Celtic’s legal advisor has slammed the Scottish Football Association for being “biased” towards rival club Rangers.
Paul McBride QC made the claim after Rangers assistant Ally McCoist won his appeal against a touchline ban, and Rangers players Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf avoided bans for misconduct after a fiery clash against their Old Firm rivals last month.
The charges relate to Rangers’ 1-0 loss to Celtic on March 2 in a Scottish Cup fifth-round replay in which Bougherra and Diouf were sent off.
Bougherra tried to grab the referee’s arm to stop him from issuing cards, while Diouf was sent off for dissent after the final whistle.
McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon were involved in an ugly spat after the game, exchanging heated words before they had to be separated.
Lennon received a four match ban for his part in the incident, and McBride, who represented the Celtic boss at his appeal hearing, said it was “dishonest” of the SFA not to suspend the Rangers trio.
“The SFA are tonight officially the laughing stock of world football and they have been shown to be not merely dysfunctional and not merely dishonest but biased,” McBride told the BBC.
“Because McCoist, who undoubtedly said something that provoked a reaction from Neil Lennon that caused a four-match ban for him, has received no punishment at all.”
“We know that Bougherra, who man-handled the referee not once but twice, doesn’t get a ban.”
“We know that El-Hadji Diouf who is involved in an altercation in the tunnel with a Celtic physiotherapist refuses to leave the park and, given a red card and throws his top into the crowd against police advice isn’t given a ban either.”
“What is any sensible person to think of that set of affairs?”
“Frankly, anybody with the tiniest brain could only regard them as being biased and prejudiced.”
Lennon said McBride was merely voicing his opinion on the matter, although the Celtic boss – who returned to the dugout in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park – found it odd he was the only one in the whole affair to be banned.
“I don’t think Paul was speaking on behalf of the club,” Lennon said. “That was his opinion and I value his opinion obviously, but he is not speaking on behalf of myself or the club.”
“I don’t want to make any more comment because I will end up in the stand or have a heavy fine.”
“But if you think it is fair then a lot of people are burying their head in the sand on this one.”
“I find it interesting that, after all the fall-out from that game, I am the only one who has been banned.”
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