The Breakdown Of Trust Over Cardiff City
When Vincent Tan told Malky Mackay to resign or be sacked as Cardiff City manager the verdict from the court of public opinion was clear - from the terraces of rival clubs, the media, and voices as
Tan's ultimatum, delivered as Mackay's Cardiff were defying gravity to compete in the Premier League, seemed self-destructive.
The man who thought nothing of changing the club's shirt to red after a century in blue secured his status among supporters, as perhaps the most eccentric and dangerous owner in the game.
In light of the discriminatory messages allegedly exchanged by Mackay and his wingman Iain Moody, a former Watford press officer who rose to become Cardiff's head of recruitment under the manager's patronage, the court may need to reconvene.
The exchanges are deeply unsavoury, by turns sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic. They may never have been intended for public consumption, but reveal a full set of discriminations in a handful of characters.
The messages are shocking and may yet bring sanction from the Football Association. But they are not the central issue in the breakdown of trust between Tan, Mackay and Moody.
In a statement released on his behalf, Mackay admitted writing two racially offensive messages as part of what he called "friendly banter" and apologised for any offence caused.
They only came to light because Tan and his lawyers are pursuing a far more serious set of allegations regarding the financial management of Cardiff under Mackay.
Tan said at the time of Moody's dismissal that he believed the club had overpaid to the tune of £15m on eight transfers made in 2013.
Ever since he has been trying to find out what happened to that money, convinced of deal impropriety by Moody and Mackay, both of whom deny wrongdoing.
Tan has pursued the issue to extraordinary lengths. He received a High Court civil search order, granting lawyers permission to search Moody's home and seize documents and club property, including phones and computers.
That search turned up the offensive messages.
Sources say they were not minded to reveal them to the FA until their lawyers advised they were obliged to as they concerned the conduct of football business.
Cardiff say the timing of their revelation in a Daily Mail investigation that has cost both Mackay and Moody jobs at Crystal Palace is coincidental.
The decision to send the dossier was made before Tony Pulis was sacked, and completed last week.
Coincidence or not it was terminal to Mackay and Moody's chances of a swift return to football. Palace withdrew a contract offered to Mackay and Moody resigned.
The fact neither man is currently employed in football may prevent the FA pursuing charges.
It must also consider whether it can charge them over private correspondence, having ruled it would not pursue Richard Scudamore's sexist email exchange for that reason.
The bigger question for Mackay and Moody is over their future job prospects. Tan is in no mood to let the matter rest.
Sky News understands he has not ruled out approaching the police with the case compiled by his lawyers.
Both men have previously said they have done nothing wrong, though they are yet to comment on the latest allegations.
But having lost two jobs each already, they are now fighting for their reputations.
(c) Sky News 2014