Former Rangers star Derek Johnstone has been left astonished by the decision to let Gers defender Jon Flanagan off with an apparent elbow during last week’s derby at Ibrox, speaking on Friday night’s Clyde 1 Superscoreboard.
Flanagan was initially yellow carded by referee Kevin Clancy for the incident in the 2-0 Gers win but cited with a two-match ban by the SFA compliance officer in the days following.
As reported by The Scottish Sun, it was later confirmed that another panel at Hampden had cleared him on appeal.
It throws the disciplinary process into something approaching chaos and pundit Derek Johnstone wasn’t impressed with the saga at all.
“We’re a laughing stock. It’s an absolute joke what’s been happening with some of the decisions. I can’t wait to hear why they’ve come to this conclusion.
“We’ve had three [refs] who looked at it and said it was a red card and then three looked and said it wasn’t. It’s a pantomime now.
“He’s lifted his arm and caught him. Maybe he’s not caught him in the face but he caught him in an aggressive manner. I thought straight away that it was a sending off. The referee is only five yards away and he’s given a yellow card.
“Three top-class refs looked at it and said, ‘That’s a red card and we’re offering you a two-game ban’.
“Another three looked at it and said, ‘You’ve got that wrong!’”
Having so many officials come to such differing conclusions on a single incident certainly doesn’t reflect well on the Scottish FA. The trust in the post-match disciplinary process this season has been completely eroded and a new way forward must surely be found.
Re-litigating decisions taken by referees on the pitch is a slippery slope to go down. It’s understandable when it comes to potential simulation or a horror tackle that was missed, but Clancy appeared to see every bit of the Flanagan/Brown incident and decided what action to take.
Perhaps it’s time for the clubs, referees and Scottish FA staff to get together and figure out how to handle discipline issues next season and beyond.