Terry Butcher stressed how relieved he is now that his disciplinary saga is at an end following partial victory in yesterday’s appeal against a two-match dug-out ban.
It means the Hibernian manager must sit in the stand for this weekend’s home fixture against St Johnstone but he has had a £1000 fine quashed.
Butcher could not decide who was happier about the quashing of the fine – him or his wife, Rita. “I can buy Rita a better Christmas present than she was getting before,” he smiled. “I can also go shopping on Saturday now. Rita will be delighted with the result of the hearing.”
Butcher was sent to the stand during a League Cup clash against Dundee United in October while manager of previous club Inverness Caledonian Thistle following an argument with Tannadice coach Darren Jackson. A one-game suspended sentence will take effect if Butcher breaches rule 203 – “misconduct at a match by failing to behave in a responsible manner” – again before the end of the season.
Although not permitted to take a seat in the dug-out, he will be expected to be present at Easter Road, so unless he plans his shopping expedition with Rita in the morning, hitting Princes Street might not be an option. Butcher intends to deliver his pre-match talk at 1:40pm, 20 minutes before he must vacate the dressing-room area and head elsewhere in the stand.
“Your work is generally done before the game anyway,” he said. “We announce the team on a Friday so the work is done.”
On a more serious note than shopping, Butcher says he is sincere in his intention never to see Vincent Lunny, the SFA’s compliance officer, ever again, or at least not in a disciplinary context. “It was a serious matter and I admitted my guilt and a breach of the rule,” he said. “I don’t ever want to see Vincent Lunny again, and he is the same with me – the feeling is mutual. [Club secretary] Gary O’Hagan and [chairman] Rod Petrie did a great job for me in terms of my defence so I am happy with that.”
Butcher revealed he had been sent a letter by a Hibs fan rebuking him for bringing the club into disrepute. “I actually got a letter from a supporter saying ‘please don’t get in trouble again’, as it’s not dignified as a Hibernian manager, and that’s quite right,” he said. “But I wasn’t Hibs manager at the time [of the offence] so my record here is still clean.
“I’ve only been up in front of the SFA twice under the new rules, and once before that. The first one was to do with a penalty decision which should have been given. I said that even a Martian holidaying in Uranus would have seen it, and they banned me for it.”
On that occasion, a Highland derby against Ross County, his assistant Maurice Malpas took charge of the side and Butcher communicated with him and coach Steve Marsella via a mobile phone. It didn’t go as smoothly as planned, although Inverness did win the match 3-1. Butcher has dismissed the idea of a runner – “have you seen how far it is from the pitch up to the stand?” he asked – so will persist with being in mobile phone contact with the bench.
“The last time, against County, I was on the phone to Steve Marsella and halfway through the first half I couldn’t get through, it was engaged,” he recalled. “His mum had phoned him during the game and he was shouting: ‘Mum, I’m at the game, get off!’ That could only happen up at Caley – I can’t get through to my own dugout because his mum’s calling. I think she was a bit upset because he hung up on her. I started a domestic row in the Marsella household…let’s hope I don’t have that problem on Saturday. Maybe we can use walkie-talkies.”
“I’m not the best of watchers to be honest,” added Butcher. “But there’s not much I can do, just get on with it. If we lose the game then it’ll be Maurice’s fault!
Malpas has a 100 per cent record managing teams at Easter Road this season having led Inverness to victory against Hibs last month. With Butcher sitting watching in the stand, just prior to his appointment as manager of the Edinburgh club, Inverness ran out easy 2-0 winners.
However information is relayed from the stand to the bench, Butcher is looking for further improvement from his team this weekend following the narrow 1-0 defeat by Celtic on their last outing. “I thought we took some small steps forward again on Saturday and we are doing that with every match, which I think is pretty good,” he said.
Now that the players have had their Christmas night – or nights – out in Manchester, Butcher expects them to fully concentrate on the busy festive period ahead. “That is what it is these days,” he said. “It is not just one night for a Christmas do, it is two or three.
“They enjoyed it judging by what they are saying and we wanted that but only if based on a good performance v Celtic to take forward into this week. Christmas is done and dusted for them now and it’s back to the reality of picking up points.”