Derek McInnes has criticised Ronny Deila and Scott Brown for claiming Aleksander Tonev didn’t racially abuse Shay Logan as he believes only the players involved know what really happened.
Celtic have appealed the seven-game ban handed out to their winger after the SFA found him guilty of excessive misconduct during the game against Aberdeen at Celtic Park in September.
Celtic manager Deila claimed in the immediate aftermath of the incident that he believed Tonev’s version of what happened. Club captain Scott Brown echoed that view ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match in Romania, jumping to the defence of his team-mate and revealing the squad were behind the Bulgarian.
Even the Bulgaria FA got involved earlier this week on behalf of their international player and the Aberdeen manager said he is worried the incident will overshadow tomorrow’s Premiership match at Pittodrie.
McInnes said he can understand Deila and Brown’s desire to support their player but believes they went about it in the wrong way. Speaking ahead of Celtic’s visit, he said: “I’m not surprised that people want to defend players but it’s easy for the Bulgarian FA to defend a player from afar. Whether that is ill advised or not is another thing. Scott Brown’s comments are defending his team-mate and I get that.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
“Players will always defend their team mates but his comments and his manager’s comments to say that they know nothing was said is wrong.
“None of us know but we have tried to respect the process. I commented on it after our game at Ross County before an appeal had been lodged because I was asked about it. We didn’t make a statement as a club before the hearing as we respected the process and felt vindicated with the whole thing.
“I just want to remind you that Shay is totally innocent in all of this. We are trying to draw a line under it but while there is an appeal that can’t be the case. We are eager to get it finalised and dealt with. We thought it had been dealt with, he was found guilty of an offence. We felt Shay was vindicated with that and we support Shay wholeheartedly. Until the verdict, we have kept a dignified silence as requested. That hasn’t always been the case from Celtic.”
He added: “But there is still a lot to like about the match on Sunday and hopefully we can enjoy that. It’s obviously a factor in the game as it’s the first time we have played them since but hopefully it’s just a minor one.
“We thought we had drawn a line under it when he was found guilty of the offence but with Celtic appealing the process is ongoing. We just need to see what happens but hopefully we can concentrate on the football on Sunday because the game itself is enough to get excited about.
Despite all the controversy, Logan will definitely start this first meeting between the clubs since the incident. He has been a key factor in Aberdeen’s run of seven wins, a draw and just a single defeat since losing at Celtic Park.
McInnes has no doubts that the former Brentford right back has the mental toughness to treat this just like any other game. He added: “Shay is fine and he is a very focused boy who just wants to concentrate on the job in hand. He’s been involved in nine games since the last one against Celtic and his performances have been more than decent.
“Certainly in the last three matches in particular he has more than played his part in three clean sheets for the team. Shay just wants to move on himself and concentrate on the actual game. We fully support him and like everything else we feel as though as a club we want to show that support for him. We have tried to do that in a quiet way but make no mistake we are all fully behind him.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS