Hibs Fans Say No to Malky Mackay

Senior Management at Hibernian Football Club have topped a disastrous season by not just sacking their beleaguered manager, Nick Montgomery but by appointing the deeply divisive figure of Malky Mackay as Footballing Director. In a statement from the club they announced: “As Sporting Director, Mackay will lead and oversee Hibernian FC’s entire football operation, encompassing all departments from recruitment through to the Academy. He will also lead on the appointment of the next Head Coach.”

The Gordon Family commented: “We’d like to welcome Malky and believe he will be a huge asset to our Club and the football department. As the Board conducted the football review, it became clear to everyone that not only did we need someone with experience of the Scottish game, but also a person who could help drive us forward both strategically and operationally.”

Setting aside the idea that you needed a review to tell you that the club (any club) needs someone with “knowledge of the Scottish game” the appointment has been met with astonishment and disgust from fans.

Back in 2014, Crystal Palace withdrew from their connection with Mackay to replace former manager Tony Pulis, following a claim made by Cardiff City that Mackay had ‘sent texts of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature while employed by them’. The comments Mackay is quoted as having said include the following:

Fans groups were quick to respond. Ultras group Block Seven stated: “Today the club announced the appointment of Malky Mackay as sporting director. This is quite simply a disgrace of an appointment. With a track record of being racist, homophobic and misogynistic, he has no place at our club.”

“Just two days ago against Aberdeen, the group displayed anti-racism banners to show that it has no place in not only football, but the world we live in. To appoint this man just days later later is nothing but an insult to the group for even making that statement in the first place.”

The announcement is widely seen as further evidence of the yawning gap between fans ad corporate football culture. Jim Slaven, long-time Hibs supporter and well-known community organiser has written:

“Hibs as a club has lost its way. Sold its soul. Formed through participatory democracy by working class in Little Ireland, as response to racism & poverty. Now owned by billionaire absentee landlord with football operations run by someone sacked for racism (& more). es, people deserve a second chance. But he should not be in such a key role in club, with our history, that claims to care about community. Hibs, rightly, say racism is wrong. But seem to mean only on terraces.”

The Hibernian Women Supporters Alliance have also issued a statement responding specifically to Mackay’s misogyny saying: “HWSA would like to put on record its disgust at the appointment of Malky Mackay as Sporting Director at Hibs. The women’s game is proud of how diverse and inclusive it is for all fans, however it has no place for anyone with a track record of racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments like he does.”

One fan, Cian (The Rebel Hibee) told Bella Caledonia:

“As has become evident from the reaction to the appointment, Malky Mackay is one of the last people Hibs should have appointed at this time. At a time where the fanbase is divided and there’s heavy scrutiny on the role played by each and every person upstairs at Hibs, choosing to hire someone with his track record has done little to assuage me and others ahead of next season. The hurt felt is evident in the statements issued rapidly by Hibs Pride, Hibs Womens Supporters Alliance, James Connolly Hibs Supporters Club and the Block 7 Ultras, as well as individual fans.”

“This feeling is hard to put into words, but to me its a feeling of a loss of attachment with the club, and I can’t see that disconnect being healed in me until Malkay Mackay is no longer employed by the club. When I put my stickers to print, they were values that had drawn me to support the club from Ireland, ones that I felt were core to the very foundations of the club and ones that I felt the club still supported. These values stemmed from its connection with Irish immigrants in Edinburgh and particularly Cowgate and wider anti-racist values, and for me, in particular the connection to James Connolly who supported Hibs and, is said to have attended the meeting where the club was founded. That connection between Hibs and its roots will never be broken because it is maintained by the majority of its supporters, but this appointment is the latest and most galling of a number of actions by the Hibs hierarchy spits in the face of these values that are at the heart of the club.”

The backlash against Mackay’s appointment is gaining strength. A similar fans’ response happened when he was appointed at Ross County.  Conal Tracey, a sports journalist wrote back then (May 2021, ‘Malky Mackay: A Step Back for Scottish Football and a Step Back for Society‘): “Malky Mackay represents everything that Scottish football should be trying to wash their hands of.”

“By being the main man at a club sat high up in the ranks of Scottish football, Mackay has influence over people. His words matter, people will take him seriously.

A large portion of Ross County fans have already contacted the club to express their concerns that Mackay is the wrong man to represent their club and I can’t say I am surprised.

How would you feel as a non-white Ross County supporter? Or a gay Ross County supporter. Or a female Ross County supporter?”

Everything Tracey wrote then is true today. Everything he wrote about Ross County fans applies to Hibs fans.

Football clubs can be at the centre of their communities and hold-up values of inclusivity and solidarity. Clubs like Hibs can protect and nourish those values, or they can sell them out and appoint someone who flies in the face of them. The club is now in collision-course with its fans. We’ve been here before and we will win because you need us.


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Comments (14)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    I notice that Hibernian’s Leah Eddie, who received a call-up for the SWNT recently, is not named for their upcoming European Qualifier against Israel (no Hibernian players are).
    Are Hibernian players ruling themselves out of this fixture? I wonder at it going ahead at Hampden (2024-05-15).

    1. SleepingDog says:

      Sorry, date should have been 2024-05-31 for the first Scotland – Israel encounter, return match 2024-06-04 in Budapest.

      “Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa says he must lead the team against Israel – regardless of how comfortable he is with the situation – after naming his squad for their upcoming Women’s European Championship qualifiers.”

      The Hampden attendance has been restricted to previous match attendees, I gather.

      I mean, I take the points about Malky Mackay, but if you pick this battle and not the other…

  2. John Learmonth says:

    Mmm, the fans of Man City and Newcastle Utd are more than happy to be financed by two of the most repressive regimes on the planet.
    I suspect if Malkay Mckay was an Arab billionaire Hibs fans would be over the moon and wouldn’t care less about his opinions, however I’m a Hearts fan so I might be somewhat prejudiced.

  3. Andy McKean says:

    There is the possibility, or probability, that MacKay has changed. If we accept that we’re all brought up in a racist society, then people do need a way to change that behaviour.
    There’s no evidence that MacKay hasn’t changed.

    1. Paraphrasing the writer quoted in the piece: “How would you feel as a non-white Hibs supporter? Or a gay Hibs supporter. Or a female Hibs supporter?”

      1. Andy McKean says:

        I’m intrigued at why people are assuming that this particular man has not benefited from the diversity and inclusion or anti racist training that he voluntarily undertook.

        1. I mean they’re such a wide-ranging examples of bigotry how much training was required? How long was it Andy?

          1. Andy McKean says:

            You tell me Mike. How many courses would it take MacKay to reach understanding of his behaviour?
            I believe this kind of work can succeed in its aims. There’s no evidence that it hasn’t here. So I’m wondering why people think he’s still a racist.

          2. Did he do courses on misogyny and anti-semitism too?

  4. John says:

    McKay did undertake equality and diversity training post this incident. He has held posts in Scotland since 2016 with no further reported instances of any sexist, racist or homophobic behaviour being reported.
    Kick it Out supported his appointment to SFA in 2016 based on his willingness to undergo training.
    It is now 10 years since the original texts and surely we can accept that people can learn and develop. This is very different from Goodwillie case where there was no acknowledgment of wrongdoing or repentance.
    The opposition to his appointment strikes me as claiming that once a sinner always a sinner.

    1. Niemand says:

      That is exactly what it is doing. But that is the society we live in today, at least for some – there is no repentance possible, and no forgiveness or even accepting that we have to move on after he took steps to learn and grow. I hope the club stand by him but it will takes some guts, something many such bodies lack when it comes to this kind of negative publicity.

    2. 240518 says:

      Yep; it smacks of a nasty, petty vengefulness against the man.

      The man owned his wrongdoing, underwent rehabilitation, and has not since reoffended.

      Why should Malky not enjoy the same sort of justice that other offenders do?

  5. edward chang says:

    Burn the Witch!! etc etc

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