Chris Sutton has hit back at former Hibs captain Gary Caldwell for his insistence that Neil Lennon “sometimes bring it on himself”.
The current Partick Thistle boss was speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme after an ill-tempered Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.
After Hearts had a last-minute winner disallowed for offside, Lennon hit the deck when a coin thrown from the crowd struck the Easter Road boss as he celebrated the referee’s decision.
While not wanting to condone the fan’s actions, Caldwell insisted Lennon should have been “professional” and not tried to “goad” the home fans at the end of the 0-0 draw.
The former Scotland star later clarified his comments in a tweet, saying he didn’t “condone the fan in any way” and hopes the authorities “punish them as severely as they can”.
Sutton, though, believes the type of language used by Caldwell on the broadcast is exactly the sort of thing which normalises objects being thrown.
He wrote on Twitter: “Ridiculous thing to say trying to justify coin throwing.”
He added: “This is the sort of daft thought process that tries to justify coin throwing as ok. It’s not ok to throw coins or attack players on the pitch. Last night’s scenes were shameful.”
Meanwhile, Hearts boss Robbie Neilson worries that it would take someone getting seriously hurt for the authorities to properly stamp out this sort of thing in football.
In addition to the incident with Lennon, home goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal was struck by a fan in the away end as he went to take a goal kick.
Neilson, who was also appearing on BBC Radio Scotland, said: “It’s a sorry day. Football is about drama, entertainment, it can be a pantomime at times. But a line was crossed tonight.
“It’s something that’s always been there, it’s the idiots that do it. When you throw it, it could hit a child sitting at the front of the stand. You don’t know what impact it could have.
“It’s how we deter it, that’s the biggest thing. What generally happens is the clubs will get restrictions against them, fines. The police have to get involved, they have to make a big stand to try and cut it out.
“Is it going to take somebody getting seriously injured before the authorities do something about it? By that point it’s too late.”