The disciplinary case against Hibernian over the pitch invasion that followed the Scottish Cup final has been dismissed as “irrelevant”.
And, as a result of the SFA judicial panel decision, the case against Rangers has also been withdrawn.
A large-scale invasion by fans at full-time was followed by clashes between supporters from both sides on 21 May.
Meanwhile, Hibs say they have now paid money to the SFA following damage to the pitch at Hampden.
Hibs won the match 3-2 to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902.
No appetite for ‘strict liability’
At an SFA board meeting in 2013, clubs voted against an amendment to the organisation’s articles which would have led to strict liability – clubs being held responsible for the behaviour of their supporters.
And, on this basis, the judicial panel ruled that Hibs could not be punished following fans’ actions in the aftermath of the match.
The SFA charged both clubs with breaches of disciplinary rule 311.
In both cases the following references were made:
- “damage was sustained to Hampden Stadium…as a consequence of misbehaviour by supporters of your Club”
- “the misbehaviour by your supporters occurred at the conclusion of the above match, whereby a number of your supporters carried out an incursion onto the pitch, and thereafter remained upon the pitch until cleared by Police Scotland and Stewards”
- “in the course of this misbehaviour by your supporters damage was sustained to the stadium”
The panel chair’s notes of reason on the decision to dismiss the case against Hibs begins with the statement: “The Panel unanimously dismiss the complaint as irrelevant.”
The notes continued: “[Compliance officer] Mr [Tony] McGlennan accepted that he is relying on Rule 28 to import strict liability to the club for the actions of the supporters. The panel has to be satisfied that the provisions are clear and unambiguous and do not conflict with requirements of procedural fairness and natural justice before taking that step.”
And, in closing, the notes of reason state: “It may be thought odd that there is no apparent disciplinary sanction for this event. But that is a matter for the members to deal with, in clear terms, rather than for the Judicial Panel to innovate by a purposive interpretation of the rules. From the information which we have, there is a limited appetite for strict liability within Scottish football.”
Neither club to blame
The panel also say the “decision is without prejudice to the right of the SFA to seek reparation or restitution”.
Following the decision, Hibs said in a statement: “Hibernian FC welcomes the decision of the Judicial Panel which has dismissed the complaint raised against the club for the reasons set out in the judgment.
“Receipt of the complaint was the first quantification to the club of the damage to the pitch at Hampden. The club has today paid that sum to the Scottish FA.”
Following the cup final, the SFA asked Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen to investigate the pitch invasion.
Bowen’s independent report said the Scottish government should consider making it a criminal offence to run on to a football pitch and that neither club were to blame for crowd trouble.
Later in Hibs’ statement on Wednesday, the club’s chief executive Leeann Dempster said: “We hope that this now brings an end to the matter and the Scottish FA can concentrate on implementing the recommendations made by the Independent Commissioner, Sheriff Principal Bowen.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37500343