Lee Johnson blasts referee over Jimmy Jeggo red card and use of whistle as Hibs confirm top-six berth

Hibs manager Lee Johnson launched a scathing attack on match referee Craig Napier after his side’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.
Hibs boss Lee Johnson looks bemused during the 1-1 draw with St JohnstoneHibs boss Lee Johnson looks bemused during the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone
Hibs boss Lee Johnson looks bemused during the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone

The 41-year-old had barely sat down in the McDiarmid Park media room after the match before launching his broadside on the official, branding his decision to send off Jimmy Jeggo early in the second half ‘horrendous’ and claiming he ‘hadn’t blown his whistle loud enough’. The result, coupled with scorelines elsewhere, confirmed Hibs’ place in the top six but that fact was almost an afterthought as Johnson fired salvo after salvo.

“The red card was a horrendous decision,” he said. “Jimmy gets a clear first contact on the ball and his momentum carries him on. The St Johnstone player steams in, and they both compete for the ball but the St Johnstone player gets nowhere near the ball and Jimmy wins it cleanly. They’ll talk about the follow-through because of Graeme Shinnie’s one the other day but it’s completely different. I can’t believe it. I’m shocked by it. Did you see how quickly the referee whipped out the red card? And then to not go to the VAR screen… honestly, it’s broken if that’s a sending-off. It was like the show was all about the officials on too many occasions.”

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Johnson also criticised Napier’s use of the whistle throughout the game, insisting that players couldn’t hear him blowing up.

“He didn’t blow his whistle loud enough. I could name three occasions when he didn’t blow his whistle loud enough, or at all, and everyone’s playing on and he’s having a go at everyone for playing on. Yeah, because you haven’t blown your whistle!”

Johnson admitted he wasn’t yet sure if the club would look to appeal the decision, having seen Aberdeen and Shinnie hit with an additional match ban and former Easter Road defender Ryan Porteous incur a similar punishment during Shaun Maloney’s tenure.

“Obviously a frivolous appeal ends up in an extra game, and I don’t trust it,” he continued. “I don’t trust the system. I’ve been told I’m not allowed to say what I want to do. The system is absolutely broken, and it needs to be fixed. It was a really poor performance from the official, as bad as I’ve seen."

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As for the game itself, Johnson was happy to have secured a top-six berth, and the chance to play for a place in Europe next season. The result takes Hibs fifth in the table and that could be enough to secure continental football next term.

"I feel like it's mission one accomplished now we’re competing for a European place. That's brilliant,” he added. “We haven't had a clean run at it but we've battled through. Everything's still to play for, which is great. I'm disappointed we didn't get the three points – I wanted a repeat of the Hearts performance but it was a little bit scatty from us. The pitch was bobbly, the ball was a hot potato. Everyone was competing but there was no class or composure in the first 25 minutes. The goal settled us and we played better and then in the second half given the circumstances the boys battled hard in a difficult game at a tough place to come to get a point.”

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