Aberdeen have hit out at the SFA for failing to show any flexibility in ‘righting the wrong’ of Funso Ojo’s dismissal at Dundee United.
In an official club statement, the Dons said the club are ‘bitterly disappointed’ they were not given a right to appeal Ojo’s sending off – despite holding extended talks with the SFA.
The 30-year-old Belgian was shown a second yellow card and dismissed by referee Bobby Madden after an incident involving a fan in the 1-0 loss at Tannadice.
A 35-year-old man was charged with an alleged assault on the player following the flashpoint in the Eddie Thompson Stand at Tannadice
Aberdeen confirmed they held talks with the SFA late into Tuesday before a final decision was made, with Ojo’s suspension for Sunday’s game against Celtic at Parkhead standing.
In a club statement, the Dons also claim referee Madden and the SFA’s head of refereeing operations Crawford Allan recognised a mistake had been made in sending off Ojo.
Aberdeen claim referee Madden had been mistakenly advised by his assistant referee it was Ojo who had pushed a spectator.
More flexibility was needed from SFA
Aberdeen confirmed they did not ask for the yellow card shown to Ojo to be immediately rescinded, but instead asked for the right to appeal to the Judicial Panel under what would have to be an emergency rule amendment.
SFA rules only allow a yellow card to be rescinded in cases of mistaken identity or simulation.
Aberdeen believe the SFA should have shown more flexibility by taking steps to amend their own rules where there is ‘a genuine public interest’ to do so.
Aberdeen have been advised the SFA will explore a rule amendment for next season.
The Aberdeen FC statement reads: “Aberdeen Football Club is bitterly disappointed it has not been given a right to appeal after Funso Ojo was mistakenly sent off at the Dundee United game on Saturday November 20.
“The club believes the governing body failed to show any flexibility, considering the options they had at their disposal to right this wrong.
“AFC deliberated with the SFA late into Tuesday this week before a final decision was made.
“The club did not ask for the yellow card to be immediately rescinded, but merely asked for the right to appeal to the Judicial Panel under what would have to be an emergency rule amendment.
“The club believes that the SFA can take steps to amend their own rules and regulations where there is a genuine public interest to do so and to correct what was seen to be a miscarriage of justice.
“In AFC’s opinion, the SFA could have used their discretion to either amend the wording of the rule concerning mistaken identity to capture this rare situation or to insert a new rule to allow an appeal for a wrongful caution, which resulted in a sending off.
“The rule could have been drafted in a manner that only allows appeals in the rarest of circumstances, like Ojo’s.”
Referee admits mistake was made
Ojo received a second yellow card towards the end of the first half at Tannadice.
Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass was also red carded by Madden in the tunnel at half-time.
Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn said the Dons are dismayed that the SFA did not adopt a ‘common sense approach’ and said that, by sticking ‘rigidly’ to the rules, Scotland’s governing body prevented any meaningful discussion to overturn the dismissal and suspension.
Gunn said: “As we understand it, the referee and the SFA’s head of refereeing operations, immediately after seeing replays of the footage, recognised that the referee had been mistakenly advised by his assistant referee that it was Funso that had pushed a spectator rather than the other way around.
“As a result, Funso was given a second caution.
“Pushing a spectator is, in fact, a sending-off offence which would have given us a right of appeal.
“We don’t doubt that, had the referee been aware of the correct facts, he would have taken every step to protect Funso given the circumstances.
“The club fully recognises that mistakes happen.
“We are dismayed that the Scottish FA, despite their sympathy with the club and the player, have not taken a common sense approach, that in this case would have been unlikely to be disputed by anyone in football.
“They have instead chosen to stick rigidly to the rules which prevent any meaningful discussion to remedy this when we believe it would have been within their discretionary powers to do so.”
SFA to explore rule change… next season
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack said the club have been advised the SFA will explore a rule amendment for next season.
Cormack said: “While the SFA have been sympathetic they were not willing to take any action mid-season that would provide us with the opportunity to appeal the yellow card to the Judicial Panel.
“We have been advised that they will explore a rule amendment for next season, which we welcome, but which won’t help the club and Funso this time.
“Naturally, we are very disappointed with this outcome because we believe that discretionary powers can and should be used to address and remedy rare situations such as the one in which we found ourselves last Saturday.
“In going through this process, it has been refreshing to know that Bobby Madden and the refereeing fraternity wanted to come out publicly and accept they got this decision wrong.
“A stronger relationship between clubs and referees, one where Scottish football is open to change and transparency with supporters, can only be seen as a positive step.”