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Scottish FA ‘welcomes any input’ on criticised disciplinary protocols

Aberdeen’s Michael Devlin controversially sent off

The Scottish FA “welcomes any input from from clubs, players and managers” after criticism of its “clouded” disciplinary procedures.

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon asked for transparency after no action was taken against Rangers’ Allan McGregor for kicking out at Kristoffer Ajer.

Aberdeen and Kilmarnock are unhappy after losing appeals on behalf of Mikey Devlin and Gary Dicker respectively.

The SFA released a statement clarifying its position on Friday.

The governing body says changes introduced to its protocols this summer were discussed by “two separate working groups comprising clubs, managers and players”.

It added: “They met on numerous occasions to discuss and agree to these changes.

“In addition, our referee operations department will continue to offer the opportunity to clubs to be refreshed on the current coaching guidance given to referees and any modifications to the laws of the game in the future.”

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon and other managers attended a meeting with referees before the season started which attempted to clarify what constituted a red card, but says recent events have left bosses “confused”.

“We were satisfied at the time but then you see what has happened since – there is just confusion among the managers,” he said.

And former top official Charlie Richmond has warned referees’ decision-making could be skewed this weekend by the row surrounding the appeals process.

“You’ll be running through your mind though – is that a red card? You might err on the side of caution,” Richmond told BBC Scotland.

“This weekend, you might see a lot of refs taking their time to make decisions now.”

The SFA has this season been publishing explanations of appeal tribunal decisions, but Richmond thinks the governing body could “explain decisions better”.

“It all comes from the wording from the World Cup,” he suggested, pointing to guidelines that suggest “brutality” is required for a red card.

“If you’d said to me, explain brutality, you’re away down a different route than just saying violent conduct.”

The SFA has written to the International Football Association Board seeking clarification over what constitutes a red card.

How does the process work?

If Scottish Professional Football League clubs decide to appeal against a decision, they must prove that an obvious error has been made.

They have until 13:00 on the first working day after the match to lodge their intention to appeal, and their case must be submitted by 17:00 the next day.

The player or any other personnel cannot attend the hearings, which will be a video conference between a tribunal of trained, independent judicial panel members.

As of this season, the SFA’s compliance officer plays no part in the proceedings.

In cases of unseen offences of serious foul play and violent conduct, the match referee is no longer asked to provide a statement of opinion.

Instead the compliance officer asks a three-person panel to review whether a sending-off offence occurred. Only where all three individuals agree that a sending-off offence occurred will a notice of complaint be raised.

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