Hearts keep appeal policy despite Boyd acquittal

Robbie Neilson: Fined Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Robbie Neilson: Fined Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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HEARTS will not reconsider their policy on disciplinary appeals, despite the similarity between incidents involving their own player Jamie Walker and Rangers’ Kris Boyd. The Tynecastle club accepted the two-match ban offered to Walker for violent conduct earlier this season, while this week Boyd was freed to carry on playing after the case against him was found not proven.

In both instances, the players were charged under rule 200 of the Scottish Football Association’s disciplinary code – “violent conduct by headbutting or attempting to headbutt an opposing player”. The similarity of the cases led to complaints that Boyd and his club were receiving preferential treatment, but yesterday Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson said the more recent verdict had not changed his view on what to do in future, and revealed that Walker had been fined as part of the club’s internal disciplinary procedure.

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“To be honest, I haven’t seen Kris’s incident to compare it with Jamie’s, so we’re only looking at Jamie’s incident,” Neilson said. “From my point of view, I looked at it when we got the ban in, and we accepted it because I think it was right.

“I think it brought the club’s name into disrepute. It was a silly incident. He made a mistake. We accepted the ban, he got fined, and it was done.

“It’s important we look after ourselves. If one of our players does it, then we accept it.”

Given that the disciplinary panels are made up of different people each time, and the evidence put forward by the clubs and SFA compliance officer differ in each case, there would have been no guarantee that Walker, like Boyd, would have got off on a “not proven” verdict. But Neilson explained that, to Hearts, such vagaries of the system were irrelevant: they thought their player was guilty as charged, so they accepted the verdict.

“We could possibly have chased ours up, but I thought ours warranted a ban. It costs £1,000 to challenge it, and for a start he did lead with the head, so it’s a waste of £1,000. The two-game ban could have been increased to three, and it’s important we look after the image of the club as well and accept it.”

Walker’s ban, like Boyd’s, arose from a match against Hibs. Boyd would have missed his club’s games against Raith Rovers and East Fife if his appeal had failed.

Meanwhile, The Foundation of Hearts has announced that its first annual general meeting will be held on Thursday 11 December at Tynecastle. Among other business, the meeting will hear the result of the election of a sixth member of the Foundation’s board of directors.

Anyone who has been a member of the group for the past three months is eligible to stand for election, and every member will have one vote. The process will be run by the Electoral Reform Society, and the successful candidate will hold office for three years. Full details are available at www.foundationofhearts.org/election