Were Wigan right to appoint Malky Mackay?

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Yes, everyone deserves a second chance and Mackay should be no different – Alex Bowmer

The texts were neither funny nor clever, but it’s important to consider that not one player has come forward expressing reservations about the way the Scot treated them. Kim Bo-Kyung was the subject of one the infamous messages. His agent, Lee Yeung-Joong, said: ‘[Even though] Mackay had mentioned those kinds of offensive words by text, we never received any unfair treatment from him… Mackay had given a lot of consideration to the player… he has always shown warmth and confidence.’

Kim Bo-Kyung was targeted in one of Mackay's texts (Image: Planet F1)
Kim Bo-Kyung was targeted in one of Mackay’s texts
(Image: Planet F1)

Since his appointment at Wigan, Roberto Martinez and Harry Redknapp have come out and said that Mackay deserves a second chance and should not be cut adrift from the game. ‘Everyone makes mistakes’. It has become a well-worn phrase, but it is definitely true. Mackay has openly expressed regret at the texts that he sent. Hasn’t everyone made throwaway comments in private that they only intended to stay within the confines of their living room?

If you were able to find out everything people had either said or thought, then everyone would be cast in a negative light. People must be entitled to a certain degree of privacy in order to vent their views, no matter how un-PC or potentially offensive they are. If you said something which you intended to be private and your neighbour heard it, told your employer, and got you sacked as a result, would you feel aggrieved? Almost certainly, and rightly so.

The fact that technology was involved complicates the issue even further. It is generally pretty easy to judge when people are being serious or humorous when talking face-to-face, but over a text this distinction is lost. Therefore, it is misguided to judge texts if you cannot appreciate the context in which they were sent, or if you do not know the relationship between the two people involved in the interaction.

And for how long exactly do people think he deserves to be out of football? Even his staunchest critics suggest that a life ban from football would be harsh. He has made a public apology, and there comes a point when you wonder what the point is of barring him from the game. Many, including myself, would argue that the intense media scrutiny that he has faced is punishment enough.

Mackay is a very promising young manager, who has already achieved a lot in a relatively short time in the dugout. Wigan are in a precarious position in the league and it is prudent of them to appoint someone with a wealth of experience in the division. He has made a mistake and learnt valuable lessons from it. It is now time to move on.


No, Wigan are the wrong club at the wrong time for Mackay – Ste Topping

Regardless of his footballing record, Wigan Athletic have made a huge mistake in hiring Malky Mackay. It’s not a question of whether Mackay should ever manage again. It would be completely unfair to take away his right of employment on the grounds of private messages – despite the fact they were shared irresponsibly and inappropriately around the workplace – and to his credit Mackay has apologised before embarking on an educational programme on diversity.

But it’s far too soon for him to jump back into management – especially at an above-average sized club with recent Premier League experience, an FA Cup win just 18 months ago, and a chairman well known for placing more faith in his managers than most owners these days. In short, Mackay has landed a job that most of us could only dream of. And all this just three months after text-gate became public – when messages of a racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic nature deservedly tarnished Mackay’s reputation.

Emmerson Boyce captained Wigan to FA Cup glory in 2013 (Image: Zimbio)
Emmerson Boyce captained Wigan to FA Cup glory in 2013
(Image: Zimbio)

A large deal of criticism must go to the FA, who have dithered with an ongoing investigation that has taken far too long. The situation required swift, decisive action – Mackay could have received his punishment, be that a ban or a fine, and then looked for a new job knowing that he had paid the price for his actions. But of course, the FA have been as slow as usual in making a bold step. Just as we saw with the lack of action taken against Richard Scudamore’s sexist emails, the people at the top of the game are reluctant to punish their own.

What makes the affair all the more baffling is that Wigan under Dave Whelan have always been a pioneering, tolerant and progressive club. Brenda Spencer was made Chief Executive in 1995, becoming one of the first women to hold that role in English football. In the same year the club signed three players from Spain. Two became the first Spanish players to play in the FA Cup, while one later went on to manage the side to glory in the same tournament. Players from as far as Honduras, South Korea and Nigeria have donned the Latics strip in recent years, whilst two black players have been club captain in the past seven seasons – Mario Melchiot and Emmerson Boyce.

Mackay’s appointment at Wigan just doesn’t add up, and it only serves to alienate the many players, staff and supporters of the football club who belong to the groups of society he attacked. The club’s image has nose-dived over the past week and it’s easy to understand why. This is yet another symbol of the game sending out completely the wrong message.


Main image courtesy of The Mirror

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