HEARTS have decided to appeal against the two-match suspension offered to Ryan Stevenson for his tackle on James McPake in last week’s Edinburgh derby.
The hearing into the appeal will be held tomorrow. And Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies has become the
latest figure to face the wrath of the SFA’s compliance officer after the veteran coach was served with a notice of complaint by Vincent Lunny last night. The 62-year-old has been offered a one-match touchline ban for an alleged breach of Disciplinary Rule 203, which includes leaving the technical area, entering the field of play, dissent and calling the match official’s integrity into question.
Stevenson’s case will be dealt with first and, if unsuccessful, the midfielder will miss his club’s first game back after the SPL’s mini-break, at Celtic on 19 January, and their League Cup semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle a week later. Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas is already suspended for the match at Celtic Park.
Hearts announced the decision to appeal in a brief article on their website which offered no other information. However, the first-half incident, in which Stevenson and Hibernian captain James McPake challenged for possession, has already been the subject of considerable comment.
McPake’s team-mate Ryan McGivern and manager Pat Fenlon were both strongly critical of Stevenson immediately after last Thursday’s goalless draw, with McGivern suggesting his opponent should have been shown a red card. “I think it was a disgusting tackle,” McGivern said.
Fenlon called it “a shocking tackle”, and added: “He had a look first before he left the ground. James has a bad gash.”
Stevenson himself insisted there had been no malice in the tackle. “It was 50-50 and the ball was there to be won,” he said. “I went in hard, but in my mind I went in fair, too. It may not look great in slow motion but my only intention was to win the ball.”
Had match referee Willie Collum penalised Stevenson at the time, Lunny could not have taken action. It was once Collum’s official report was received, confirming that he had not warned the Hearts player for the tackle, that Lunny opted to offer the two-match suspension.
The incident involving Jefferies’ relates to a tempestuous derby between the Pars and Falkirk on 26 December, an encounter which saw Dunfermline captain Jordan McMillan dismissed by referee Stephen Finnie before Blair Alston secured a last-gasp 1-0 win for the Bairns. Jefferies sarcastically applauded the officials after his side were awarded a throw-in, having felt aggrieved with previous decisions and was also perceived to have encroached on to the pitch during the contest.
Following the match, he defended himself: “I don’t accept the explanation the referee gave me, that he warned me for dissent, because I was just six inches outside my area and on the pitch a little bit. I’ve done that thousands of times before and have never been sent to the stand. Where I did show dissent was when I applauded the linesman for giving a throw-in to us, because there was an obvious one ten seconds before it when he did not give us one.
“So I sarcastically applauded but, if it’s getting down to getting sent off for that, then it is a bit petty for me.”
Jefferies has until 1pm on Friday to respond to the charge. Should he decline the compliance officer’s offer then he will face a Hampden hearing on January 24 to decide his fate.