York City FC crisis: An emotional Jason McGill breaks his silence

The day in November 2015 when York City chairman Jason McGill (right) signed up Jackie McNamara as manager. Photograph: Mark Comer
6 Oct 2016 @ 5.11 pm
| Sport

These are difficult times to be a York City fan.

And when you’re chairman of the football club as well as a supporter, the challenges are all the greater.

In an emotional interview Jason McGill broke his silence today (Thursday, October 6) to explain why the club had taken the extraordinary decision to say that manager Jackie McNamara will quit on Saturday if the team fail against Braintree Town.

That followed Tuesday’s pitiful 6-1 thrashing to Guiseley, the club at the bottom of the National League. The result – which Jason described as a “capitulation” – left City without an away win in 29 games and one place above the relegation zone.

Appearing on the Jim White show on talkSPORT on Thursday (October 6), the City chairman also addressed criticisms of the manager for his actions off the pitch.

And he said: “It’s been very difficult for everybody concerned.”

On the Braintree ultimatum

Jason told listeners that he and the manager had talked on Wednesday. “We had a very emotional meeting yesterday morning, Jackie and I, away from the football club.”

That was when they decided “we needed to have this statement”.

The club statement on Jackie’s future

york-city-logo-cutout-smallFollowing a meeting with the chairman this morning, and in light of the disappointing performance and result last night, York City manager Jackie McNamara has considered his position going forward.

It has been decided that, if the team fails to gain a positive result at Braintree Town on Saturday, the York City manager will tender his resignation.

The manager will be looking for a passionate and committed reaction from the players after the capitulation at Nethermoor Park on Tuesday evening.

Jackie McNamara was “an honourable person and an individual with huge integrity,” Jason said.

“It was his idea. I’m hoping now he doesn’t have to do too much of a team talk on Saturday.

Because if any player doesn’t get motivated by the manager putting his head on the line in this way, then they don’t deserve to be in football.”

He said it was Jackie’s decision to make the statement public.

I think the decision from him is based on how he’s come to love York City.

I’d like to think it’s his respect for how I’ve supported him over this difficult time since last year to be honest, from the relegation and from the difficulties we’ve encountered this season.

We’ve had a huge turnaround of players, we’ve brought in at least 20 new players. I think he believes the football club and I deserve better. Those are his words.

He wants to get the players galvanised so we can put in a wholehearted, passionate performance on Saturday.

‘We do have feelings’

An honourable man: Jackie McNamara. Photograph: York City FC / YouTube
An honourable man: Jackie McNamara. Photograph: York City FC / YouTube

Jason McGill was at pains to point out that he and the City manager were human beings. “We have families, I have a family here in York, and I’m born and bred in York.

“I run the football club in the city that I was born in and that I love. And it’s very difficult.

“When people cast aspersions about people, and go on the internet and make comments about people – I think that they just think we don’t have feelings. And we do have feelings.”

Criticises the media

Tough times at Bootham Crescent. Photograph: YorkMix
Tough times at Bootham Crescent. Photograph: YorkMix

He also criticised the York Press for running a court story about the fact that Jackie had been fined for travelling on a train between Edinburgh and York without obtaining a ticket.

The Press, however, has said that they gave “him every opportunity to explain the offence by delaying publication of the hearing by a day”.

Jason said:

Jackie missed a train from Edinburgh down to York in which he’d bought a ticket on. He then boarded the train.

He didn’t know it was an offence to board a train without a ticket and come down to do his job at York.

He tried to pay on the train. The guard – the machine wasn’t working, he had three cards that were rejected.

They said he was trying to fare dodge. And he wasn’t fare dodging. He tried to pay, and he proved he had the means to pay, but the local media reported that he was convicted of fare dodging.

Well he wasn’t, he just boarded a train without a ticket.

He also explained why Jackie missed taking training the Monday after City lost to Barrow, and was later pictured picking up his new car, to the ire of some fans.

We play Barrow, and yes, we lose, and it was a Saturday. Jackie’s car ran out of lease on the Monday.

So Barrow is near to Scotland. He drives back home, sees his family. He picks up his new car on Monday.

And the paper reports that he’s not bothered about York City Football Club because he’s picking his new car up on Monday in Edinburgh.

But he was going home to see his family in Edinburgh, his lease runs out, he needs a car. It’s just a fact.

Jason added: “I’m sorry I’m emotional about it but that’s how I feel.”

Beaten boxer

Under pressure… manager Jackie McNamara. Photograph: YouTube
Under pressure… manager Jackie McNamara. Photograph: YouTube

The closeness between chairman and manager shone through the interview. Jackie McNamara had played for Celtic for ten years and played for his country so understood pressure, Jason told Jim White.

But recent months had taken their toll: “If I’m being honest, I looked at him yesterday and I felt that he was struggling, I have to be honest. We roused each other.

Listen to the whole interview

“I make no apologies for referencing Theodore Roosevelt in the analogy of the boxer in the ring that keeps getting battered and gets beaten, gets back up and takes another blow. And it’s easy for people outside the ring to criticise when they’re not in that position.

“We both feel that we’re in that scenario at the moment. We galvanised each other, and following that this was the outcome. Rightly or wrongly, this is where we were.”