Just 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.”
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!
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.