Aberdeen boss McInnes calls for ‘severe penalties’ for misbehaving Premiership fans after Lennon and Morelos incidents

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

Dons boss Derek McInnes believes the culprits behind the shameful scenes that marred the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle should receive “severe penalties”.

Neil Lennon will tonight bring his Hibs team to Pittodrie less than two weeks after he was hit by a coin in the 0-0 draw on Halloween.

The Easter Road manager was struck on the jaw moments after appearing to celebrate Hearts having an injury-time goal disallowed.

In a night of shame for Scottish football Hearts keeper Zdenek Zlamal was also punched and floored by a supporter in the front row of the Roseburn Stand.

Both assistant referees, Frank Connor and David McGeachie, were also struck by objects.

In the aftermath there has been talk of “strict liability” being introduced to Scottish football.

Strict liability, where clubs can be punished for the conduct of fans regardless of whether the club itself is to blame, is used by Uefa for European competitions.

It is up to member countries to decide whether to adopt such rules and so far Scottish football has voted against its introduction.

For McInnes the answer is to root out the perpetrators and hammer them hard.

And he believes clubs and supporters should have a role in that policing to ensure that the moronic minority “do not become relevant in our game”.

McInnes said: “It is unacceptable behaviour in any walk of life and something that should be totally unacceptable in football.

“What has to happen for supporters to actually lose their head to start throwing coins at officials, players or managers?

“How can you prepare or stop that happening?

“All you can do is give the most severe penalties if you find the guilty party.”

Gothenburg Great and Aberdeen legend Willie Miller called for the introduction of “strict liability” in Scotland in his Evening Express column.

Hearts and Hibs released a joint statement the day after the derby in which Jambos owner Ann Budge and Leeann Dempster, the Easter Road chief executive, both urged supporters to highlight the behaviour of fellow fans if they were responsible for any disorder.

McInnes accepts there has to be that competitive edge and rivalry in football – it will no doubt be there at Pittodrie tonight in a high-stakes Premiership clash for both teams.

It is when that boils over that it becomes unacceptable and must be stamped out.

Just days after the Tynecastle shame game Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos was hit by a coin as he celebrated his goal in injury-time against St Mirren.

“The majority of people come to games to watch their team and get behind them,” said the Aberdeen manager.

“They thrive on the rivalry and atmosphere of certain games.

“But in every support there is also an element of people who think they can say and do whatever they want.

“Sometimes that boils over and plays out what we have seen recently already this season.

“Everyone has a part to play – fellow supporters and clubs have a responsibility to make sure that these people do not become relevant in our game.”

For McInnes the Scottish Premiership has so much to offer this season – a competitive league with little separating the teams, top managers and improved squads.

However it has been overshadowed by the shocking scenes at Tynecastle and by the Morelos incident.

Tonight it will be all about the football with a crowd in excess of 15,000 set to turn up at Pittodrie.

So closely matched were the teams it took a penalty shoot-out to separate them in the Dons’ favour in the Betfred Cup quarter-final at Easter Road earlier this season.

McInnes said: “We go into the Hibs game with the objective of continuing our winning run.

“The win over Kilmarnock showed our resilience. It’s difficult to stop Hibs creating chances as they’re a very good team so it’s about getting the right balance.”