The former Wigan, Watford and Cardiff boss has been out of work since leaving the SFA Performance Director role late last year, and replaces Hughes, who kept the Dingwall club in the SPFL Premiership before the expiry of his short-term contract.
The appointment was confirmed on Wednesday lunchtime despite fans raising concerns with the rumoured lead candidate for the role. County supporters’ liaison officer Kenny MacLennan said he had relayed fan reaction and responses about the imminent appointment to the club’s hierarchy.
However the Highland club believe they have recruited “an individual who has vast experience, essential leadership skills and strong knowledge of the game” for the “next chapter at the club” in Mackay who was last in the dugout as interim manager of the national team in 2017. Scotland lost the friendly to Holland 1-0 but the game at Pittodrie included international debuts for Ryan Jack and Callum McGregor.
A Staggies statement read: "In appointing Malky, the club feel that we have an individual who has vast experience, essential leadership skills and strong knowledge of the game. As well as being a respected figure throughout football with extensive contacts that will be essential in developing the next chapter of our club.
"As well as having been a manager, Malky brings great experience at performance development level as well as in strategic-planning and governance. This was clearly shown during his tenure as Performance Director at the Scottish FA, where he was also proud to take interim management of his national side.
“Ross County FC very much feel like this is the start of a new chapter on our journey and look forward to supporting Malky in every way possible to help drive the club forward.”
The new man at the Global Energy Stadium had previously been subject of an FA investigation from his time in charge of Cardiff seven years ago. Mackay apologised in 2014 for sending two text messages ‘disrespectful of other cultures’ but the FA took no action after concluding their probe into ‘discriminatory language’ claims.
A central defender, Mackay began his playing career at Queen’s Park before moving to Celtic. He later switched south to Norwich, West Ham and Watford before moving into coaching.