SFA all-clear for Malky Mackay talks as Dundee United step up boss search
The move is already generating debate among United fans on social media, some of whom are unhappy at the club even contemplating hiring the 48-year-old. Mackay was involved in exchanging offensive texts with his then head of recruitment Iain Moody while in charge of Cardiff City.
Mackay later denied sending any racist, sexist or homophobic texts but apologised for three messages that he described as “inappropriate and unacceptable”.
Dundee United want to make an appointment as quickly as possible with sporting director Tony Asghar in charge of recruiting Neilson’s successor.
Neilson left to join Hearts eight days ago, the Tannadice side having secured the Championship title after the season was curtailed in March.
The promotion to the top flight that should automatically follow this achievement is being contested by Hearts and Partick Thistle, who have lodged a petition at the Court of Session challenging their relegation to the Championship and League 1 respectively.
Mackay has never previously managed in Scotland but has been performance director at the SFA for just over three and a half-years. He was appointed in December 2016 despite considerable opposition from those who found it difficult to square his previous behaviour with a role promoting youth football in Scotland for both sexes.
Reports of the controversial texts emerged in August 2014 as he was preparing to be named manager of Crystal Palace, where Moody had since moved after leaving Cardiff.
Mackay was sacked by Cardiff City in December 2013 after his relationship with owner Vincent Tan deteriorated.
Mackay has since held two posts in football. He was manager of Wigan Athletic for a five-month spell in the 2014-15 season, winning five out of 24 Championship games. He was sacked in April 2015.
His appointment as SFA performance director caused unease but the campaign group Show Racism the Red Card supported Mackay, pointing out he has undergone equality and diversity training.
Mackay pointed out that he received no punishment following an 11-month FA inquiry, which concluded he had been entitled to an expectation of privacy and noted he had undergone equality and diversity training. Mackay stated he had spent the previous three years educating himself on such issues. He also pledged to stay in the performance director role for five years – if he was wanted.
“You will find I am honest and transparent, whether you like me is a different matter,” he said.
“Three years ago I apologised publicly and in front of cameras. I apologised privately for the three texts to the two gentlemen that I spoke about.
“And for the last three years I have been involved in diversity and equality meetings and basically been on an education to the point where I probably know more about it than anybody in this room in terms of them actually going on to talk to young players and coaches concerning it.
“It’s something I have been involved in in London, Birmingham, Manchester and abroad. That’s something I think I am now pretty well-versed in.”
He has since overseen the implementation of Project Brave, the SFA’s attempts to improve club youth development structures, and taken a hands-on role in the Scotland youth teams.
Mackay also took caretaker charge of Scotland for one match – a 1-0 friendly defeat by Holland in November 2017.
His last game as manager at club level was a 2-0 home defeat by Derby County while Wigan Athletic manager, following which he lost his job after only 138 days in charge.
He previously led Cardiff City into the Premier League in 2013 and was named League Managers’ Association Championship manager of the year on the back of this achievement. He started his management career at Watford in 2009 when he replaced Brendan Rodgers.
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