There is something decidedly rotten in the air when Neil Lennon is the only person awarded a ban in the aftermath of the shocking behaviour on display when Celtic dumped Rangers out of the Scottish Cup on March 2nd.
Bougherra manhandled the referee when he was shown a red card. Diouf showed his true colours by being red-carded for dissent after the game was over and then threw his top into the crowd. During the match he also approached the Celtic dugout and appeared to taunt Neil Lennon. Rather than accept a handshake from Lennon after the final whistle, Ally McCoist obviously said something which provoked an angry response from Lennon.
Lennon was handed a 4 match ban by the SFA. McCoist was given a 2 match ban (this being his first offence) which was lifted on appeal (curiously Lennon’s first offence resulted in a 6 match ban, reduced to 4 on appeal). Bougherra and Diouf received fines that will mean little given their wage packets and despite their shocking antics only receive the standard automatic 1 match ban for being red-carded.
And the SFA object to Paul McBride’s rather vehement assertion that they are biased?
I’m afraid to say that it looks as if bias may be what we are dealing with here. Despite Gordon Smith’s claim that he saw no evidence of bias during his tenure as SFA chief executive – not sure I can take the word of an affirmed Ranger’s man on that score. After all, a Ranger’s man would never suggest that a player should be severely punished for manhandling a referee, would he? Ah, well, there’s the rub. In 2005, when playing for Celtic, Neil Lennon was rightly banned for 3 matches for his conduct towards a ref. Now, who was surprised by the leniency of that decision at the time? Could it have been Ally McCoist? Surely not. Well what do you know, it was Ally McCoist.
When McCoist expressed his shock at the leniency shown to Neil Lennon on that occasion he also said he would expect a Rangers player to be dealt with just as severely in the same circumstances. Surely as someone who tries “to think of what’s best for Scottish football”, McCoist must now concede that Bougherra should suffer an additional ban of a match or two at least for laying his hands on the ref? Of course, I don’t expect that to happen this side of a blue moon!
So does all this mean there is a culture of bias within the SFA and Scottish football? It does look like it, I feel. At the very least, there are major inconsistencies involved. Or perhaps it is just something “embarrassing, against the rules and shameful“? Something a little like the staggering error by ref Iain Brines when Michael Duberry of St. Johnstone handled the ball inside the box not once but twice whilst Brines looked on?
After watching that clip it’s no wonder Neil Lennon is bewildered.
No wonder the rest of the footballing world no longer takes the Scottish game terribly seriously.
PS Apologies for the sweary title of the above clip – not responsible for external content and all that…