Cardiff City scandal shows ease of turning neutrals against you

By David Alexander

Football is an emotive sport.

While the days of widespread hooliganism may be behind us and families are now far more likely to attend domestic matches together, the daily soap opera fills sports pages and dominates pub conversations.

I was a sports journalist for many years working at regional, national and international level and the moments of sport that were shaped by great drama or the exhibition of skill that took one's breath away never ceased to inspire.

But the back-biting, the empty promises and the misbehaviour by those involved in sport at the top level always provokes concern.

Regardless of how professional sport has become or how much more interest and column inches are dedicated to it, everyone involved in sport still has a responsibility to set an example to fans young and old.

Earlier this football season, there were rumours that the position of then-manager of Cardiff City, Malky Mackay, was under threat.

Cardiff's fans and neutrals were shocked, given that the manager had overseen the club's elevation to the Premier League for the first time.

Many managers had come before Mackay and failed, and the club were not doing badly given that this is their first season among the elite.

Making it public that the manager should resign or be sacked undermined the reputation of the club to anyone on the outside.

No one really knows what goes on at a football club or any other organisation behind closed doors, sporting or otherwise, apart from those who work there every day.

But when he was sacked and a new manager brought in, Mackay maintained his silence, perhaps linked to legal action taken by his governing body, the League Managers' Association, on his behalf.

Cardiff were clearly concerned about the signing of a player for £10m who has since returned to his former club and who was deemed an expensive mistake.

But issuing a statement yesterday criticising Mackay while legal action is still going on, and accusing Mackay of "careless management" was particularly ill-advised.

We would recommend that such discussions were held in private and that no statements damning others were issued. It provides easy pickings for the media although the LMA's rebuttal was perhaps understandable in the circumstances to set the record straight.

Cardiff's statements and actions have made them seem irrational and vitriolic towards a man who led them to promotion.

It's a classic cause of airing dirty linen in public.

Few neutrals will have much sympathy for them and the reputation of their Board - who after all would have had to approve any signings that seem at the root of the conflict - could not be much lower.