LADBROKES proved yesterday it is not only Americans who don’t understand irony when they named Derek McInnes as their Manager of the Month for September, just 24 hours after revealing they had closed the book on him becoming the next Scottish Premiership boss to leave his club.
The latter announcement came after a number of wagers were placed on just that scenario, sparking a tidal wave of rumour and speculation on social media which forced Aberdeen FC to issue a statement making it clear it was business as usual at Pittodrie.
Not that McInnes was in any mood to pose for the usual promotional pictures with the bookmaker’s trophy, after the angst caused by the league’s main sponsor, and therein lies a seemingly intractable problem.
Aberdeen chief executive Duncan Fraser has registered the club’s displeasure with Neil Doncaster, his counterpart at the SPFL, but the Dons manager himself admits there is very little that can be done when bookmakers in general are a source of vital revenue for Scottish clubs.
Alex Smith, the president of the Scottish League Managers Association, recently called for the scrapping of betting on what effectively he viewed as a sack race and McInnes has sympathy for those views. He said: “It’s difficult to stop because if it wasn’t Ladbrokes it would be another company, but Alex was right to speak out on behalf of the managers because the job is difficult enough.
“It’s not just an Aberdeen thing. The whole thing has to be addressed and spoken about across the board.
“When you are main sponsors I think you have a responsibility. I think they should be working with clubs and with managers to foster relationships rather than working against us. Surely a good sponsorship is about working together to make things better?
“I was baffled by the whole thing. It was bizarre but I’m not the only one to get it. It was Jackie McNamara, Gary Locke, Alan Archibald and Ian Baraclough in previous weeks and it brings an unnecessary spotlight and pressure on managers.
“I’m not saying I’m 100 per cent watertight but I am in a secure position here. I have a good chairman who I’m tight with, I have players on long-term contracts and I have the staff in that I wanted. . I am in a strong position but there was still enough to cast doubt on that.”
Ladbroke’s last night claimed there was nothing necessarily negative about offering odds on the next manager to leave a club.
Their spokesman David MacDonald insists that suspending betting on McInnes earlier this week was simply a reaction to the market He said: “Derek McInnes could be offered the next Manchester United position and that’s why he would leave Aberdeen.
“It’s about the next manager to leave. If he wants to go on to bigger and better things. So, it’s not about anything negative.
“We took a handful of bets on Wednesday and there was a demand for prices over Derek McInnes being the next manager to leave his club.That prompted our trading department to suspend betting on that issue. All we’re doing is reacting to the market.”
McInnes is determined both he and the Aberdeen players will remain focused on ending a three-game losing streak at Dingwall tonight.
Mark Reynolds returns for the first time since dislocatiing a shoulder against Shkendija in a Europa League qualifier in early July. “It’s been horrendous. You just get so used to playing that you start taking it for granted that you are playing every week,” said Reynolds. “When that’s taken away, you realise just how lucky you actually are.
“It was great seeing the boys starting so well and breaking records. At the same time, you feel a bit left out because you want to be involved in it.”