The row over referee John McKendrick’s dinner that resulted in a four-game ban for Peterhead manager Jim McInally looks to finally be over after an SFA appeal panel halved the ban on the Blue Toon boss and refunded the League 2 leaders their appeal fee.
An SFA appeal panel met on Tuesday at Hampden, but it ran out of time to make a decision after a lengthy session in which McInally pleaded his case. He had opted not to attend the initial disciplinary tribunal.
Disciplinary processes were instigated after McInally asked McKendrick and his assistants to move from a dining area at Balmoor, after a game with East Stirling on 16 November had ended in 1-1 draw with the Shire scoring a late equaliser.
McInally had asked the match officials to move as he did not want any of his players reported for any comments that may have been overheard.
When McKendrick and his colleagues were later seen still near the players, McInally repeated his request. McKendrick reported him for doing so and said he felt that the Peterhead manager had been joking when he made the initial request.
The initial disciplinary panel imposed the four-match ban, with Peterhead giving their full backing to their manager. Club officials were staggered that McInally had been banned at all.
The penalty was imposed the day after Dundee United striker Nadir Ciftci had received only a two-match ban, with one game suspended, for an incident involving an assistant referee in a Scottish League Cup tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. That decision was widely criticised by the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association and Peterhead used the two cases to back up their claim that McInally had been harshly dealt with.
The SFA contacted Peterhead yesterday morning to advise the club that their appeal had been successful in part and while unhappy at not having the slate wiped clean, McInally said: “I am still disappointed to have any suspension placed on me but we will move on. I understand that the appeals panel had a difficult job to do but it is done and dusted now and we will move on.
“I have learned a few lessons and I am sure everyone else involved has as well. I am delighted that the club are getting their appeal fee back as they backed me to the hilt.”
McInally, who has had his run-ins with the SFA in the past, added: “I have to say that the SFA compliance officer Vincent Lunny has restored some of my faith in the disciplinary process. If I have any questions about it in the future I would be more than happy to speak to him.
“However, it is now back to trying to secure promotion with Peterhead.”