Exclusive: Wally Downes speaks to South London Press first about controversial Twitter posts

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Wally Downes has spoken to the South London Press first after being appointed AFC Wimbledon manager – and addressed social media posts made on Twitter.

Kick It Out have lodged their “serious concerns” with the League One club over tweets which related to the legalisation of gay rights in India – where the former Dons midfielder had been coaching.

Downes, who will take charge of his first game for the South London club at home to Rochdale on Saturday, has apologised for his conduct.

He told the South London Press: “It was never, ever my intention to offend anybody. It was just a crass attempt at making a joke out of something which was a very big thing in India at the time.

“It was a very big political situation – I commented on it very tongue-in-cheek to try and take the mick out of myself. But it is clearly unacceptable and if I’ve offended people it was never the intention – at all.

“If it has, then it is only an unreserved apology that I can do. It was crass and ill-advised – I shouldn’t have done it – but hopefully I won’t be judged on a few tweets as opposed to what I have done previously.”

Asked about the condemnation which had followed his posts, Downes admitted he would be happy to open up discussion with Kick It Out.

“I’m open to speak to anybody about it,” he said. “I think I took the big step in stopping the Twitter account. As long as people understand how sorry I am about the incident then I’d like to move on from it.

“Of course I understand it [the uproar]. And I’m just more concerned about letting people see what I’m about from here on in. 

“Having worked in India for the last three years – they are wonderful people and I’ve been invited back three times – if I offended them it is certainly not my intention at all. And even anyone who is on Twitter who is offended, I wouldn’t look to offend people. It just taught me I’m not a very funny bloke and should stick to what I know – which is football.”

Downes has closed his account on the social media site.

He said: “As soon as I was aware of any interest I was concentrating on the club – studying videos. There were interviews to be done and I wanted to be focused on doing that.

“There’s no time for being on Twitter now, that’s gone.”

SEE FRIDAY’S SOUTH LONDON PRESS FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DOWNES ON TAKING THE AFC WIMBLEDON JOB.

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