Mark McGhee ban: Dundee went to SFA as Gordon Strachan influence laid bare

Mark McGhee has revealed that Dundee petitioned the SFA in a bid to have his six-match touchline ban reduced or rescinded before unveiling him as manager on Thursday.

Mark McGhee was unveiled as Dundee's new manager on Thursday.
Mark McGhee was unveiled as Dundee's new manager on Thursday.

The former Scotland assistant manager has been reunited with Gordon Strachan at Dens Park to replace James McPake, who was surprisingly sacked on Wednesday with Dundee 11th in the Premiership table.

However, he won't be able to take a seat in the dugout until the home game against former club Aberdeen on April 2 due to a suspension dating back to his second spell in charge at Motherwell. This news has been met with dismay by Dundee fans already upset at the timing of managing director John Nelms' decision to oust McPake after two successive wins.

Simon Rusk, McGhee's assistant, will direct matters on the touchline in the meantime alongside Dave Mackay, who has been retained by the Dens Park club.

McGhee acknowledged that without the influence of Strachan – who is technical director at Dundee – it was very unlikely that he would not be in the equation for the manager's post. He has not managed at club level in Scottish football since leaving Motherwell five years ago.

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McGhee had a misconduct charge hanging over him at the time. He did not feel it was worthwhile attending the disciplinary hearing since he had already returned to the south coast of England where he lives after parting company with the Fir Park club.

He was handed a six-game ban in his absence after being sent to the stand during a game at former club Aberdeen shortly before he was sacked.

Mobile phone footage of him clashing with home fans as he tried to find a seat in the main stand later went viral. He had been in trouble with the SFA earlier that season after an incident against Dundee at Dens Park when he clashed with a steward.

McGhee admitted he feared the punishment would preclude him from managing in Scotland again. He hailed the “brilliant” SFA and chief executive Ian Maxwell in particular for looking at whether “there was a way round it”. Although it won’t be in time to solve his and Dundee’s problem, McGhee believes the SFA might now draw up legislation to set out a timeframe after which such bans become dormant. "I think they will look at that for the future," he said.

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McGhee has since spent time in the dugout at Barnet and Stockport County, where he was an assistant manager. His last spell as outright manager was at Sussex-based non-league club Eastbourne Borough.

“I thought my six-match ban would possibly be a barrier to me getting another job in Scotland,” he admitted. “I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope of getting another job up here.

“But the SFA were brilliant. The attitude they took towards me when they realised what was going on. They have expressed that they now realise it doesn’t feel right and they now need to look at that.

“I would expect they will look at that situation. It is a fairly rare one when someone is getting a job. There may be some provision in there because it has been five years. I have to say, a lot of it is my own doing.

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“Not because I got the ban because I didn’t deserve it, I don’t care what anyone says. I shouldn’t have been banned for what I did against Dundee and what happened to me on that dreadful night in Aberdeen.

“But I didn’t go to the hearing. I’d left Motherwell and I more or less said ‘stick it’. I was too upset and had gone back down south. I didn’t go to the meeting and I got what I deserved in that respect. I should have dealt with it then but I didn’t. Ian Maxwell, though, was brilliant in trying to help me.”

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