Hibernian boss Lee Johnson claimed Scottish football’s “integrity” is at stake as he delivered a scathing attack on the way the game is being run north of the border after his side secured their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership on Saturday.
The Englishman was infuriated by the officiating in his side’s 1-1 draw at St Johnstone, with Hibees midfielder James Jeggo controversially sent off early in the second half. The frustrated manager said he does not “trust” Scotland’s “broken” disciplinary system to allow the red card to be overturned.
Johnson also took issue with the fact not all of the top-flight matches kicked off simultaneously when so much was at stake on the last weekend before the split, with Hearts and Ross County facing off at lunchtime on Saturday and Aberdeen hosting Rangers on Sunday.
The 41-year-old, who has spent most of his managerial career in England, feels there are several things in Scottish football that “need looked at” as he called for managers to have more influence in key decisions around the game.
“Where’s the system where people (officials) get marked and then get promoted or demoted based on those marks?” he said, after a lengthy outburst about the “horrendous” decision to send off Jeggo.
“What we running here? It’s ridiculous. Even to the point where every game should have been played at 3pm today (Saturday), including Aberdeen v Rangers.
“This was the last game of the pre-split and there was too much going. It has to be fair, and fairness is everybody kicking off at the same time. We don’t know what’s going on (in the other games) and the difference in dynamic. It has to be 3pm.
“There are so many things (in Scottish football) that need looked at. The managers are probably not powerful enough up here. Down in England, the LMA (League Managers Association) is a powerful unit.
“We have good debate and feel like we have influence and can change the game for the better but up here I feel like we have no influence, and there’s probably 11 other managers who feel the same. It’s only to make the game better.
“It’s just not good enough, it’s going to cost a fantastic competition a lot of integrity.”
Despite his grievances, Johnson was pleased to see his side secure their top-six place.
Lewis Stevenson’s first goal in almost five years cancelled out Stevie May’s opener for Saints, ensuring Hibs remained above seventh-placed Livingston, who lost at Dundee United.
The point took the Hibees ahead of St Mirren on goal difference in the battle for Europe.
“I feel like it’s mission one accomplished in terms of we’re now competing for a European place,” he said. “That’s brilliant.
“We’ve had a rough time of it. We haven’t had a clean run at it but we’ve battled through. Over the course of 33 games, we’re currently the fifth best team in the league and we give ourselves a chance to stay fifth and potentially go higher. Everything’s still to play for, which is great.”
New Saints interim boss Steven MacLean stopped a three-game losing streak with a spirited display but the Perth side are now just two points above the relegation play-off spot after Dundee United and Kilmarnock both won.
“We can’t control what other people do,” said MacLean when asked about other teams closing the gap. “It’s all still in our hands.
“I like a challenge so roll the sleeves up and let’s go.”
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