They are laughing at us. I am beginning to think that, in some boardroom in some part of London, behind tinted windows and a table decorated only with a bowl of untouched imperial mints, they are laughing at us; they being whoever at the League Managers Association (LMA) carefully put together their statement in defence of the comments of Malky Mackay. What other conclusion can be drawn? When the final text of that press release was approved and dispatched, it may as well have been accompanied with a collective cackle from the assembled group of male white heterosexual Gentiles. There’s just no other way that the LMA’s strategy makes sense. To state a case so boldly as this, in the face of predictable public outrage, is nothing other than a supreme power move.
A brief paragraph to bring anyone up to speed who is not aware of the story in question. The former Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay has just been reported to the Football Association for allegedly sending text messages that have been construed as offensive to gay people, black people, Asian people, Jews and women. The LMA, in the words of its website, is “the collective, representative voice of all managers from the Barclays Premier League, the Sky Bet Championship and Sky Bet Leagues 1 and 2”. As that voice, one of their key six aims is to “protect the rights and privileges of its members.” In offering such protection, they described Mackay’s messages as “letting off steam to a friend during some friendly text message banter”. The statement has been superbly dissected by two football writers, Henry Winter and Seb Stafford-Bloor (the owner of the Premier League Owl website), and you can read their analyses at @henrywinter and @premleagueowl or at the footnotes below this post.
Let’s now consider the further implications of the LMA’s statement – which reads as an expression of contempt not only for gay people, black people, Asian people, Jews and women, but for absolutely anyone who cares about them. That’s a lot of people to offend and think that you can get away with it. It’s a spectacular level of entitlement, of belief in your infallibility. The LMA seems to think, given its representation of all those managers and given all those commercial partnerships that it apparently enjoys, that its position is unassailable. It has gambled that each of its members – whose voice it after all claims to be – will agree that: “nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers” is just the kind of thing that you casually come out with when faced with the pressures of football management. It has bet that none of its members will be offended by the LMA’s dismissal of the phrase “fkn Chinkys” as “friendly banter”.
Well, that’s a big wager; and it’s a wager that will doubtless be put to the test by a range of journalists at press conferences or in private correspondence over the next few days, or as long as this news cycle lasts. One wonders, too, how the LMA’s sponsors – themselves multinational companies with diverse workforces – will view all this. And as if that wasn’t enough, the LMA has one other thing to worry about. Its statement seems to be a perfect representation of what the Macpherson report, in considering the murder of Stephen Lawrence, described as “institutional racism”. In that report, institutional racism was defined as:
“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
The LMA’s sixth and final major aim on its website – mentioned last of all, as if an afterthought – is “to encourage honourable practice, conduct and courtesy in all professional activity”. Yet its most recent pronouncement appears to be doing precisely the opposite. It may well be that this all blows over soon enough. But in their boardroom, or wherever they are, they might not be well-advised to smirk just yet.
1. Mackay messages: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2731219/Malky-Mackay-s-text-message-victims-What-said-response-followed.html
2. LMA statement on Mackay messages: http://www.leaguemanagers.com/news/news-7418.html
3. Henry Winter analysis of LMA statement: http://t.co/a5C1X1CLXx
4. Premier League Owl analysis of LMA statement:
5. LMA’s six major aims: http://www.leaguemanagers.com/about/aboutlma-2.html