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Gordon Smith urges clubs to do more to punish cheats

Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Hibernian forward Derek Riordan

McGregor in simulation controversy

Gordon Smith, former chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, is urging clubs to take a firmer stance against players who cheat.

In Sunday's match between Hibernian and Rangers, Allan McGregor held his face and fell to the turf, simulating a head-butt by Hibs' Derek Riordan.

The Rangers keeper was booked by match referee Iain Brines, as was Riordan.

"I'd like to see the clubs doing more. A lot haven't taken action when their player has done it," said Smith.

And he added: "Maybe that's because they feel they hadn't gained from it."

In the match at Easter Road, in which Ibrox striker Kyle Lafferty and Hibs midfielder Kevin McBride were later sent off, Riordan slid in on McGregor as the Scotland international gathered the ball.

With these guys, there is no prospect of them getting the benefit of the doubt - you assume it's just typical

The reputations of McGregor, Riordan and Lafferty affects referees, admits former official Kenny Clark

The goalkeeper reacted angrily and faced up to the Hibs forward, then feigned injury from a head-butt when there was no contact made by Riordan.

"It was embarrassing from Allan McGregor's point of view. Players who do that nowadays - I think it's a disgrace," said Smith, now a football pundit with BBC Scotland.

"When I was at the SFA we decided to concentrate on three circumstances where the simulations actually resulted in some sort of outcome for the player which was negative to the opposition - a penalty, a red card or a free-kick that led to a goal.

"We decided we were going to punish situations that actually were successful simulations. We wanted to improve the culture of the game.

"In the incident between McGregor and Riordan, there was no advantage gained from Rangers' point of view so the referee will be seen to now have dealt with the situation: there won't be any retrospective action taken on it.

"It's like if a player cheats during the game and the referee gives him a yellow card. That's it finished, there is no retrospective action taken because it hasn't been 'successful', there was no advantage gained."

Sunday's incident was similar to one in 2009 when Lafferty pretended to have been assaulted by Aberdeen's Charlie Mulgrew, now at Celtic.

Smith said: "Rangers did take a lot of action when Walter Smith saw the situation with Lafferty and Mulgrew. He was angry about it and he took action within the club.

"But I'm pretty sure when Walter Smith sees this action from Allan McGregor he will be annoyed about it because it was embarrassing and it is something we want to cut out the game."

Rangers captain David Weir steps between Kevin McBride and Kyle Lafferty
Rangers captain David Weir steps between McBride and Lafferty

Meanwhile, former grade one referee Kenny Clark says the reputation of some players causes officials, subconsciously, to be less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound on Monday, Clark said: "Hibs-Rangers games are very often volatile occasions.

"Before the game, if you had been asked to write down five or six players who might get themselves embroiled in incidents where perhaps they didn't need to do so, I'd have thought there would be every chance that Derek Riordan and Kyle Lafferty would have been right up there; Allan McGregor might not have been far behind them, and so on."

Asked if that meant referees would come down harder on such players, Clark added: "It's human nature. If a guy generally is not someone who is causing you a problem, he is not in your face, running about committing foul after foul, subconsciously you might give that individual the benefit of the doubt.

"With these guys, there is no prospect of them getting the benefit of the doubt, because you assume that it's just typical of them, this is the sort of thing they get up to all the time."

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see also
Hughes & Smith dismiss red cards
22 Aug 10 |  Rangers
SFA happy with diving crackdown
01 Sep 09 |  Scottish Premier
SFA praises Rangers over Lafferty
19 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
Mikoliunas appeals two-match ban
25 Sep 07 |  Internationals

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