Hearts appeal against SFA's £100,000 fine for card count

HEARTS were rocked yesterday by a record fine of £100,000 having been judged to have failed in tackling their disciplinary problem.

The punishment, imposed by the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary committee and relayed to the Tynecastle club yesterday, follows the racking up of five red cards last season. It comes on the back of the previous season's total of ten red cards and 89 cautions, and which saw the club handed a 60,000 fine. This latest punishment is the seventh season in a row where the SFA disciplinary committee has seen fit to fine Hearts. It will be the last time, but only because the disciplinary committee sat on Monday for the last time ever. It is to be replaced by a judicial panel following Tuesday's historic SFA annual general meeting at Hampden.

This fact is seen as significant by Hearts, who contend that this latest fine - the largest ever handed out by the disciplinary committee - is a "last hurrah". The next biggest fine meted out was to Stirling Albion, and this sum was just 3000. In the Scottish Premier League, Kilmarnock have been hit with a warning.

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Hearts are aggrieved and have decided to appeal the fine. They will argue that the club's total of five red cards in the league last season - a sixth, shown to Eggert Jonsson against Rangers in May, was later downgraded to a yellow card - is a marked improvement on the previous season's number. In addition, one of these five red cards was generally thought to have been harshly shown to David Obua, after an incident with Charlie Mulgrew during a match last month.

"The appeal will be based on the fact that Jim Jefferies' side improved its discipline significantly in season 2010-11, its red card count slashed to just five compared to ten during the previous campaign," said a statement from Hearts last night. "The club strongly believes that the heavy fine - 40,000 of which is suspended - grossly misrepresents the improvements made, with Hearts' final season disciplinary co-efficient of 7.54 well below the previous season's co-efficient of 8.33.

"Hearts will also use in its defence the fact that the difference between the average co-efficient across the league and its final co-efficient has reduced substantially from 2.94 in season 2009-10 to 1.63 last season, demonstrating a further trend of improvement."

Hearts have been told to pay 60,000 of the fine. The other 40,000 has been suspended on the condition that there is a big improvement during the first half of next season.

Normally the SFA's disciplinary committee would sit in mid-season to assess whether or not there has been an improvement in behaviour. However, it has still to be announced how the SFA will deal with clubs who breach standards following the radical reforms approved at Tuesday's agm. But the threat of a 20,000 fine in January will remain. Hearts also face being hit with another 20,000 fine at the end of next season."Heart of Midlothian have been fined 100,000 by the Scottish FA's Disciplinary Committee for their poor disciplinary record last season," confirmed an SFA statement last night.

The committee commended a number of clubs, including Inverness Caledonian Thistle, East Fife and Cowdenbeath, for reaching a satisfactory standard of discipline during the season. Hearts, by contrast, have been fined at the end of seven consecutive campaigns for poor discipline. Their first fine of 5000 came after the 2004-05 season and the sums have risen steadily ever since.