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Levein, Hogg appeal kicked into touch.
1 Nov 1994
CRAIG Levein and Graeme Hogg may have had their appeals against 10-match suspensions rejected yesterday, but the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association are to press for a revue of the disciplinary system, which they claim to be grossly unfair.
The Hearts' players were tight-lipped when they left the SFA headquarters to begin their sentences, imposed after they had brawled with one another at the end of a pre-season friendly game against Raith Rovers, However, the players or their club may issue a statement after they have discussed the failure of their appeal further with manager Tommy McLean, who also attended yesterday's meeting.
By the time the players are again available for selection the cost of rushes of blood to their heads will have cost them thousands of pounds.
McLean must be especially concerned that two of his defenders, one of them, Levein, a top-class performer, will be sidelined for a period of time that is almost the equivalent of one third of the league season.
Hearts have just sold Alan McLaren to Rangers and rejection of a strong appeal for clemency could seriously undermine the Tynecastle side's challenge.
Having Levein standing around kicking his heels on the sidelines in the coming months also could hamper Scotland's attempt to qualify for the European Championship finals.
The defender, who has 15 caps, will be named next week in Scotland's squad for the match against Russia at Hampden on Wednesday, November 11, because manager Criag Brown believes the player will still be reasonably sharp, but it will be a different matter when the Scots tackle the away match in Greece the following month.
"His suspension doesn't alter my plans for the next match because Levein will sit out only one more match than the rest of the international players because of the free week before the game against Russia," said Brown.
"However, there is more of a problem regarding the game in Greece, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it."
Reading between the lines, Levein will not come into the reckoning for the trip to Athens which just might be the most important one Scotland will make in their qualifying campaign.
The 10-game suspensions were imposed several weeks ago, but both players appealed immediately, claiming the punishments to be too severe, and they had hoped that the SFA's Disciplinary Appeals Tribunal of Lord McCluskey, Brechin City chairman Hugh Campbell Adamson, and Harry Donaldson, the SPFA's tribunals expert, would rule in their favour.
The players and and SPFA secretary, Tony Higgins, were given a hearing which lasted 35 minutes and then the tribunal deliberated for an hour before deciding to reject the appeal, although acknowledging that a 10-game is, indeed, a severe penalty.
A statement from the tribunal also pointed out, however, that it was not their duty to rehear the case, but only to decide whether or not the SFA's Disciplinary Committee were entitled to impose such a severe sanction in this case.
"This is a most unusual case," the statement continued.
While accepting that nothing more could be done on behalf of Levein and Hogg, the SPFA hope to instigate action which might prevent other players from suffering similar punishment.
"No-one would try to condone what the players did, but they apologised profusely for their behaviour which was denounced by Hearts, who also punished them.
"The system in football cannot be right when players can be punished three times for the one offence.
Higgins believes chairmen and directors must be alarmed by the thought that any of their players could be suspended for such a large portion of the league season even after the clubs have taken sanctions against players who misbehave.
"In the close season the SFA sent a circular to the clubs telling them that they would have to be more responsible for the actions of their players, yet even after Hearts were hard on Levein and Hogg the association can still impose such a severe punishment of their own," Higgins added.
"The players felt the punishment handed down by their club was not given proper regard by the SFA, and it really is time the clubs looked at the system more closely.
Taken from the Herald