Future of Malky Mackay under threat after Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan sidelines key assistant

Bluebirds' head scout replaced by 23-year-old friend of controversial club owner's son

Cardiff City have denied that the club's owner Vincent Tan has asked manager Malky Mackay to resign, after the owner's decision to replace the club's head of recruitment with a 23-year-old friend of his son left the Scot's future looking deeply uncertain.

Several sources have told The Independent that Tan asked Mackay to quit, during a tense meeting with senior members of club staff on Tuesday, and that the Scot - who is determined to carry on at the south Wales club - had categorically refused. But Mackay's relationship with Tan, whose unusual perspective on football leads him to believe that Cardiff were promoted to the Premier League because of the “lucky red” strip he introduced, is now deeply damaged.

The Malaysian is understood to believe that Cardiff have overspent, should be in the Premier League top four and that their start to the season - which includes victory over Manchester City - is not good enough, after his own investment of £11m plus £70m in loans.

In the most extraordinary move yet of his controversial three-year tenure, Tan has replaced Iain Moody - the club's head of recruitment, with whom Mackay first worked at Watford and to whom he is close - with 23-year-old Kazakhstani Alisher Apsalyamov. It is the clearest sign yet that the Welsh club's ascent to the Premier League under the Malaysian may be heading towards calamity.

Apsalyamov, whose experience of football appears to be limited to computer games, attended the same Swiss finishing school as Tan's own son. It is understood that his first job at the Premier League club entailed painting walls at the club's stadium. But The Independent understands that he has also been shadowing Moody in the last six months, with the general impression being that Apsalyamov's own father - a multi-millionaire - may be about to invest in a club where the 23-year-old might also play some kind of professional role.

But after working alongside Moody - who was Mackay's right-hand man - Apsalyamov was often seen watching Cardiff games on a laptop. The situation finally came to a head when Moody received a letter on Tuesday, explaining at some length why he was being removed from his position. The letter was withdrawn on Tuesday evening, when Tan received legal advice telling him that he was unable to suspend Moody. Instead, Moody has been placed on gardening leave until the end of the season.

Tan is now back in Malaysia, having taken a flight from South Wales to London at around 8pm on Tuesday with the business of putting Moody on gardening leave completed. There is a sense of astonishment in south Wales about his actions. Moody was a highly respected part of Mackay's set-up, who had been involved in a frenetic attempt to strengthen the club's squad for the Premier League. He made 47 flights in 60 days this summer and handled all negotiations, because no-one else appeared capable of doing so.

The heart of the problem seems to be Tan's feelings about Mackay, who has won the kind of affection from supporters that the proprietor has simply not been treated to in the Welsh capital. It has been clear for several months that the owner is unhappy by supporters' resistance to his high-handed ways, which include forcing the new red strip on them. “If too many fans show they are not welcoming then maybe they [should] have a new owner…,” he said this summer. “I'm disappointed that after 51 years of not being in the top flight that there are still some fans who don't think we have done a good job. I may say maybe they are not grateful...” Mackay, by contrast, is deeply revered for taking Cardiff out of the Championship.

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan celebrates his team’s promotion to the Premier League Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan celebrates his team’s promotion to the Premier League  

Tan's decision last summer to appoint his friend Simon Lim as the club's chief executive, has not won him friends at the club.

Moody, a languages graduate, worked as a Uefa-appointed interpreter for the Italian national team at Euro 96 and became a football agent before becoming a press officer at Watford during Mackay's time there. He later became the club's football operations manager.

Cardiff said today that they were “unable to comment due to the sensitivity of the issue” though privately refuted the idea of Tan demanding that Mackay should resign.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones