HEARTS head coach Robbie Nielson has been handed a two-game ban by the SFA Disciplinary panel but, in an apparent compromise, the punishment has been suspended for a year.
The Tynecastle boss appeared at Hampden today to appeal a notice of complaint issued by the Scottish FA compliance officer Tony McGlennan, who had been unhappy with comments Neilson made in the wake of a defeat by Hamilton in August.
The Championship-winning boss had criticised referee Willie Collum’s decision to send off defender Callum Paterson, an intervention which he claimed swung the game in their opponents’ favour. His outburst appeared to have been vindicated when the capital club won an appeal and Paterson’s punishment was reduced to a yellow card.
But the SFA hierarchy took exception to his revelation that he had prepared his men for the likelihood of a dismissal once he discovered who the referee would be and in serving the notice of complaint they said Neilson had “criticised the performance of the match officials in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence on their part”.
Hearts always refuted that suggestion.
The Tynecastle club issued a statement in the aftermath of the SFA verdict which said: “The Judicial panel found in favour of the Compliance Officer and subsequently Robbie was given a two-match suspension, suspended and only to take effect in the event of a further breach of Disciplinary Rule 72 before the end of season 2015/16.”