Malky Mackay allegations: It took an outsider to expose football’s odious lad culture

Vincent Tan has done a service but this cancer does not stop with former manager Malky Mackay

Cold? Vincent Tan has had this dish in the freezer, topped with razor blades. Widely vilified by Cardiff supporters, who blamed the inscrutable foreign owner for the departure of their beloved Malky Mackay and the relegation that followed, Tan has been itching to serve this house special at football’s high table.

Yet one man’s revenge is the least of the tawdry tale that Tan exposes. It has taken the moral sword of a despised ogre, dismissed as a capitalistic football prospector, to clean up a mess that lays bare the dark soul and lad culture that still infects the game.

Questionable transfer dealings, the breach of FA regulations over the “spygate” team sheet and an apparent mountain of text traffic tattooed with casual racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and sexism are today reported to be all over the work of Mackay and his cohorts – though Mackay says never wrote any sexist or homophobic messages.

Tan would have done the game a service in bringing this to light, but it would be madness to think this cancer stops at the Stone Age doors of Mackay and Iain Moody, kicked out of Cardiff by Tan last season only to find a loving home at Selhurst Park.

After the rupture in the management structure of Crystal Palace, which led to Moody’s resignation as sporting director today, we know how this world turned. From the dossier of texts and emails numbering in excess of 170,000 and other material presented to the FA by Cardiff’s lawyers, we learn about the prehistoric attitudes that informed those making the club’s transfer deals.

This stuff is reported to have been garnered in a dawn raid on the London home of Moody by lawyers Mishcon de Reya acting on behalf of Cardiff via a High Court order. The removal of Moody as head of recruitment at Cardiff last October set in motion a remarkable chain of events that also cost Mackay his job as manager 10 weeks later.

The knock at Moody’s door at first light last March was part of a £750,000 investigation launched by Cardiff into the club’s transfer activity under Mackay. Eight transfers are under scrutiny. Bound by FA rules under the umbrella of “aggravated misconduct” regarding communications, Cardiff were compelled to alert the FA to the presence of the emails unearthed.

It is believed both Mackay, who launched a £7.5m legal claim against Tan after his sacking in December, and Moody understood that the emails and texts had been passed on to Cardiff. Two months later in May, Mackay said he was no longer in dispute with his old club and spoke of his nemesis in revised terms.

“I have reached a settlement agreement dropping all claims I have made against Cardiff City Football Club. The club’s owner, Mr Vincent Tan, invested heavily in the club and supported our decisions in our push for promotion to the Premier League. Without him this would not have been possible. If I have caused any offence to anyone during this time, especially to Vincent Tan, then I apologise without reservation.”

Now we know why. The low lights that emerge from their discoveries, if the allegations are accepted or proven, are rightly ruinous for Mackay and Moody. If the game is to purge the accompanying stench then this grim episode should not be taken in isolation but as representative of the way the minds of some in football, and yes at the very top, still work. Mackay and Moody will then not just be the perpetrators of objectionable views but the product of a culture that tolerates them.

The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, must find the sexist text allegations uncomfortable reading after the early summer disclosures that identified his liking for sexist slap and tickle via the ether.

The Cardiff collection apparently produced this text to a player with a female agent: “I hope she’s looking after your needs. I bet you’d love a bounce on her falsies.” And this about an official at another club: “He’s a snake, a gay snake. Not to be trusted”.

The half-witted texts failed to distinguish between South Korea and China in this beauty after the signing of Kim Bo-kyung: “Fkn chinkys. Fk it. There’s enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go around.” What’s in a country, eh boys?” And this enlightened reference to football agent Phil Smith: “Go on, fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.” Regrettably there was more, heaps of the stuff, for the exposure of which Tan deserves our appreciation and an apology from all those who held him responsible for the unravelling of Cardiff’s Premier League dream.

There was always something uncomfortable, racist even, some might say about the easy condemnation of Tan and the uncritical acceptance of Mackay’s version of events.

Sure, Tan did not help himself with the unsympathetic imposition of red over blue in the Cardiff kit switch, dismissing a century-old tradition and the deep attachment of supporters to the Bluebird ethos. And yes, he is a moneybags collector who saw not a football club but a trinket that gave him a pass to the upper echelons of the game. But in acquiring Cardiff he broke no law and offended no principle in the market economy that governs the beautiful game.

In May after Cardiff’s relegation Tan spoke through a tongue tied by the investigation we now know all about to hint at the trouble ahead and to give some justification for his actions. “The hero of the fans. They should ask why he apologises? They should find out from him. Legally, I’m not supposed to say. I wish I could.

“Ask him why he apologises, who thinks I did so much injustice to him. This great hero almost killed this club. I’m not enjoying this but I have responsibility. My family members think I should just sell and get out. But sometimes you get into something and you have to go through it and take it to a good ending.”

Well said, Vincent, an unlikely hero purging football of its sinister underbelly.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace