The club, through chairman Dave Cormack and director Steve Gunn, have criticised the Scottish Football Association’s stringent adherence to the rules which has denied the midfielder an appeal of the yellow card which led to his dismissal during Saturday’s defeat to Dundee United. The card, and resulting suspension, means the 30-year-old will miss Sunday's trip to Celtic.
They say the head of the country’s referees, Crawford Allan, as well as Madden – one of the country’s foremost officials – have both recognised an error, but ‘a lack of common sense’ at Hampden means the midfielder’s suspension still stands.
It has slated the governing body, claiming power-brokers “failed to show any flexibility, considering the options they had at their disposal to right this wrong”.
Gunn said: “As we understand it, the referee and the SFA’s Head of Refereeing Operations, immediately after seeing replays of the footage, recognised that the referee had been mistakenly advised by his assistant. As a result, Funso was given a second caution.
“We don’t doubt that, had the referee been aware of the correct facts, he would have taken every step to protect Funso given the circumstances. The club fully recognises that mistakes happen.
“We are dismayed that the Scottish FA, despite their sympathy with the club and player, have not taken a common sense approach, that in this case would have been unlikely to be disputed by anyone in football. They have instead chosen to stick rigidly to the rules which prevent any meaningful discussion to remedy what we believe would have been within their discretionary powers to do so.”
The club was seeking to appeal the decision under an emergency rule amendment rather than directly overturn the card shown, but the SFA won’t change the rules mid-season.
The Dons statement said: “In AFC’s opinion, the SFA could have used their discretion to either amend the wording of the rule concerning mistaken identity to capture this rare situation or to insert a new rule to allow an appeal for a wrongful caution, which resulted in a sending off. The rule could have been drafted in a manner that only allows appeals in the rarest of circumstances.”
Chairman Cormack added: “While the SFA have been sympathetic they were not willing to take any action mid-season that would provide us with the opportunity to appeal the yellow card to the Judicial Panel. We have been advised that they will explore a rule amendment for next season, which we welcome, but which won’t help the club and Funso this time.
“In going through this process, it has been refreshing to know that Bobby Madden and the refereeing fraternity wanted to come out publicly and accept they got this decision wrong.
“A stronger relationship between clubs and referees, one where Scottish football is open to change and transparency with supporters, can only be seen as a positive step.”