ROBBIE NEILSON was today handed a two-match ban by the Scottish Football Association for comments on referee Willie Collum.
The ban is suspended until the end of the season, pending any further criticism of officials by the Hearts head coach.
He attended a hearing at Hampden Park this afternoon after receiving a notice of complaint from the SFA compliance officer, Tony McGlennan. The complaint stated that Neilson “criticised the performance of the match officials in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence on their part” after Hearts’ 3-2 loss at Hamilton on August 29.
Collum sent off Hearts defender Callum Paterson that day - his ninth red card in 36 games refereeing the Edinburgh club - but the decision was later rescinded and reduced to a caution.
During post-match interviews, Neilson admitted he expected a red card. “The game has been ruined by a decision that is not a sending-off,” he said at the time. “We actually practised going down to ten men because of the environment we’re coming to and the officials who are taking the game and we have to do that.
“In the recent past, the statistics involving the officials have shown a lot of red cards against us, so we have to prepare for it. The next time we get these officials, we will again train with ten men.”
Neilson argued his case in front of an SFA judicial panel today, however the original complaint was upheld.
He was issued a suspended two-game touchline ban which will take effect if he falls foul of the governing body again before next summer.