League Managers' Association head Richard Bevan gave 'reprehensible' defence of former manager's racist messages
The chief executive of the League Managers' Association (LMA), Richard Bevan, was under increasing pressure to resign on Friday evening after the organisation was accused of trivialising a series of racist and homophobic texts by the former Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay.
The LMA was forced to retract a statement issued on Thursday evening which suggested that Mackay "was letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter".
It emerged this week that Mackay, who managed Cardiff City until he was forced to resign after a dispute with its owner, Vincent Tan, sent homophobic and racist texts to players and staff at the club and exchanged more sexist, homophobic and racist emails and texts with the club's former technical director, Iain Moody.
Tan sent the FA a dossier of the texts and emails sent between Moody and Mackay, as well as information about alleged overspending in the transfer market by the pair. An investigation into allegations of serious misconduct by Mackay and Moody has been launched.
Following a wave of criticism in response to the text messages, Mackay apologised, saying they were "completely unacceptable, inappropriate" and that there was "no excuse for that".
"I did it in a period where I was under immense pressure and stress in terms of the relationships that were possibly not going too well at my football club at the time," he said. "But that doesn't excuse anything and was unacceptable.
"I'm a manager, I'm a leader of people and it should not have happened. But before all that and foremost, I'm a human being and I made a mistake."
Cardiff City called for Bevan to resign in the wake of what they called an "entirely reprehensible" statement issued by the LMA, which was drawn into the scandal after being accused of misjudging the seriousness of the situation. In a statement it said the former manager, who had been favourite to take over as manager at Crystal Palace before his name was struck from the list of contenders on Thursday, had "sent a couple of one-line texts that were, with the benefit of hindsight, very regrettable and disrespectful of other cultures".
It added: "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."
Broadcaster and former footballer Stan Collymore tweeted that the LMA statement was "disgraceful", accusing it of "institutional acceptance of the 'banter' of casual racism", while Piara Powar, executive director of the Football Against Racism in Europe, tweeted: "The LMA defending the indefensible. Why would you put out something so utterly ridiculous? Because you haven't a clue."
Women in Football issued a statement which said 66% of women working in football had witnessed sexism in their workplace: "In 2014 it should not be acceptable to make bigoted comments in the football workplace, irrespective of whether these are made publicly or privately."
The LMA statement was removed from its website on Friday, and it said: "Some of the wording was inappropriate and has been perceived to trivialise matters of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature." But Cardiff City continued to call for the resignation of the Bevan, calling his position untenable. It accused the LMA of being "complicit" in attempting to cover up the offensive messages. It also stated that the dossier contained "many more than the two isolated texts acknowledged by Mr Mackay".
The statement added that the LMA's own code of conduct required that a manager should "not use racist or other discriminatory language" and "should demonstrate to players and other employees under his control that discrimination in any form is unacceptable." It added: "We therefore find it entirely reprehensible that the LMA should itself put out a statement which seeks to dismiss deeply offensive racist comments as 'friendly banter'. If that is the view held by the LMA, as appears from its statement, we consider that Richard Bevan's position is untenable and we call for his resignation."
QPR boss Harry Redknapp got involved in the row when he defended Mackay.
Redknapp said: "I'm not condoning what he has done but show me someone who has never made a mistake and I will show you a liar. He hasn't murdered anyone, he hasn't raped anyone and he is not a paedophile."
Redknapp added: "People get second chances in life who have committed bad crimes – he has made a mistake but we aren't going to hang him for it are we?
"Hopefully he will learn from what he has done but everyone does the tweeting and texting. I don't send text messages, but I do receive them with sick jokes. I don't read them, they make me ill.
"He is a good person underneath all that and I hope he comes back, I can't feel how he must be suffering for the big mistake he has made."
Redknapp's comments drew scorn from anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out, whose education and development manager, Troy Townsend, said: "What he has said has no benefit at all. I don't know what is in Harry's head when he is saying that. "What Harry has said shows a lack of understanding about the situation. These are really sensitive issues and you have to respect the reasons behind them. He's almost saying 'it ain't that bad is it?', but unfortunately for some people, it is."