Lee Johnson accused of 'encouraging Hibs players to cheat' over Ryan Porteous comments

Hibs manager Lee Johnson has been accused of encouraging his players to cheat by two former SPFL referees following comments made in the wake of the 3-1 win over Aberdeen.

Steve Conroy and Des Roache, who have both officiated multiple matches in the Scottish league, gave their views on the Get Involved Referee podcast as part of a discussion around the penalty incident awarded to Hibs and subsequent red card for Dons defender Liam Scales shortly before half-time.

Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin said afterwards that Hibs defender Ryan Portegous was guilty of ‘blatant cheating’ and the former whistlers appeared to agree, accusing the Hibs defender of instigating the foul and conning the referee, and Johnson of condoning cheating.

Roache said: “Porteous is the gift that keeps on giving – we’d be out of a job if it wasn’t for him.

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"My interpretation was that Porteous was the one who instigated the whole scenario. He was clearly pulling and grabbing Scales’ jersey and then moved into a headlock as the movement progressed.

"As Porteous is falling you can see Scales has his hands up saying, ‘I’ve not got a touch of him’.

"However, his manager is condoning it. In his post-match interview he said that ‘good play forced the sending-off’.

"I think that’s got to be looked at – a manager saying he’s condoning it, encouraging his players to get another player sent off.

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Hibs manager Lee Johnson applauds the home fans after the 3-1 win over Aberdeen. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

"Take it back to the bones, that’s cheating. And [Johnson] is condoning cheating.”

Both Conroy and Roache agreed that referee David Dickinson got the decision wrong – but claimed he had been fooled into giving the penalty and sending off Scales.

"I know there’s contact in the box all the time but I don’t think it was a penalty,” Roache added.

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"The referee unfortunately got that one wrong but Porteous was in the wrong and the manager’s even worse in my opinion.”

Conroy added: “It goes a step beyond condoning. By those comments, Johnson is encouraging cheating. Let’s not kid ourselves, it was cheating and Johnson is praising Porteous for it by coming out and talking about it.

"I don’t understand for a second how the SFA do their business but from what’s happened this weekend, Johnson could get away with saying he encourages his players to cheat and Goodwin could be hauled up in front of the beaks for saying that Porteous conned the referee.

"I wish David had taken heed of the joke Goodwin had with him beforehand but although the referee got it wrong, he got it wrong because he was totally cheated into making that decision. It’s not one that the lino or fourth official could help with, they couldn’t see it.

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"David was cheated. The course of events – the choreography – to me, is practiced.

“Johnson has come out and said he encourages his players to cheat – surely to God [the SFA] have some kind of common sense up there.

"You can’t come out and say, ‘my team are encouraged to cheat, I want them to practice that’.

“It’s neon lights: Hibs encourage you to cheat. Somebody has to come out and take him in hand for that."

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