United slam SFA as Paul Paton banned for spitting

Paul Paton, left, will miss Dundee United's games against Celtic and St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
Paul Paton, left, will miss Dundee United's games against Celtic and St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
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DUNDEE United say they are “stunned” and “mystified” after Paul Paton was handed a two-match ban for spitting at Jonny Hayes – even though the Aberdeen winger backed his claims of innocence.

The Tannadice club immediately claimed they would appeal the sanction imposed by a three-strong panel, however the SFA confirmed this was not an option. A spokesperson for the governing body said: “There is no right to appeal in the fast track process, the decision is final and binding.”

Paton fouled Hayes during the Dons’ 2-0 win at Tannadice last Saturday and the Irishman reacted angrily seconds later after Paton motioned his head slightly towards his grounded opponent. But Hayes later tweeted that Paton “never spat on me”, and also “to the SFA, I’d never want to see a fellow pro being accused or found guilty of something that never happened!”

Paton was offered a two-match ban by the SFA Compliance Officer Tony McGlennan but refused it, leading to yesterday’s hearing.

United’s statement afterwards read: “The player will certainly be appealing this decision and will be given our full backing.

“We are stunned firstly that it was brought in front of the Judicial Panel by the new Compliance Officer and secondly that the Judicial Panel have found the player guilty of something that we do not believe to have taken place. It is truly mystifying that three people in a room at Hampden Park in Glasgow on a Thursday afternoon can see something that was not seen by the referee, 1st assistant, 2nd assistant, fourth official, SPFL delegate, the managers of either team, the players of either team including the alleged villain and victim, not to mention the 11,168 supporters in the stadium.

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“We studied enlarged video footage to ensure our player was not guilty of such an offence.

“We were sound in our belief that no such action had taken place and we will continue to support the player in this matter.”

BBC Alba footage shows Paton standing over Hayes and motioning his head towards him, while Hayes has his arms clasped around his head and in a position where it appeared that he could not have seen what Paton was doing.

Hayes also made one ambiguous comment on Twitter: “What happened on Saturday will stay between myself and Paul, we’ve spoke on this non-issue…”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes told the BBC last night that Hayes felt strongly that Paton had not spat at him.

“Johnny wanted to defend him. Johnny spoke to Paul Paton, and I spoke to Jackie [McNamara, Dundee United manager]. We made no complaint,” said McInnes.

Paton will now miss the game against Celtic on Sunday and the 27 December meeting with St Johnstone. In addition, a yellow card in the 2-0 defeat by Aberdeen triggers a further one-match ban that will rule him out of the Dundee derby at Tannadice on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Queen of the South defender Andy Dowie has also been given a two-match ban for stamping on Rangers midfielder Ian Black. Dowie was found guilty of “committing violent conduct at a match by deliberately standing on an opposing player’s leg”

after an incident in his team’s 2-0 win over Rangers last Friday.

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