Neil Lennon has accepted that he will have to contend with a disciplinary hearing but the Hibernian manager is far from happy that he will have to do it just two days before one of his side’s biggest games of the season.
The Easter Road boss has been cited to appear at Hampden on 20 April, two days before his club’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen, to answer to three charges of misconduct relating to the mass brawl at the end of his team’s recent draw with Morton. His Greenock counterpart Jim Duffy, his assistant Craig McPherson, and both clubs are also in the dock.
But while matters have moved swiftly in the case of his defender Darren McGregor, whose appeal against the red card shown to him for an alleged headbutt at the start of that fracas resulted in an announcement yesterday stating his punishment has been downgraded to a yellow card, freeing him from suspension, Lennon is angry that there will be no timeous resolution when it comes to his own alleged misdemeanours. Especially as he believes it is not the first time the protracted disciplinary process has robbed him of a cup experience.
“We are playing a team who are in as good form as Celtic at the minute,” he said. “The semi is very important for this club and if I’m not being allowed to do my job for something I feel unjustifiably punished for I will not be happy.
“I’m not happy with the date. I don’t understand why it can’t be done now, or on Monday or Tuesday. I will go and defend myself,” he added, although he stressed he will not be pleased if he still has to do that on the determined date. Instead, he is looking for the hearing to be moved, to take cognizance of the semi-final date. “I will look to get it delayed because if it’s on a Thursday before a semi-final and they deem me guilty of something – whatever that is – then I miss the semi-final. And I think that’s totally unfair. Bang out of order.
“Why is it delayed to the 20th? The players have been dealt with so why can’t we be dealt with? What more do they need to look at?
“Here’s one for you. When I was at Celtic I got sent off at Tynecastle – rightly so – in October time I think for remonstrating with Steven McLean. It was two months before Christmas but the hearing was in February or March and I ended up missing the League Cup final. I was sat in the stand against Rangers because for some reason the process took months. Why? I can’t remember the reason they gave me, it’s so long ago. But if that’s the case, we can wait until next season and do it then.”
Lennon, who was also sent to the stand against Brondby in his first competitive game at the helm at Hibs at the start of the season, and again in the recent head-to-head with Dundee United, says there has to be a greater degree of fairness.
The Leith manager was happy to have McGregor freed up to play this weekend but he is smarting from the fact that another official’s ruling initially went against his club, only to be overturned, while the ruling body appear to be reneging on a promise to come down hard on players involved in simulation.
“I was told the SFA were clamping down on conning referees and feigning injury but it doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said. “I’m not accusing this kid [Kudus Oyenuga, the Morton player whose wild tackle on Jordon Foster and subsequent allegations of a McGregor headbutt sparked the Easter Road rammy] now because he’s been cleared but I know what I saw. So I think I need to go to Specsavers because I can’t see from two yards away.
“I don’t want to dwell on it too long but, yes, of course, I’m pleased Darren got his red card rescinded. It’s totally justified. But there has to be questions asked about why he was sent off.
“The transparency is not there and I find it hard to comprehend. And you wonder why I get frustrated and you wonder why I get angry.
“That’s five red cards we’ve had this season, two from the same referee – and three rescinded, is that a record? If these things even themselves out over the next five games we’ll be playing against ten men in three of them, players who have been unjustly red carded. So I’m looking forward to that.”