Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday has been cleared of violent conduct in the controversial incident which saw him sent off following his clash with Fraser Fyvie of Hibs at Ibrox last month.
A Scottish FA disciplinary tribunal at Hampden yesterday upheld Halliday’s claim of wrongful dismissal during Rangers’ 4-2 win over their Championship title rivals on 28 December.
Halliday was shown a straight red card by referee Bobby Madden in the 70th minute of the match when he reacted angrily to a foul by Fyvie.
The 24-year-old former Livingston and Middlesbrough player aimed a kick at Fyvie before lunging towards him with his shoulder, prompting a theatrical reaction from the Hibs man who reeled backwards clutching his face which had not been struck.
Fyvie was subsequently charged by the Scottish FA of committing an act of simulation which “supported an error of judgement by the match referee that Andrew Halliday had head-butted you upon the face or head and caused the match referee to make an incorrect decision to dismiss Andrew Halliday for the offence of violent conduct.”
The charge was not contested by Hibs or Fyvie who accepted the offer of a two-match fixed suspension. Halliday’s own automatic suspension for the red card was placed on hold ahead of yesterday’s Hampden tribunal, allowing him to play and score in Rangers’ 6-0 win at Dumbarton last Saturday which maintained their three-point lead over Hibs at the top of the table.
After the hearing, the Scottish FA announced that Halliday’s red card has been reduced to a yellow card for the lesser offence of adopting a threatening and/or aggressive attitude. It leaves Halliday free to play in Rangers’ Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Cowdenbeath at Ibrox on Sunday.
In further fall-out from their match against Hibs, Rangers will discover on 19 January if they are to be punished for sectarian singing by their supporters during the game.
The chants, which have since been condemned by Rangers who stated it was “disappointing that a minority engaged in inappropriate singing”, were mentioned in the Scottish Professional Football League match delegate’s official report.
It will now be discussed by the SPFL board of directors at their next meeting on 19 January. But the absence of Fifa/Uefa style ‘strict liability’ disciplinary regulations in Scottish football means it is unlikely Rangers will face any action.
Current SPFL and SFA rules mean clubs are absolved as long as they satisfy the governing bodies they took all reasonable and practicable steps to discourage or prevent offensive behaviour.
The current SPFL board comprises chief executive Neil Doncaster, chairman Ralph Topping, Aberdeen chief executive Duncan Fraser, Celtic director Eric Riley, Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson, Raith Rovers director Eric Drysdale, Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney and Brechin City chairman Ken Ferguson.
Rangers, meanwhile, appear unlikely to advance the signings of Accrington Stanley duo Josh Windass and Matt Crooks before the end of the season.
The midfielders, both 21, have agreed pre-contract deals which will tie them to the Ibrox club until 2020. Accrington will receive only minimal training compensation fees for the players under Fifa cross-border transfer regulations but the English League Two outfit seem set to reject an offer of around £400,000 from Rangers to complete the moves during the current transfer window.
“I told them they weren’t going to leave until the end of the season and that’s still the position,” said Accrington manager John Coleman.
“I said three months ago that they were free to do what they want in January because the minute they didn’t sign the new contracts that we offered them, which were unbelievable for a club of our size, I knew they weren’t going to sign and they were going to go in the summer, so nothing’s changed.
“I’m not churlish enough to know that every player’s got his price and if a price comes that we can’t turn down, well then we don’t turn it down, but I can’t see that happening so they’ll be Accrington players until the end of the season.
“We’ve had no dialogue with anybody. We got an email off Rangers informing us very curtly that their intention was that they were going to speak to the players with a view to signing them at the end of the season, and that was it.
“It was a three-line email, and that’s all we’ve heard. But my perspective on the season hasn’t changed. They’ve only agreed to sign them at the end of the season, so it’s business as usual for me.”
Coleman also accused Windass and Crooks of being “disrespectful” towards Accrington supporters by tweeting their delighted reactions to agreeing deals with Rangers late on Wednesday night.