HEARTS manager Paulo Sergio is being investigated by the Scottish Football Association for comments relating to referee Iain Brines prior to this afternoon’s SPL match with Dunfermline.
The Evening News has learned that Sergio has been reported to the SFA’s compliance officer, who will consider whether the Portuguese has brought the game into disrepute with his assertion that Brines should not have been appointed fourth official for the encounter at East End Park.
If found guilty of misconduct for his outburst against Brines, Sergio could face a fine of anything up to £10,000 under new SFA rules prohibiting players and managers commenting about referees before games. Article 126 of the SFA’s Articles of Association states that anyone involved with a professional club making comments which “criticise the performance of any or all match officials in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence” or “make remarks about such match official which impinge upon his character” will be subject to sanctions.
Sergio could now find himself the first victim of the new legislation, which is intended to prevent match officials suffering public berating following last season’s referee strike. Sergio remains unhappy with Brines following his performance in Hearts’ recent League Cup defeat by Ayr United at Somerset Park. The Edinburgh club have requested clarification from the SFA for Brines’ decision to disallow an Eggert Jonsson “goal” for handling, which ultimately cost Hearts the game since they lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Sergio believes Brines should not be involved in a Hearts match until their questions are answered. He said: “I’m not happy with that. He (Brines) told me (at Ayr) that the linesman said to him it was hand ball. Now he is saying he saw the hand ball. So I am not happy to have him by my side. I am honest and I don’t see why I have to hide my feelings.
“I’m not happy to have him in Hearts’ game. Sorry. It is very hard for me to be out of the cup with a situation like that.
“I’m going to do my job. He is going to do his job, I hope. I don’t care about that. I have a team to lead and I want to win.”