Scotland’s football managers are at loggerheads with the SFA over their new disciplinary process, claiming the system is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unprofessional’.
The latest developments came on the day:
- Aberdeen called for the introduction of VAR to dispense with the need for a review panel as they remain incensed at the failure to have Mikey Devlin’s red card rescinded.
- Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke vowed to robustly fight allegations he brought the game into disrepute through his reaction to Gary Dicker’s failed appeal against being sent off last month.
- Clarke also revealed how he refused to initially accept his SFA charge – as the summons couldn’t even spell his name correctly.
- Hibs boss Neil Lennon voiced fears the reputation of Scottish football’s top flight risks being ‘ruined’ unless a solution is found.
- But the SFA hit back and insisted the change was only made after consultation with clubs, managers and players.
Scotland’s football managers are at war with the SFA over their new disciplinary process
Aberdeen remain furious that the revamped disciplinary process failed to overturn the red card shown to Devlin against Kilmarnock earlier this month.
As of this season, three former referees are tasked with deciding if an official has made a mistake – a change to the previous system which allowed the match official the option of referring an incident to the Compliance Officer if he saw fit.
Devlin was dismissed by referee Craig Thomson just five minutes into the Dons’ 2-0 home loss for tugging the shirt of Killie striker Eamonn Brophy 30 yards from goal. Despite TV evidence showing Brophy had previously pulled Devlin’s jersey, an explanation posted on the SFA website stated that Thomson had not made an ‘obvious refereeing error’.
The Devlin incident has parallels with Kilmarnock failing to have Dicker’s red card overturned for a challenge on Hearts’ winger Callumn Morrison. Widespread bemusement over those failed appeals has been compounded by a number of off-the-ball incidents which have either been ignored or downgraded.
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos had the red card he received for kicking Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna reduced to a yellow on appeal while no action was taken against his team-mate Allan McGregor for kicking out at Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer or Hearts’ Steven Naismith for doing likewise to Jonny Hayes.
In the week that Celtic keeper Craig Gordon called for the governing body to clarify the ‘clouded’ process, the SFA are believed to have written to FIFA for clarification on new International Football Board rules stating dismissals for violent conduct should be the result of ‘excessive force’ or ‘brutality’.
Now Aberdeen chiefs claim the best way to rid the system of suspicion is to follow the lead of England where the VAR system is now being trialled in league games and has been used in the League Cup.
‘Aberdeen finds the explanation provided by the SFA in relation to the Michael Devlin red card appeal unacceptable,’ the club said in a statement. ‘The club maintains its view that the player was wrongfully dismissed, that the evidence presented was a robust defence and was overwhelmingly compelling in the player’s favour.
‘In light of recent decisions taken by the SFA, the club believes it is imperative for the country’s football authorities to establish consistency and transparency in the appeal and referral process and will engage in dialogue with the SPFL in this regard to seek their assistance.
Aberdeen remain incensed at the failure to have Mikey Devlin’s red card rescinded
‘Furthermore, at a time when technology is making a significant and positive impact across sport, the club believes that the impact of the VAR system trials in the English Premier League need to be considered if stakeholders in the game are going to regain trust in the process.
‘AFC is aware that the views we have expressed are held by many who have found key appeal and referral decisions this year perplexing and want to see the governing body dealing with this proactively, with a consistent and transparent appeals process high up on the agenda.
‘Doing so would enhance the game’s integrity, greatly assist referees, improve the game for fans and, ultimately, the perception of Scottish football.’ Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes remains frustrated that the SFA has not seen sense and he added: ‘We saw how at the World Cup the VAR aided referees and gave them more confidence to make those big calls but unfortunately we don’t have that here.
‘The appeals process for me has to show more common sense. There are rules to abide by and I think you can always find ways around justifying a decision. But I think it’s the (lack of) common sense recently that has frustrated everyone.’ Killie boss Clarke found himself facing allegations he brought the game into disrepute this month after expressing his anger that the panel failed to overrule Willie Collum’s red card for Dicker’s challenge on Hearts’ winger Morrison. Clarke claimed the appeal was destined to fail as the referee had just been appointed to the Old Firm game.
And he revealed how he refused to initially accept his SFA charge – as the summons couldn’t even spell his name correctly. He accused the governing body of a lack of professionalism after spelling his first name with a ‘v’ rather than ‘ph’.
‘If you’re going to the lengths of charging someone and sending them a document of that size then the least you can do is show some respect and get their name right,’ he said.
‘I won’t use the word amateurish but certainly unprofessional.
‘I gave it back to the person who handed it to me and said: “Please inform the SFA that that’s not me” and asked them to send it back with the correct name on it.
‘It took them two goes but they eventually did it.
‘If this had been a criminal case I could have accepted it and probably got off on a technicality but I’m not a criminal – at least I don’t think I am..’ Clarke will bring legal representation to the hearing at Hampden on October 25 as the club also defends itself against the same charge on account of the fact it reproduced the manager’s prepared statement on its website.
Clarke and his club will engage the best legal counsel as they seek to clear their names. He added: ‘I stand by everything I said in my statement – no retraction.’