Naismith case shows new scheme works, say Scottish FA

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The Independent Football

Campbell Ogilvie, the Scottish Football Association president, has declared new fast-track disciplinary measures a success despite issues being raised by Rangers over how a two-match ban for Steven Naismith was administered.

Naismith this week became the first player to be handed a retrospective punishment under the new system after being judged to have struck Dunfermline full-back Austin McCann with his arm during his club's 4-0 win at East End Park on Saturday.

Rangers accepted the suspension on Monday but manager Ally McCoist last night called for "fairness" and argued it would be "nice to know who has banned him".

The answer is that the decision to offer Naismith a two-match ban – the automatic suspension for a violent conduct offence – was taken by the SFA's temporary compliance officer, who is contracted from a law firm, under strict reference to the laws of the game.

An independent three-man panel would have been convened to decide on Naismith's guilt had Rangers challenged the sanction, with the compliance officer effectively acting as the prosecution.

Ogilvie, speaking after conducting the Scottish Cup second-round draw at a Glasgow branch of tournament sponsor William Hill, said: "It was dealt with in very timely fashion. In the past some of these cases were still being dealt with maybe five weeks down the line. The one that has come forward this week has been very high profile.

"It has been dealt with at arm's length from the general running of the SFA and that's one of the things the club wanted. The compliance officer will deal with each case on its own merit. Naturally when it's a high-profile case involving one of the bigger teams, there will be more publicity around it. But the key to this is he will deal with every case in the same manner."

The SFA have clarified that any incident studied by the compliance officer will be publicised whether action is ultimately taken or not, which means Naismith is the only player to have been the subject of retrospective action under the new system, although there have been eight claims of wrongful dismissal.

It remains unclear who informed the compliance officer of the Naismith case, although the publicity from Sky's live televised coverage and in other media meant he would have inevitably been aware of it.

"The compliance officer can act on any information at all, it doesn't have to be an individual," Ogilvie said. "He can act on whatever information is to hand. It can be brought to his attention by any means whatsoever. I think it's fair to say that when games are televised, incidents are pretty public knowledge."

But questions have been raised as to why, for example, the compliance officer did not study an incident involving Gary Hooper and Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings, who claimed the Celtic striker had struck him with his arm during his side's 4-0 defeat at Parkhead on 10 September.

Jennings, like McCann, did not call for action to be taken, but he claimed he had been deliberately hit and the incident was captured on camera, although pictures were far less conclusive than the Naismith flashpoint.

However, Ogilvie is confident the system will prove acceptable to clubs in the long run, with a permanent compliance officer expected to be appointed in the next few weeks.

"We believe we have made the process more transparent," Ogilvie said. "Whenever there is a high-profile case there tends to be more questions but we have to deal with every case on its own merit the same way, whether it's a high-profile case or one of the cases from some of the lower divisions that doesn't receive the same publicity.

"In the SPL there are cameras at every game. It's also fair to say the clubs in the SPL are benefiting from the financial benefits of the TV contracts.

"I suppose where it's fairer now is that every game in the SPL is televised, whereas years ago there might be only one or two games. That comes with the territory."

Ogilvie added: "The clubs at the general meeting voted in favour of the process, 93 members voted for it. I would say there will be issues this season when maybe clubs aren't satisfied with some individual cases but overall it is definitely the way forward."

Scottish Cup second round draw: Clachnacuddin v Inverurie Loco Works, Vale of Leithen v Cove Rangers, Gala Fairydean v Golspie Sutherland, Fort William or Bo'ness Utd v Whitehill Welfare, Fraserburgh v Elgin City, Wigtown and Bladnoch v Stranraer, Peterhead v Nairn County, Wick Academy v Keith, Culter v Spartans, Alloa Athletic v Annan Athletic, Deveronvale v Berwick Rangers, Auchinleck Talbot v Threave Rovers, East Stirling v Buckie Thistle, Huntly v Queen's Park, Montrose v Clyde, Elgin City v Forres Mechanics or Irvine Meadow. Ties to be played weekend of 22 October.

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