Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke has revealed that he is so incensed at being charged by the Scottish FA with bringing the game into disrepute that he and the Ayrshire club will have their lawyers present when their cases are heard at Hampden next month.
Clarke has been summoned to appear on 25 October after he claimed that the disciplinary tribunal which reviewed the red card Killie midfielder Gary Dicker had been shown last month against Hearts had been “prejudged”. Dicker was sent off for a tackle on Callumn Morrison.
The Rugby Park manager read a statement which said that the appeal was destined to fail because the referee who dismissed Dicker was Willie Collum, who had just been awarded the following weekend’s Celtic-Rangers match. Clarke’s statement was posted on the club’s official website, which has led to Kilmarnock also being hit with a disrepute charge. But Clarke stressed that neither he nor the club will be cowed.
“Myself and the club will have legal representation,” he said. “I think the charges are serious enough for that. We can lighten the mood in here when we talk about it but these are serious charges; I don’t like being told that I’ve brought the game into disrepute when I look at a statement and see nothing wrong with it.
“There will be no retractions on my part. Like I say, this is serious and we’ll be treating it accordingly. I don’t know what the SFA is like when it comes to hearings but in England 99 per cent of people who have one are found guilty.
“It’s nice to have the chance to state my case and it’ll be equally nice for them to explain to me why I’ve been charged with bringing the game into disrepute because I just don’t see what I’ve done.
“They cite the relevant rules but, inside them, there are five or six possibilities which could be attached to the charge.
“I stand by everything I said in my statement – no retraction – so I look forward to the hearing.”
Clarke yesterday also branded the SFA “disrespectful” and “unprofessional” after they spelled his name wrongly on the official charge sheet, writing Steven rather than his correct spelling of Stephen.
“If you’re going to the lengths of charging someone and sending them a document of that size then the least you can do is show some respect and get their name right,” Clarke said. “I won’t use the word amateurish but it’s certainly unprofessional.”
Clarke disclosed that when the SFA delivered his summons, he declined to accept it. “I gave it back to the person who handed it to me and said: ‘Please inform the SFA that that’s not me’ and asked them to send it back with the correct name on it,” he said. “It took them two goes but they eventually did it. If this had been a criminal case I could have accepted it and probably got off on a technicality but I’m not a criminal – at least I don’t think I am.
“This is part of the process but the biggest disappointment for me is that the club has been charged because they don’t deserve to be. They’ve done nothing wrong. “
The SFA has been widely criticised this season but the association stressed yesterday that the recent changes to its disciplinary process were made after full consultation with clubs.
Rangers controversially won a red card appeal after Alfredo Morelos kicked out at Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna, while there was surprise in some quarters when Hearts’ Steven Naismith and Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor got off with kicking out at opponents following retrospective reviews.
An SFA statement read: “The overall changes introduced this summer were the subject of discussion and input from two separate working groups comprising representatives from across Scottish football, including clubs, managers and players who met on numerous occasions to discuss and agree to these changes to the protocol.
“We are always open to making the system more transparent.”