Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor admits the reaction to Malky Mackay’s appointment as manager has taken him aback.
The former SFA performance director was confirmed as the new boss in midweek, just 48 hours after John Hughes was shown the door.
Hughes, who replaced Stuart Kettlewell in December, guided the side from four points adrift in the Premiership to 10th spot, maintaining the Dingwall club’s berth at Scottish football’s top table.
Despite Hughes being a candidate for the permanent role and being interviewed for it, MacGregor wanted to take the club to a higher level and landed his top target, Mackay.
The 49-year-old apologised in 2014 for sending text messages which were of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature while he was at Cardiff City between 2011-2013.
He faced no action after an FA investigation and the chairman wants fans to focus on the managerial skills that led Cardiff City into the Premier League and a League Cup final.
‘If the SFA employed Mackay, why can’t Ross County?’
MacGregor said: “The reaction has really surprised me. The person who doesn’t make a mistake, please hold up your hand. Give the manager a chance.
“This is something that happened eight years ago and he has been rehabilitated. People go to prison to get rehabilitated. Maybe I live a sheltered life, but you have to move on.
“I am surprised that people are still asking these questions. That line of questioning must have happened before Malky got the SFA job.
“My main message to our supporters is to please give him a chance. He would admit that his language wasn’t appropriate. It was a private exchange between him and a coach and it certainly wasn’t clever.
“He took his medicine and was found not guilty (by the FA), so why keep having a go at him?
“We brought him in to try and restructure our whole club, from the youth to the top, and I am really look forward to it.”
The Staggies chief, well aware of the outcry even before Mackay’s appointment, asks critics why his club should not employ a top head coach like Mackay when the Scottish FA thought fit to do so over a four-year period.
He said: “It wasn’t a difficult decision to go for Malky. At the press conference the other day, 60% of the talk was non-football.
“His language was not great on a text message, but, if someone examined our texts, all of us would say our language was not good at times.
“He was exonerated by the English FA, he’s been working for UEFA and FIFA and (ex-SFA chief executive) Stewart Regan did a full check for two weeks before he employed him for the Scottish FA.
“So if the governing body goes through that process and felt his rehabilitation was complete then why should a club not agree? I know how good a job he has done at the SFA.
“He took all the teams apart from the (full) national team. The SFA found him exonerated, so why should we, as a football club, be any different?
“I think we have seen in Scottish football over the last few years and I won’t name names, but there is a lot more to be questioned than this.”
Parting of ways with Hughes was ‘mutual’ says MacGregor
Fans are keen to know why Hughes was not kept on after keeping the club up, steering the group of players to a hat-trick of wins at the end of the season.
MacGregor is grateful to Hughes, but feels they needed someone else for the longer term goal.
He said: “John did a great job for us in keeping us up. As a club, we have been dragging about the bottom of the league for a few years, so something has not been right.
“We tried having an in-house team with Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson and that didn’t quite work.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the job John did here, but we are going on a three-to-five year journey. What we had been doing didn’t prove to be successful.
“The league is going to get tougher with more city clubs back, so we need to be better than St Mirren, Motherwell or Livingston. Based on the last few seasons, we felt we were not going to be better unless we make a judgement on.
“It was a mutual decision in terms of John not being with us. He was out of the game for three-and-a-half or four years and I don’t think it was a fault of his own that it didn’t work out for him at Raith Rovers.
“We got him back into management here and he has been successful and kept us up. Hopefully someone will recognise that, if they need to get a team going, then John Hughes is the man.
“I hope we have given him that chance to express himself, and I hope he gets a chance somewhere and I will give him the best reference I can.”
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