Former Hearts chairman wants Celtic game replayed or points forfeited - plus a public apology for Barrie McKay

Last Thursday’s contentious Premiership fixture between Celtic and Hearts should be replayed or the Edinburgh club awarded the points, according to former Tynecastle chairman Leslie Deans.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 3:18 pm
Referee Bobby Madden with Hearts winger Barrie McKay after he is hit with objects from the Celtic support last Thursday.
Referee Bobby Madden with Hearts winger Barrie McKay after he is hit with objects from the Celtic support last Thursday.

He is astonished that Celtic Park officials have not publicly apologised to the Hearts winger Barrie McKay, who was pelted with missiles during his team’s 1-0 defeat.

Television replays suggested Kyogo’s winning goal was offside and, in the second half, referee Bobby Madden bizarrely chose to stop play with Hearts in possession because the Celtic winger Jota had pulled up with a hamstring injury.

The combined controversies made for a heated aftermath and Deans feels replaying the game or giving Hearts the victory would be justified.

He told the Evening News there is no excuse for not offering McKay an apology after the was struck by a plastic bottle thrown from a section of Celtic fans. One man has been arrested in connection with the incident but McKay also had cups, coins and even a pie rain down on him whilst taking corner-kicks for the visitors.

“I’m absolutely staggered that there has been no public apology from Celtic to Hearts, Barrie McKay or both,” said Deans, chairman at Tynecastle between 1994 and 1999. “A player in their stadium has been assaulted at least once, possibly more. It’s staggering that they have not commented.

“You can well understand that Celtic are embarrassed by this but the fact is it happened. The football authorities have got to take action on this to show everybody thinking along these lines that something will be done. If this had happened under the auspices of UEFA, Celtic would have been thrown out of the competition.

“The very least that should happen here is that the game should be replayed. In fact, there is an argument to say Hearts should be awarded the points.

“Why is that? Well, how can a player concentrate on his job while standing there wondering: ‘What’s coming at me next? I’ve had coins, pies, bottles – is it going to be a dart next?’ You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t think that way.

“Also, if indeed the referee did tell Barrie McKay that stewards were in place [to deal with the issue], then clearly these stewards weren’t doing their jobs.

“The referee should have taken the players off the park when the missiles started and instructed a tannoy announcement that the game would be delayed for ten minutes. The announcement should also have made it clear that, if there was any repeat when play restarted, then the game would be abandoned.

“Thankfully there was no serious injury to any player but it might be different next time. I will await with interest the outcome of this. While it’s right that nobody comments on the case of the individual arrested, that does not stop comment being made.”

The Scottish FA’s head of referees, Crawford Allan, admitted on BBC Radio Scotland at the weekend that Kyogo’s goal was awarded erroneously. The Hearts manager Robbie Neilson had tried to contact Allan for an explanation about events at Celtic Park but, as of the weekend, they had not spoken.

Allan’s presence on national radio was a rather unusual move so soon after such a hotly-disputed encounter. Deans welcomed the honesty and willingness to address issues with a large audience listening to the show. “Credit to Crawford Allan for publicly saying what is clear to everybody who saw it,” said Deans.

“The goal wasn’t just offside, it was a quite a distance offside. I’ve watched these things for 60 years and you get told decisions like that even themselves out. I’m still waiting for them to even themselves out.”

The Edinburgh-based lawyer recalled decades of frustration at decisions he feels were unfair on Hearts when they came up against the Glasgow clubs.

“I remember one comment from somebody years back after Celtic got a dodgy penalty against Hearts. When asked if these things even themselves out, he said: ‘Yes. Next week Rangers will get a dodgy penalty against Hearts so things will be evened out.’”

Tynecastle officials are awaiting the outcome of Police Scotland’s investigation into missiles launched at McKay. Neilson conveyed some of his exasperation during post-match media interviews but chose his words carefully having already served one touchline ban for a Scottish FA misconduct charge.

“One point nobody has commented on is comments on referees,” stated Deans. “It remains to be seen whether Robbie Neilson will receive an invitation to visit the football authorities in view of his comments.

“However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that literally a couple of weeks ago the Celtic chairman [Ian Bankier] was making allegations about a referee in advance of a game. The referee was Nick Walsh and it was in advance of the League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone.

“The Celtic chairman said they had had problems with Nick Walsh before and that his appointment for the semi was a source of deep concern.

“The Celtic chairman is an experienced lawyer who will know exactly the impact of those words. No action was taken against him for effectively criticising a referee for something that had not happened yet.

“Robbie Neilson was talking about issues that had happened and was pointing to a decision which anybody – short of the myopic or blind – could see was an incorrect decision. So I think a bit of balance needs to be taken into account there.

“It would be quite inappropriate if double standards were applied – no action against the Celtic chairman but Robbie being rapped over the knuckles for his comments.”

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