Friday, 22 August 2014

Now the LMA apology

It took an uncomfortable overnight's sleep-on-it, but now the LMA have apologized for the world's most unfortunate news release - sent concerning Malky Mackay:

P.S. Good news, they won't be commenting on Mackay again. He can relax now! 

Having to apologize for racism is modern-day career suicide
LMA RELEASE ON MALKY MACKAY

The LMA apologises for some of its wording, in its release yesterday, which was inappropriate and has been perceived to trivialise matters of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature.  That was certainly not our intention. 
It is beyond argument that any comments that are discriminatory, even used in private, are totally unacceptable.  

The LMA remains absolutely aware of our responsibility to the game and to promote and uphold the highest standards of behaviour. The LMA will not be commenting further on the allegations relating to Malky Mackay whilst the FA conducts its investigation, other than to repeat that both the LMA and Malky will be cooperating fully.

We will continue to work with all of the game's stakeholders to address the important issues of respect and discriminatory behaviour in all its forms.

ENDS

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hapless LMA excuse casual racism if you're an under pressure manager!

The LMA have issued this statement on behalf of Malky Mackay in the wake of Crystal Palace's U-turn on offering him their manager's job. 

Read for yourself, but I think they've made a howler in the third paragraph. How dare the LMA blame pressure of work or sheer number of communications to excuse prejudice. 

There IS NO excuse for prejudice or racism - at all. Period. 

The LMA will now have to issue a statement of apology for this statement of apology! Kick It Out! 

LMA STATEMENT: MALKY MACKAY

 

THE LMA wish to clarify the position in relation to recent reports and speculation regarding matters alleged to have arisen during Malky Mackay’s time at Cardiff City FC.

 

In the course of a search by the Club in early 2014 of 10,000 private text messages sent to and from another member of staff during Mr Mackay’s employment at Cardiff, in relation to other matters, it emerged that Malky had, it seems, sent a couple of one line texts that were, with the benefit of hindsight, very regrettable and disrespectful of other cultures.   These were two text messages sent in private at a time Malky felt under great pressure and when he was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter. That said, Malky believes he could and should have conducted himself better on these two isolated occasions.  The precise details need to remain private for the time being until any FA process is complete.

 

The LMA does not condone in any way any potential breach of equal opportunities laws but would also point out that out of over 10,000 text messages and 70,000 documents produced over a long period of time it may not be a complete surprise that some inappropriate comments can sometimes be made by employees, like Malky, working under great pressure in highly charged situations.  If Malky has caused any offence by these two isolated matters he would, however,  wish to sincerely apologise.  

 

Malky finds it strange that these matters were only raised with the FA and in the media now, 8 months after his employment ended and the day before he was reported as being offered the opportunity to become manager of Crystal Palace FC.  

 

Malky is also very concerned about seriously inaccurate and misleading reports of his alleged involvement in these matters in the media. It has never been alleged that he wrote any homophobic or sexist messages and he has confirmed that he did not do so.  Further, there are incorrect and damaging suggestions that he sent a whole host of offensive and unpleasant messages that are simply not true and which give a grossly distorted and unfair view of Malky’s involvement in this matter. Malky looks forward to matters being put straight in due course, following any investigation of this matter.

 

Malky cannot of course comment on the nature of any conduct or communications alleged to have been made by others.

 

Malky has said that he will be fully co-operating with any FA investigation and that he looks forward to putting the record straight thereafter.

 

ENDS

Friday, 8 August 2014

Aston Villa: no takeover imminent but a new CEO is coming

I revealed on Twitter that Aston Villa were actively looking for a new CEO, to replace the departed Paul Faulkner.

Meanwhile, my fellow Villa supporting friend, Howard Hodgson had a unique insight into why Randy Lerner changed his mind about selling the club.

So I thought, let's put a chat down on tape. Here it is!



Thursday, 31 July 2014

Football remembers Sir Bobby

It was five years ago that football lost one of its great enthusiasts. I had the privilege of interviewing Sir Bobby Robson at two very different points in his career. His influence still endures to the top of the game today: Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas are his direct disciples. Here's my affectionate personal tribute to him.

Sir Bobby Robson, who lost his long-term battle with cancer aged 76, was a good player but it was his zeal for management which really marked him out. A life truly fulfilled with success at Ipswich, England, PSV, Sporting, Porto, Barcelona and of course, Newcastle United.
During his England days.
He nurtured players to greatness from Romario to Ronaldo; from Gazza to Gary. And if that's not enough, Mourinho and Guardiola, two of the most feted coaches in the world game were cultivated by the great man.

I had the pleasure to interview Sir Bobby with both England and Newcastle. He was the man who crafted Gazza into a senior England performer despite having branded him "daft as a brush". Backing Gazza to step up to the plate was a gamble at the time, but the boss was trusting and generous with ability. He was instantly rewarded as Gazza struck twice in a 4-2 win over Czechoslovakia, the first international I covered for radio.

Sir Bobby was already of pensionable age at Newcastle; he had a great contract and with nothing to prove, the pressure was off. The job was a labour of love. His enthusiasm was so infectious, I smiled with him during our live interview on Prem Plus and he increasingly chuckled back at me. His answers were so long, I had to switch from arm to outstretched oxygen-starved arm to keep the mike under his chin!

Sir Bobby was still on the ball in his Newcastle days
Sir Bobby was famed for mix-ups. On England duty, he wished Bryan Robson a cheery "Morning Bobby!", Bryan dutifully replied "You're Bobby, I'm Bryan, boss!". At Newcastle, Shola Ameobi claimed the boss dubbed him "Carl Cort".

But a less well-known story was relayed to me by former Chelsea and Queen's Park Rangers defender, Steve Wicks.

Wicks had just completed the best season of his career at Loftus Road and had been picked for an England B international in Mexico just months before the 1986 World Cup. Bobby was still pondering the 22-man squad he was going to take to the Finals with rumours that 3 or 4 places were still up for grabs. To add tension to the B game, the boss was going to pick the last available places from the best performers. He popped down to the England dressing room before kick-off to prepare the would-be World Cup stars:
His influence still endures today
"Now, I know you might be nervous 'cos I'm here, but just do your best and good luck to each one of you!", said the England boss.

He then went round the dressing room shaking each of the player's hands with a "good luck son". He arrived at Wicks, an imposing 6 foot 2 inches tall with the physical attributes of a goalkeeper as much as the central defender he was:

"I want you to know son, that you've had a brilliant year... yes, I've monitored you all season!". Wicks couldn't believe it. It sounded like Bobby's mind was made up to take him to the World Cup even before the game had started. "Wow, thanks boss!", Wicks choked out.

"Yes son..... your save at Aston Villa was one of the best I've ever seen!"

In a classic Bobby moment, he'd mixed up Wicks with Woods. Norwich City's Chris Woods, so it was the goalkeeper not the centre-half that went to the Finals.

I've spoken with a lot of friends and fellow fans and the tributes have been no more heartfelt than that of my friend, Jamie Gould. A Geordie and lifelong Newcastle United fan, who told me this:

"It was so sad to see him decline, but he still made it to matches regardless of the difficulties. It was great that he got to manage Newcastle but he was treated terribly at the end. He was the perfect ambassador for the game - but he was more than a Toon manager, more than an England manager, more than a Barca manager. He was a great man of football generally and, moreso, a great man, a great human being. The loss is surely felt well outside the confines of the football world; even people who never met him will say, hand on heart, 'I loved Sir Bobby Robson'".