DUNDEE United face being without Nadir Ciftci for longer than this weekend’s League Cup final after confirmation that the already-suspended striker has been cited by the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer following Sunday’s fiery 1-1 Scottish Cup draw with Celtic.
Ciftci has fallen foul once more of the authorities, who have issued him with a notice of complaint and the offer of a two-game ban after the Turkish player was accused of kicking Celtic skipper Scott Brown in the head.
The Tannadice club will decide today whether to accept or reject the offer, which would consist of an immediate one-match ban, irrespective of competition, and another to be served in the Scottish Cup.
It means Cifcti is at risk of missing out on next week’s Scottish Cup replay as well as this Sunday’s League Cup final, also against Celtic. He could also miss the Scottish Cup semi-final if United progress next Wednesday night. But there was some good news for the Tannadice club after confirmation Calum Butcher and Aidan Connolly have not been cited for separate incidents on Sunday, which prompted an angry reaction from Celtic last night.
United had feared retrospective action being taken with regard to Butcher for his part in the clash that followed the flash-point between Brown and Ciftci. Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk was red-carded after he was judged to have stamped on Butcher, while Paul Paton, the United midfielder, was also red carded, after being mistaken for Butcher. However, Butcher has not been cited due to the rule permitting the compliance officer to only take action over incidents not seen by the referee who, in this case, was Craig Thomson.
Celtic described the decision not to punish Butcher as “illogical and fundamentally unfair” as relations between the two clubs continue to sour after only the first of four successive meetings in three different competitions.
United and Celtic have appealed the red cards shown to Paton and van Dijk respectively. These appeals will be heard at Hampden tomorrow and, if successful, both players could still appear in Sunday’s final.
United striker Connolly is also free to appear after he escaped being cited by the compliance officer for what Celtic manager Ronny Deila insisted was a dive to win the penalty that saw United take the lead on Sunday.
Deila was particularly eager to see the compliance officer look at that incident again since Celtic player Derek Boerrigter was handed a two-match ban for simulation during a match against St Johnstone in August.
“It is a dive and, hopefully, it will be the same rules for everybody,” said Deila. This hope has proved forlorn and Celtic have been angered further after Butcher escaped action.
“Celtic Football Club notes that no action appears to have been taken in relation to Calum Butcher of Dundee United,” said an official statement.
“It seems completely illogical and fundamentally unfair that, in an incident where mistaken identity has been claimed, the Dundee United player now identified clearly as being involved in the incident appears to have no case to answer – and would be available to play in the League Cup final and the Scottish Cup replay between the two teams – while Celtic’s player [Van Dijk] may potentially miss both of those matches.
“Celtic Football Club and Virgil van Dijk maintain their position that no red card offence was committed by Virgil,” continued the statement. “Virgil will appear at Hampden to put his case on Thursday and we will fully support him in this appeal.”
Brown stressed on Monday he was confident about escaping being cited and this was duly borne out by the news only Ciftci, who is already suspended for Sunday’s League Cup final after picking up two bookings earlier in the competition, has been issued with a notice of complaint.
Compliance officer Tony McGlennan alleged that Ciftci “committed an act of Violent Conduct and deliberately kicked an opposing player, Scott Brown of Celtic FC, upon the head” in an incident that took place early in the game.
As he predicted, Brown was not cited for the original challenge on Cifcti that saw the Turk react, while Connolly has also avoided being cited and can now look forward to this weekend’s showpiece occasion along with United Callum Morris, who is confident he will have recovered from injury to appear.
Morris scored the equaliser in the 2-1 semi-final win over Aberdeen that got United to the final and he is desperate to be involved this weekend.
However, he has not featured since 14 February when he tore a thigh muscle in the defeat to Kilmarnock and his absence would disappoint a party of over 50 of his friends and family who are heading to Hampden, with one uncle even making the journey from Japan.
Describing his fitness as “good, very good”, the defender is hopeful of being named in the side as the Morris clan, including uncle Ed from the far east, descend on Hampden.
“My mates have put on a coach from Newcastle so there is a fair few coming up and I have family flying in from various places,” he said. “It is not like Geordies – we are quite a quiet bunch normally.
“I think the furthest will be my uncle Ed, who is flying in from Japan. I suppose it is a massive occasion and it is the first time I have been involved in such a big game – they are all looking forward to it as much as I am.”