Judge me by my actions – new Scottish FA performance director Mackay

Malky Mackay

Mackay says Scotland “don’t have enough good players” and wants to change that

Malky Mackay has urged critics to “judge me by my actions” after being appointed as the Scottish FA’s new performance director.

Three years ago, Mackay apologised for sending three texts containing discriminatory language.

And he is one of five men being pursued by Cardiff City in a High Court claim over allegedly fraudulent transfers.

Mackay denies any wrongdoing and said that he would “respect the legal process”.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regain added that the governing body had carried out “due diligence” and that Mackay could be a “force for good”.

After being confirmed as successor to Brian McClair and Mark Wotte, Mackay insisted that he had learned the lessons of his offensive text messages and worked with various groups in an equality and diversity capacity.

“Three years ago, I apologised publicly and privately for the three texts to the two gentleman I spoke about,” Mackay said.

“Then, for the last three years, I’ve been involved in diversity and equality meetings and been on an education to a point where I know more about it than anybody in this room – then going on to talk to young players and young coaches concerning it.

“What I said at the time I deeply regret. It’s about learning from that and making sure my understanding of what happened I can pass on to others. Judge me by my actions over the next period of time.

“We were well aware of [the High Court claim], I was waiting on it. It’s come up in the last three jobs that I’ve gone for, the same article, [by the] same person, and it was something I’d spoken to Stewart about and that my legal advisors had advised the SFA about at an early basis.

“I categorically deny that I’ve done anything wrong. There is not a shred of evidence against me.”.

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Mackay ‘has the skill set’ for SFA role

Regan described Mackay as the “outstanding candidate” and insisted that he was the right person for the role because of his background in football and also because he can play an active part in the SFA’s anti-discrimination strategy.

“We’re very proud of our work in equality and diversity,” said Regan. “We currently have the intermediate level of the equality standard and we’re well on track for making progress on the advance level.

“Within our equality strategy, we talk about being fair and inclusive and we accept that Malky has made mistakes, he said things that were regrettable, but he’s shown genuine remorse and we were impressed and encouraged by the actions he’s taken since apologising for what he said.

“Of his own volition, he’s undergone equality training and has lectured on that to a number of different organisations. We believe that Malky will be a force for good for Scottish football, he’ll be part of our equality and diversity strategy and be a real advocate for the role.

“We’ve undertaken due diligence, through Malky and his QC, and we’re convinced that Malky has what it takes to be an excellent performance director.

“We spoke to a number of individuals, stakeholders, third parties, to get feedback about Malky and the work that he has done in the past and the issues.

“What Malky has disclosed to us as part of the due diligence process is the same information that’s come out since 2013.

“He’s been very clear, very open, his QC has been very clear and very open, we’ve had access to a lot of information and we are very confident that everything that has been disclosed sets out what Malky has gone through.”

Mackay’s task, when he takes up his role early in the New Year, is to lead and implement Project Brave, a remodelling of the SFA’s performance strategy to improve the number of young players reaching the elite level of Scottish football.

He has primarily worked as a coach and a manager since retiring from playing, but he insists his experiences in charge of Watford and Cardiff City – who he led to the Premier League before being sacked in 2013 – have prepared him for the performance director role.

“I have [been an administrator] because the role I undertook at Watford, it was myself, the sporting director and the chief executive who ran the club, so I was involved in a weekly meeting involving budgets, reporting to the board and shaping how the club was run,” Mackay said.

“That stood me in good stead going to Cardiff, because there I was asked to put together a strategy for rebuilding the football club, department to department, and talking to the board on a regular basis.

“I’ve got a broad range [of experience]. Relationships help, the fact that you’re able to make phone calls and somebody picks up the phone and welcomes you into their football club is huge.

“We need to have a togetherness in this country, from clubs, to the Scottish FA, to the media. We don’t have enough good players, we’re not managing to give [Scotland coach] Gordon Strachan enough good players and we’ve got to do more of it.

“I believe that my skill set and the clubs that I’ve been involved in, in the boardrooms in terms of strategy and planning, has given me an understanding of that part of the job.

“In terms of coaching, how to talk to players, coaches, managers, the access that I’ve got to the managers in Scotland, allows me the chance to follow on from my two predecessors.

“There was good work done by Mark Wotte and Brian McClair and, having read Project Brave, there’s very good work done by the working party involved in that.

“I’ve got to make sure I take that on and we raise standards and try to get Scottish players through.”

Malky Mackay and Stewart Regan<!–

Regan (right) previously appointed Wotte and McClair to the role

What is Project Brave?

It is a 22-page document drawn up by a working party consisting of representatives of Celtic, Rangers (including one previously at Falkirk), Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian, Hamilton Academical, Ross County, Annan Athletic and the Scottish Professional Football League.

The overarching ambition is “more, better Scottish international players, playing better football – more often”. To that end, a number of proposals have been raised and will be worked through with the clubs before a final performance strategy is implemented in 2018. They include:

  • concentrating the SFA’s investment on the most productive academies and reworking the criteria and categories of the measurable performance outcomes by which funding levels are assessed
  • accelerating the development of talented players and coaches through a revised games programme – and moving under-11 to under-16 games to summer football
  • introducing new competitive football for players between aged 17-21
  • reducing the number of fully-funded performance academies (likely to no more than 16) and the number of players within them
  • addition of reserve league and possible colt teams opportunities

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