Evening Express

Aberdeen legend Harper: Let ex-players helm SFA judicial panel instead of referees after Devlin howler

Aberdeen's Michael Devlin, left, is sent off by referee Craig Thomson.

Dons legend Joe Harper today called for ex-pro footballers to make the call on SFA red card appeals – and for referees to be demoted for any howler.

Harper was shocked the Dons’ appeal for the red card shown to Mikey Devlin was thrown out by an SFA panel while Rangers’ keeper Allan McGregor dodged any sanction for a kick-out.

Referee Craig Thomson dismissed Devlin four minutes into the Reds’ 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock for what he deemed a last-man challenge to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. Devlin will serve a one-game ban. The incident was 40 yards out and Shay Logan was moving across to make a challenge.

A three-man panel of ex grade-one officials failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether McGregor’s kick to Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer should be referred for Fast Track Proceedings.

Harper, pictured, said: “The red card for Devlin was ridiculous. It happened 40 yards from goal and they were holding each other’s shirts.

“That red should have been overturned yet the SFA have let it stand and he is hit with a ban.

“Devlin now misses an important game against St Johnstone when Aberdeen already have players out through injury.

“Meanwhile, McGregor gets away scot-free with a blatant kick-out which is absolutely unbelievable.

“It is baffling that three former officials can look at the McGregor incident and not agree it was a red card offence. The decision to uphold Devlin’s red and not take any action on McGregor is shocking.

“Then you add in the fact the SFA recently rescinded the red card given to Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos for kicking out at Scott McKenna off the ball.

“These decisions are giving out the wrong message. We need to have former professionals making these key decisions and not ex-referees.”

An Aberdeen FC statement claimed the club were “extremely disappointed” with the outcome of the Devlin appeal.

Harper said: “Fans will stop going to games because there are too many bad mistakes by referees which are being made worse by the SFA.

“There is also no comeback for referees who make bad mistakes. If referees make bad mistakes they should be relegated to the bottom divisions and do six games there to prove they are good enough before returning.”

Analysis

Evening Express chief football writer Sean Wallace

The SFA have let Scottish football down and set a dangerous precedent with recent decisions by their fast track review system.

Scottish football has now entered murky territory where blatant kick-outs at opponents are now apparently acceptable.

And where players are hammered for innocuous and even fair challenges.

Welcome to the bizarre world of Scottish football.

A world where Aberdeen’s Mikey Devlin has an appeal for a red card and ban thrown out for winning a 50-50 challenge 40 yards from goal.

Where Kilmarnock’s appeal for a red shown to Gary Dicker for a fair challenge on Hearts’ Callumn Morrison is thrown out – despite winning the ball.

Yet a three-man panel of ex-grade one officials failed to agree Allan McGregor’s kick at Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer was a red card offence.

When a referee did get it right by sending off Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos for a petulant off the ball kick on Scott McKenna – the SFA then over-ruled the red on appeal!

What message does this give to the young kids playing the game in Scotland?

That it is okay to lash out with petulant kicks?

How can youth coaches the country over argue with kids the cynical fouls are wrong, when Scotland’s governing body are sending out the conflicting message it is okay?