HE HAS BEEN BRANDED a ‘Judas’ in Greenock but Ray McKinnon is adamant his shock decision to leave Morton for Falkirk was down to him chasing football silverware and nothing more.
McKinnon was named the Bairns boss on Friday night in a stunning switch just three months after he took over at Morton.
It was a move that did not go down too well at Cappielow, with chairman Crawford Rae releasing a statement with ‘a tinge or resentment’ that suggested underhand tactics from Falkirk and claimed Ton would be seeking legal advice over McKinnon’s departure.
The local newspaper, the Greenock Telegraph, was even more forceful in its reaction to the former Dundee United and Raith Rovers manager’s resignation.
The publication depicted the 48-year-old as Judas clutching his bag of 30 pieces of silver – the price the biblical character is said to have been paid to betray Jesus.
McKinnon has confessed he was startled by the force of the backlash, but insists he has no regrets over joining Falkirk.
He said: “It is certainly not the case that I spoke to Falkirk without Morton’s permission.
“I have a great relationship with Crawford Rae, I have huge respect for him as a chairman and as a human being.
“He gave me permission to come to Falkirk to hold talks and we had a very emotional conversation at 6 pm that night.
“It was a tough decision to come here and he said to me ‘good luck, sometimes you have to make tough decisions in your life.’
“Then I got sent the photo in the local paper the next day and that knocked me back a bit! But that’s life.
“I was disappointed by it, I thought it was pretty poor. Anyone who knows me and who knows the back story wouldn’t have put that in their paper.
“They are trying to get the fans onside, I know that, but I thought it was a poor shot.
“But it hasn’t affected me. If you speak to anyone I worked with – Lochee United, Brechin, Raith Rovers and Dundee United, I was loyal to everyone.
“This was a very unusual set of circumstances – you don’t think you would be offered a new job after three months.
“It’s not like it’s something I have done all the time. It happened, the chance to come here arose and I had a decision to make.”
McKinnon is sorry he was not able to address the Morton players before his exit, with the speed of events ensuring only text messages have been exchanged to pass on best wishes from both parties.
But, although he accepts causing ‘shock and hurt’, the former United, Aberdeen and Nottingham Forest midfielder believes the sacking of Alan Stubbs by St Mirren this week is proof that the managerial game rarely runs smoothly.
He added: “Margaret [Lang, the chair] at Falkirk really impressed me, I really liked the board’s vision for the club.
“I just felt that I would probably have a better opportunity to achieve my ambitions here. It was purely a football decision and that’s why I’m here.
“Loyalty goes both ways. Football is a brutal business, it’s a volatile business, and anything can happen at any time, as has just been proven in the last couple of days.
“You just have to make good decisions when they come along.
“You only get one shot at life and if you don’t make decisions you might regret it. I’m not going to regret anything in my football career.”
McKinnon is fully aware his explanations are likely to fall on deaf ears at Morton and will steel himself for an angry response when he takes his Falkirk team west to Cappielow for the league meeting between the sides of October 20.
He said: “I’ve had a brilliant response, from the office staff, backroom staff [at Morton].
“From the fans, I understand they’ll be upset, I get that. It is what it is, there’s nothing we can do.
“It’s football, the fans gave me great backing there when I was the manager and I’m sure they’re going to give me a torrid time when I go back as Falkirk manager.
“But I understand that.”