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Malky Mackay managerial move is win-win for Wigan Athletic

To say Wigan Athletic, 9/1 chances with Coral to be relegated, have caused controversy by appointing former Cardiff City coach Malky Mackay as manager is a major understatement.

Despite the Premier League promotion on his CV, Mackay is currently the subject of an FA investigation into allegations he sent “sexist, racist and homophobic” text messages when in charge of the Welsh capital club.

Political pressure was put on the Latics, with a local MP imploring chairman Dave Whelan not to hand the reins to Mackay, but this wily football man has built in an exit strategy. Wigan could cancel the contract of their new boss, if he is found guilty of gross misconduct.

“It’s in the contract,” said Latics owner Dave Whelan. “We are protected. We have spoken to the FA. There is nothing in the pipeline. I don’t think there is anything really to investigate.

“I did ask Malky questions about the problems he has had. He was up front, he told me the absolute truth, and I totally and utterly believed what he said. We have all done things wrong, we are not all saints. He has earned the right to another chance to do what he does best, managing a football club.”

That does not mean, however, that the move to appoint Mackay has not proved divisive. Anti-racism group Kick It Out has been particularly irked by his return to management. “Wigan Athletic have disregarded the ongoing investigation being undertaken by the FA, and any potential punishment Mackay may face, by taking the decision to appoint him,” they said in a statement.

“We need to see leadership, and a respect for the processes in place, shown by football club owners to demonstrate how seriously they take tackling issues of exclusion, prejudice and discrimination. It remains to be seen if Wigan’s position is one which the FA and all of football’s so-called ‘family’ are happy with.”

Both Whelan and Kick It Out make persuasive points, so who is right? Both to a degree. Mackay has shown contrition, though. “I’m a big man,” he said. “I would ask people to judge me as they see me. I made mistakes, but I’m absolutely not racist. I hope going forward the people of Wigan see me as I am.”

All Mackay can do is get on with his job, which is first and foremost saving the Latics from the drop. If he can put a run together, with faithful retainer and midfielder Don Cowie already on the books at the DW Stadium, then a late spring surge into the play-offs could be possible. Wigan are 11/1 shots to finish in the top six.