Wimbledon’s new manager Wally Downes have started work with an apology over Twitter posts he wrote last year.

The League One club appointed Downes, who used to play for the club, as successor to the sacked Neil Ardley, despite him sending at least one tweet that mocked football’s Rainbow Laces campaign against homophobia in sport.

Last September, while coaching in India, Downes tweeted comments appearing to mock the initiative and including the hashtag #RainbowLacesTurbans.

Football’s anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has expressed its “serious concern” over his postings.

The 57-year-old, who has now deleted his Twitter account, said: “I am very proud to be appointed as manager of a club I love dearly.

Downes rejoins a club he used to play for after coaching roles at QPR and West Ham among others (Image: EMPICS Sport)

“I apologise for my previous use of social media – my comments were meant to be humorous but on reflection they were a mistake. I am very aware of my responsibilities as Wimbledon’s manager and immensely proud to have been appointed. I am now looking forward to working flat out to help to keep the club in League One.”

In a statement released to Press Association Sport, Kick It Out said: “We have been speaking to the club over the last few days and expressed our serious concerns over some of the tweets from Wally Downes.”

Ardley’s six-year reign ended last month with Wimbledon struggling in League One (Image: EMPICS Sport)

The club addressed the matter in their statement to announce Downes’ appointment.

“During the recruitment process we became aware of some use of social media by Wally that is not consistent with our values,” the club said. “We have talked at length with Wally about this, who has accepted that these messages were ill-judged and he has assured us that they do not represent his views.

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“In the light of these discussions, we are satisfied that these do not represent Wally’s views. We have agreed a series of actions with Wally that we believe will demonstrate his commitment to the club’s values.”

Downes’ appointment will be warmly received by most Wimbledon fans as he represents a link to the club’s ‘Crazy Gang’ era in the 1980s.

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