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BAFFLED SUTTON AND ‘THE THREE STOOGES’

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CHRIS SUTTON has queried why Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke has been charged by the SFA when his Rangers counterpart Steven Gerrard escaped censure for similar comments.

And the former Celtic striker, now a media pundit, is so unimpressed by decisions made by the new three-man judicial panel made up of ex-top referees he has labelled them “the three stooges”.

In particular, Sutton is baffled by the situation concerning the Rugby Park gaffer and the tribunal’s decision not to award a retrospective red card to Ibrox keeper Allan McGregor for his lick out at Hoops defender Kristoffer Ajer in the derby at Parkhead earlier this month.

STEVE CLARKE…in trouble with the SFA.

Clarke has been accused of implying bias or incompetence by a match official and of bringing the game into disrepute by the governing body.

He claimed the appeal against the red card given to his midfielder Gary Dicker against Hearts had been “pre-judged” – because referee Willie Collum was taking charge of the Old Firm game a few days later.

Sutton admitted he was puzzled why there was no punishment for Gerrard after his remarkable outburst at Pittodrie at the start of the Premiership campaign when he claimed refereeing decisions had been going against the Ibrox side “for years”.

Alfredo Morelos was sent off for a clear kick at Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna in the 1-1 draw, but the Colombian’s red card was later downgraded to a booking.

The ex-England international frontman said: “That’s inconsistency. Steven Gerrard’s conspiracy stuff is as bad as anything – he’s implying that there’s collaboration between referees which has worked against his club. Steve Clarke must be sitting thinking: ‘If I’ve been charged, why hasn’t Steven Gerrard been charged?’”

Sutton was banned following a claim Dunfermline had lain down to Rangers when they lost 6-1 at Ibrox on the last day of the 2002/03 season to hand the Glasgow side the title on goal difference from Martin O’Neill’s men.

He said: “I was done for saying something similar – and rightly so. You just want to see common sense and consistency and there’s been anything but that from the SFA.

STEVEN GERRARD…no action after Pittodrie comments.

“Why didn’t the SFA react to Gerrard’s comments? That’s a really good question, but you’d need to ask them that. However, since they’re now acting over Clarke’s remarks, then it’s a fair question to ask them why they’re not taking the Rangers manager to task for, arguably, the worst offence of them all.

“The quotes from Motherwell’s Peter Hartley – about how he enjoyed watching Fabio Cardoso cry when Ryan Bowman broke his nose – were also disgraceful, but he wasn’t done, either. It’s a sad situation, really, and a poor reflection on the SFA that it’s come to this.”

Sutton added: “Clearly, the panel needs sorting out in some way, shape or form because there have been some very strange decisions.

“Steve Clarke coming out and saying what he did was out of frustration. He has overstepped the mark in some respects and he will know that. But he makes some valid points. It all comes down to the incidents we have seen and the Dicker one and his frustration over that. I can understand that.

“It is a strange old start to the season for the panel. McGregor was probably the oddest decision of them all. McGregor was first and Dicker later on in the week. You would have thought the three-man panel, the three stooges or whatever you want to call them, would have thought logically about things and they have let McGregor off with that.

“In some ways I have sympathy for the referees. It may not always seem that way, but this is the panel. They are supposed to be the safety net. So, when referees get decisions wrong it’s not easy. The Dicker one wasn’t straightforward because he does lunge. In that split-second, Willie Collum had to make a decision. It could have gone either way for me.

“The McGregor one is baffling. In terms of them talking about the wording of the law, if that isn’t brutality what is. It is kicking out. It is going to take someone getting a broken leg.

“What sort of message does it send to young players across the country? It is scandalous how they don’t see that and get that right. It is not even a grey area. Derek McInnes has come out and said they are incompetent. Well, it’s hard to argue with him, really.

“This panel, we’ve seen all their decisions – the Alfredo Morelos one, the Steven Naismith one, the Allan McGregor one. It’s hard to go round the country and find anyone else who doesn’t think they should have been punished.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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