Celtic and Rangers have both expressed their determination to contest Scottish FA disciplinary proceedings instigated against them for the unsavoury scenes at the end of last Sunday’s Old Firm game.
Notices of complaint have been issued against both clubs for their part in the angry confrontation between opposing players in the immediate aftermath of Celtic’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Parkhead.
Scottish FA compliance officer Clare Whyte also issued individual notices of complaint against Celtic captain Scott Brown and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard as she sifted through the fall-out from the highly charged Premiership fixture.
Gerrard has accepted the fixed offer of a one-match touchline ban for comments he made towards referee Bobby Madden following the match. Brown, pictured, has been charged with a breach of rule 77 of the Scottish FA’s Judicial Panel Protocol, citing a failure to “act in the best interests of association football” and acting “in any manner which is improper”.
The post-match melee between several players from both teams was sparked when Rangers left-back Andy Halliday objected to Brown celebrating at the final whistle directly in front of the small group of visiting supporters. Halliday, booked during the match, was issued with a second yellow card in the tunnel afterwards for his part in the fracas.
Brown was involved in two high profile incidents during the match. Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was sent off in the first half for swinging an arm into Brown’s face after being clipped on the heels by the 33-year-old midfielder.
Rangers winger Ryan Kent later lashed out at Brown when he prevented him from retrieving the ball to restart the match after James Forrest’s 86th minute winner which stretched Celtic’s lead at the top of the Premiership to 13 points.
The incident was missed by the match officials but retrospective action was taken against Kent by the Scottish FA who offered him a two-match suspension. Rangers chose to challenge the ban but it was upheld by a fast track tribunal hearing at Hampden yesterday. Kent will now miss Rangers’ match at Motherwell on Sunday and the first of their post-split Premiership fixtures.
A Rangers spokesperson said they were “extremely disappointed by the outcome”. Gerrard had insisted still photographs made the incident appear more violent than it was. But while it is understood the tribunal accepted Kent did not strike Brown in the head or face, they saw sufficient force and intent to apply the suspension.
Brown could also face a two-match ban if he is found guilty of his charge which will be heard at a principal hearing on 2 May. Depending on the scheduling of the post-split Premiership fixtures, which will be announced today, it could mean he misses the final Old Firm match of the season at Ibrox.
Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon insisted after last Sunday’s match that the discipline of his players had been excellent and that the treatment of Brown from Rangers players was “disgraceful”. Gerrard responded by claiming Lennon was “playing the victim card”.
Maximum fines of £10,000 can be imposed on both clubs if they are found guilty at their hearings which will also be on 2 May.
“Celtic will defend these charges vigorously”, said a spokesperson for the Scottish champions, in relation to the notices of complaint against both Brown and the club.
“We will defend this charge as robustly as possible,” said a Rangers spokesperson in relation to their alleged breach of Rule 204 which details “where three or more players and/or members of team staff from one team are involved in a confrontation with opposing players and/or members of team staff of the opposing team during and/or directly after a match”.