Celtic set to escape SFA action over sectarian chants at Aberdeen cup semi-final

Celtic are unlikely to face any punishment over the sectarian chants Hoops fans directed at Derek McInnes at Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final clash with Aberdeen - because the club met with Green Brigade representatives ahead of the match.

Former Rangers midfielder McInnes was sent to the stands after gesturing towards the supporters who had branded him a “sad Orange b*****” as his side went down 3-0. Assistant boss Tony Docherty was also sent to the stand while midfield duo Dominic Ball and Lewis Ferguson were sent off to cap a miserable afternoon for the Dons.

McInnes said after the match that he had been wrong to react to the abuse and said he would accept the punishment, but added that he was “interested” in seeing if Celtic were disciplined for the conduct of their fans.

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McInnes said in the aftermath of the game: “I was sent off for being frustrated. And for that I apologise. I’m wrong and I’ll take my punishment. I let it go the first time. I shouldn’t. I should be better than that.

A general view of Celtic fans at the Scottish Cup semi-final with Aberdeen. Picture: SNS Group

“I’ve heard that song a hundred times aimed at me and I’ve never reacted to it so the frustration maybe from the game has played a part in that. The referee or the fourth official deemed my reaction a red card offence.

“If it is, it is, and I’ll take my punishment for that. It will be interesting to see if everybody gets punished for the incident. It’ll be in the delegates report, which is refreshing as it’s not always in their report, when they hear sectarian singing. It certainly wasn’t in the last cup final.

“But that’s not my fight. It’s for others to condemn.”

But Scottish Football Assocation Compliance Officer Clare Whyte is not expected to take action against Celtic over the incident, according to the Evening Times - because the Hoops can prove they took “all reasonably practicable steps” to prevent misconduct from their fans at the high-profile cup tie.

Derek McInnes pictured at Hampden during the cup tie. Picture: SNS Group

Celtic chiefs are understood to have met with representatives from the club’s ultras in the lead-up to the last four clash to discuss a range of topics including their conduct at matches and use of pyrotechnic devices. Smoke bombs and flares have been used at many Celtic games this term, including at Sunday’s semi-final.

The SFA will likely accept that Celtic’s meeting with the Green Brigade, along with other preventative measures, shows that the Parkhead side are “committed to ensuring a safe and family-friendly environment for spectators”.

Celtic also issued a statement earlier this week condemning the chanting, but questioning the behaviour of Aberdeen fans during the match.

“Chanting of this nature should have no place in football and we condemn this wholeheartedly. 
“We hope the authorities also take the same interest in offensive chanting directed at Celtic Football Club and our supporters at yesterday’s match and other games”, a spokesperson for the club said.

Celtic have previously taken action against their ultras, closing their safe-standing section for two matches in 2017 following flashpoints during games against Hearts and Linfield.

And earlier this month, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell was forced to issue a statement after St Mirren goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky needed treatment after a firework thrown by visiting fans landed near him during a Scottish Premiership match in Paisley.

Lawwell said: “There have a been a number of incidents across many clubs this season, with a range of items, including pyrotechnics, being thrown on to pitches.

“We need to do all we can to remove this from our game. 
“The club does not want it, our players do not want it, our manager does not want it and our supporters do not want it.”