Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis expects SFA to ignore Celtic fans’ Derek McInnes abuse

Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis doesn’t think the Scottish FA will take any action over the sectarian abuse directed at his manager, Derek McInnes, during the Dons’ Scottish Cup defeat by Celtic.

Aberdeen keeper 
Joe Lewis walks off the Hampden pitch. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis walks off the Hampden pitch. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

McInnes was sent to the stand during Aberdeen’s 3-0 loss on Sunday after gesturing to a section of the Celtic support that had chanted “sad Orange bastard” at him. In a statement yesterday, Police Scotland said: “We are aware of abuse aimed at Mr McInnes and we are carrying out an investigation.”

Although he later apologised for his reaction, McInnes said he hoped all aspects of the incident would be included in the delegate’s report and that others would also be sanctioned for what occured in a game that was watched by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell and president Alan McRae.

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But Aberdeen keeper Lewis, who described the sectarianism that blights Scottish football as a “completely alien culture” to him, is not confident that the authorities at Hampden will take any meaningful action.

“It is down to the SFA to take some action or not,” Lewis said. “Whether they will do or not… probably not. They [Maxwell and McRae] would have seen it first hand and we’ll see what is done about it, although I won’t hold my breath.”

The Suffolk born and raised 31-year-old added: “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it and I am glad I don’t understand it. It is completely alien to me.

“It is a culture that is set and it is going to be extremely hard to get rid of it. But, if action isn’t taken against it then things won’t change. Any culture change needs strong actions or things are never going to change.”

Lewis believes nothing went right for Aberdeen on Sunday. The Pittodrie side ended the semi-final encounter with nine men after Dom Ball and Lewis Ferguson were shown red cards by referee Craig Thomson, while management duo McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty were banished to the stand.

The goalkeeper questioned the first caution given to Ball, for a foul on Jonny Hayes, that resulted in the full-back’s 37th-minute dismissal after he was shown a second yellow for leaving Ryan Christie with a serious facial injury following a reckless aerial challenge.

“The referee is closer than me but I don’t think the first one is a booking,” said Lewis. “I don’t know how many tackles he had made or if there was anything worthy of a yellow card, I don’t know. The second one he is a fraction late and he has caught Ryan and it looked a nasty one, so I can see why that one has been given.

“It was very similar to when Gary Mackay-Steven was caught very late [by Dedryck Boyata] and ended up concussed and there wasn’t even a foul given for that [in December’s Betfred Cup final]. I think Dom can consider himself very unlucky to get a red card.”

Lewis offered no plea in mitigation for Ferguson over his dismissal, for an over-the-ball two-footed tackle on Tom Rogic in the 67th minute. “It was maybe the frustration,” he said.

“It was a bad tackle and he will learn from it. Hopefully he will come out a better and stronger player.

“There was no need for the boys to apologise. We win and lose as a team so there is never any need to apologise. The dressing room was hugely disappointed as you would expect, frustrated and disappointed.”

Aberdeen’s hopes of silverware for the season have now been dashed but Lewis stressed the importance of this weekend’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Kilmarnock.

The Dons are sitting in fourth place, behind Killie
on goal difference, with five games remaining.

“As disappointing as 
Sunday’s game was, no one is going to give us a freebie, no one is going to say, ‘poor lads, let’s take our foot off the pedal’,” added Lewis.

“The next game is huge and we are the ones that need to step up and make the difference and get rid of this disappointment as soon as we can and be as strong as we can and be real adults about it. Don’t sulk.

“Come Saturday it is going to be another battle and we need to be ready for it. If you are not disappointed after a game like that it is not natural but you need to be adults and get on with it and that needs to start on Saturday.”