential of our own people, i.e. discrimination/oppression? Scotland’s performance – whether arts, football, economy, poverty etc – is hardly what it could be. Maybe we need to promote ourselves for a change?

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    The thing is, the SFA knows fine most football fans will be happy to pretend Mackay did nothing wrong if he can actually do his job well (and many won’t even care in the first place). Some of the same folk criticising the SFA for hiring Mackay were not so long ago demanding Scotland’s attack be led by a footballer who thinks it’s okay to chant “Rudi Skacel is a fucking refugee” in public. And let’s not pretend there’s not a club in Scotland that wouldn’t relish the chance of signing Luis Suarez or John Terry in his prime. “I know he said something racist, but he’s a good player, and it was all said in the heat of the moment anyway.”

    Until football fans start holding playing and managerial staff to higher standards, there’s not a hope in hell of the SFA doing so. If fans are happy to pretend something is just “locker room talk”, then so is the SFA.

    1. It’s a fair point Doug – apart from two to counter it.

      The first is that, as many have pointed out, he doesn’t really have the background and experience to do this work (hence the desperate puffing).
      Second, players are not asked to command a strategic position that involves working with all sections of society, girls, youth teams and the wider public.

      I gettit that many fans just want goals and dont care what the players think, but this is different.

      1. Doug Daniel says:

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a ridiculous appointment and just shows what kind of organisation the SFA is. I just don’t think we should kid ourselves on that the majority of football fans give a toss what he texted, except perhaps those who don’t like the guy in the first place.

        Just being cynical basically 😛

  7. w.b.robertson says:

    you should all realise by now that there are football folk…and the rest of us. that is the way fitba folk (and sportwriters) view it.

  8. Darby O'Gill says:

    Argue with officials in public, claim for things (corners, throw-ins etc ) which you’re clearly not entitled to, dive to the ground when no-one has touched you, deliberately foul opposition players, spit continuously (sometimes on opponents), constantly use foul language, and occasionally kick the inflated pigskin between the two sticks at the other end of the field. Who else would we have as a Performance Director’ but a racist abuser who can’t spell? And for this we will pay a king’s ransom all in the name of ‘sport’. Our kids need role models. Ah, The Beautiful Game’.

  9. peter says:

    So the SFA in their wisdom say he strikes all the right chords. So when they the SFA went searching for a candidate the name came up and i am sure the list of wrongs came up. Thats right they sorted this they did due diligence checked out all his rehab got all sort of refrences credible of course and hey gave the guy a second chance to better himself. What happened to Craig White,David Murray, res 12, off shore tax case, EBT’s hey cmon due diligence remember the thing you did with the guy you appointed, please SFA why don’t you just feck off you are ruining the sport for generations, you are a shower of greedy bastards, will the development involve free access to working class kids to use empty sport centres and play football, we have a problem in Scotland it is not kids playing computers etc it the privitisation of our game for profit and the robbing and denying kids the chance to make it, we will not see the likes of jimmy Johnstone and that type again we will churn out hand picked mediocre waanabes who will participate in the game not for the love but the money and to achieve this they also will be fleeced into the academies. Time to boycott Scotland national team a fucking joke outfit and laughable world over.

  10. Socrates MacSporran says:

    Scottish fitba is all about the Bigot Brothers lording it over the rest of us, while arguing over Northern Irish history.

    As for the other 42 “diddy” teams; as long as their directors get to stuff their snouts in that part of the trough which the BBs allow them to, they are quite happy to go along with the big two.

    Our senior league set-up is wrong; young player development is a joke; the game might not be the masonic conspiracy one half of the BBs think it is, but, it’s all wheels within wheels – you scratch my back – I’ll scratch yours, and, as long as the mug punters keep turning up, and the stupid sports writers don’t annoy the wrong people, we’ll get along fine.

    It’s a mess, but, it has been a mess for years and there is no demand for change. So, guys like Malky Mackay will get jobs for which they are not remotely qualified, the BBs will still rule the roost and we will slip ever further down the rankings.

    Scottish fitba is going to hell in a hand-crt.

  11. Josef O Luain says:

    It is impossible to say who else might be to blame for the disgrace that is Scottish football other than the fans who have tolerated, year-in-year-out, the glaring mediocrity of the overpaid, all powerful suits.

    As for the sports journalists: why would any single one of them want to rock-the-boat?

    This very Scottish grid-lock can only be broken by the adoption of radical tactics by the fans.

    Boycott the third-rate product, or quit whining and be happy with more of the same.

  12. Redgauntlet says:

    I’ve been saying for some time now that, given the style the national team plays, and in fact all the teams in Scotland play, we would be far better off with a rugby coach…

  13. Jo says:

    I disagree with your view that McLeish was one of the disasters Mike. Under McLeish Scotland beat France home AND away. At the time, no-one had EVER done that! We nearly made it that time only it was the TEAM who screwed up in Georgia, not McLeish.

    When you look at other “small” countries like Wales, NI and Ireland and, let’s throw in Iceland too, compare the heart in those teams compared with the Scotland set up. Isn’t that about the team and their attitude and pride in playing for their country? Once upon a time every huge team in England had at least three great Scots playing for them and those guys were respected at the highest level. Many of them won high honours with their teams. It’s hard to understand where the enthusiasm for football has gone and especially for playing for their country.

    On Malky, I’m fine with his appointment. The man sent (three?) dodgy texts. I think that’s really not something to demonise him for or render him completely unable to return to football. I think that’s harsh indeed. He apologised and he was punished. I wish him well in the appointment and hope he has better luck than McClair had at the SFA.

    1. James Mills says:

      FYI : McLeish was in charge for the away leg when we beat France , Walter Smith was in charge when we beat them at Hampden .

      ”The Team screwed up in Georgia , not McLeish ” – really ? So you credit McLeish ( wrongly )for beating the French twice but when we blow it against Georgia it is the team’s fault . Wow ! Why can’t other managers use this excuse ?

      1. Jo says:

        I do apologise for forgetting about Walter Smith being in charge during that qualifying period when the first match against France was played, James.

        McLeish still got a significant number of wins in that period though, including the huge one in Paris which, I recall, was considered a pretty amazing result. I recall the sheer joy here when the final whistle went in the away game. Which means that I need to add to my earlier view the name of Walter Smith along with his back up team as a Scotland manager, along with McLeish, who wasn’t a disaster for Scotland. It was managers Mike was talking about after all.

        I also think you’ve misunderstood my post. Teams and managers have roles to play in all games equally, obviously, but ultimately it’s what the team does that counts at the final whistle.

        Yes, I said I thought the players blew it in Georgia and that’s my opinion still. You may not agree with it but I (again) think, considering how well Scotland had done by that point, the players should have been unstoppable and totally up for it. I genuinely believe McLeish, and all of us, were let down that night. Yes, we’d had injuries but we were playing against a very inexperienced and young Georgia side and the three points should have been ours. There was an unbelievable incentive: we were almost there and within touching distance.

        As I said, it’s just an opinion and we’re all entitled to one. Bosman has changed the game itself obviously throughout the UK and beyond and there are few chances for up and coming home born youngsters to make it. That said, it hasn’t ripped the heart out of other small countries like Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland when it comes to being passionate about playing for their country and achieving qualification for the big tourneys. The Scotland situation is, then, all the more mystifying.

        1. Crubag says:

          Possibly Scotland is in an awkward middle ground with clubs big enough to pay for foreign players but not big enough to also ensure a healthy supply of domestic players, who can then feed in to the national side? (Post-Brexit, the Bosman ruling probably may not apply to Scotland.)

          As a bystander, I’ve always been struck by how little store club supporters put on the provenance of players, as long as the team wins.

          Possibly we need Team Scotland approach, and we have a young, full-time national side separate from club recruitment and development? If SportsScotland and Lottery funding were redirected, that could be sufficient to support it.

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