In conversation with new CEO Dave MacKinnon

New Morton chief executive Dave MacKinnon says that it was his long-standing relationship with the Rae family that saw him accept a return to football.

A former footballer with Arsenal, Rangers, and Kilmarnock who has been responsible for off-field operations at Dundee, Kilmarnock, Clyde, and Hamilton, the 62-year-old was appointed as the club’s CEO yesterday.

MacKinnon revealed that late former chairman Douglas Rae OBE would often send him hand-written letters to congratulate him during his playing days.

And it was this connection combined with his regard for current chairman Crawford Rae that tempted him to return to the game after a period concentrating on personal projects.

MacKinnon told “I was contacted about the position by Crawford Rae, whom I’ve known for many, many years. I also had a great association with his father Douglas.

“He used to write me lovely hand-written letters in wonderful writing at every club I moved to, saying I was a credit to Scottish football. He was a true gentleman and I had a great respect for him.

“After receiving contact from Crawford on Sunday, I then met with him on Monday and he explained the situation at the club.

“I was absolutely delighted to get involved, because one thing I know about Crawford is that, like his father, he has great honesty and integrity, and a great affection for Morton Football Club.

“Anyone who has those qualities and gives the support to the club that he has done is someone I would be very, very happy to work with.”

Another important question that MacKinnon had to consider before accepting the offer was whether or not he felt he was the correct man to help the board achieve their ambitions.

He explained: “With any club that I’ve worked at as a chief executive or a director, the first thing I ask myself is can I add value to it? Because there is no sense in going to a club if that’s not the case. That’s a key thing for me.

“Crawford explained where they were hoping to take the club, and upon hearing his plans, I knew that I could add value here. That was the principal reason why I decided to accept his kind offer and come on board.

“During the last six years of my career I was forced to go part-time after suffering a bad knee injury at Rangers – so I had to find employment.

“I worked for Tennent’s for 12 years and received a great education there. I was then involved in a lot of commercially-driven activities, and invested in a company involved with 44 pubs and hotels which was sold.

“I then got back involved in football and became commercial director at Clyde for a time before I was appointed chief executive at Kilmarnock and then Dundee. So I understand the full business: the dressing room and the board room.

“In business you can either cut costs or improve the revenue. I’ve always been a great believer in building business, and it’s up to me to try and bring in extra revenue and that’s something I’ll be doing.

“I’ve got big contacts and I’ve already been on the phone to some of them to bring in extra revenues from sponsorship.”

After a turbulent weekend in which the league season concluded and the management team of Jonatan Johansson and Peter Houston resigned from their posts, MacKinnon faces a busy start to life with the Ton.

However, the motivated former defender is embracing the challenge, identifying the recruitment of a new manager as the most pressing matter, stating: “The main priority is getting a manager in; that’s imperative.

“So Crawford and I will have to do that very quickly, looking at applications and the options for us, and next week is the target for making an appointment.

“We have established the kind of individual we need to take the club forward and it’s just about finding the right fit, a person who embodies the characteristics we have identified.

“We need someone who appreciates budgets. We are still to finalise the budget, and Crawford and I have not discussed it at length, but by all accounts, there may be a reduced budget.

“It has to be someone who’s used to shaping and forming teams to get the best out of them, to mixing young players with experienced players and produce a team that entertains the fans and really play for the jersey.”

Although the majority of last season’s first-team playing squad are out of contract this summer, he says that will be a matter reserved for the new manager once appointed.

MacKinnon explained: “Obviously I have the contracts of the players which I’m looking through, but the only person who can make a decision on who’s remaining at the club or who we are bringing in is the manager.

“So that is another reason why it is a priority to get someone in very, very quickly; it’s not fair on the players not letting them know exactly what their futures are. I’ve been in that position and it’s not nice.”

Despite having never been involved with the club prior to his appointment, MacKinnon has an understanding of the area and the importance of the local team having been a Gourock resident for many years.

He concluded: “I live in the wonderful Gourock. I was actually born in Glasgow and brought up in Renfrew and moved down to play for Arsenal when I was 16.

“However, my wife is from Gourock and she persuaded me one day to come down and have a look. I had never really been to visit before. I knew Davie Provan relatively well and he would extol the virtues of Gourock.

“Then, when I went down, I fell in love with it. It’s a wonderful place with lovely people and great facilities. It’s probably one of the unsung places in Scotland, somewhere that doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

“A big thing is to create a positivity. That goes for the club too. It’s the big thing. I will be aware of the negatives and the housekeeping, but I’ll be acutely aware of, and concentrating on, the positives.

“And in the couple of days I’ve been around the club, I can already see there is a huge amount to be positive and optimistic about.”


Image: Jonathan Mitchell