George Peat, president of the SFA, dismissed talk of a “Celtic v SFA war”, adding: “The reality is somewhat different.”
He said he had met Peter Lawwell last week and that the chief executive of Celtic is “fully supportive of the strategic plan being driven by our own chief executive, Stewart Regan.”
Peat also had words of support for Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager. “Fluctuations in football fortunes are part of the game – so is the occasional visit to Hampden Park’s sixth floor – but death threats, delivery of suspicious packages and the need for around the clock protection are most certainly not,” said Peat in the match programme. “I admire Neil’s courage in handling the abhorrent and contemptible behaviour to which he has been subjected and put on record my condemnation of such cowardly acts.”
Lennon, speaking after the match, said: “I welcome these words.”
There was also agreement between the two managers with Lennon and Craig Brown agreeing that the rule which demands the dismissal of player committing a foul to prevent a goalscoring opportunity should be looked at. Andrew Considine was sent off yesterday for bringing down Gary Hooper, having suffered the same fate for a foul on Scott Brown in the league match at Pittodrie in February.
Anthony Stokes’ penalty was saved by Jamie Langfield yesterday but the reduction of Aberdeen to 10 men made Celtic’s win almost inevitable. “Psychologically for Aberdeen it was damaging,” Lennon admitted. “But I do think it was a penalty and in the interpretation of the laws of the game, the referee probably had no choice but to send him off. I think it is one rule that could be doing with being looked at. If someone makes a genuine attempt to get the ball and is beaten, then maybe a penalty and a yellow card is punishment enough.”
Coincidentally, Langfield had saved Stokes’ penalty after Considine had been sent off in the second minute when the two sides met at Pittodrie in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in February.
“I think a lot of managers would like to see 11 versus 11 where possible,” said Brown. “Certainly the penalty alone is a harsh punishment but not only do we lose the player for that game, we lose him for another game, for that one challenge. It is a harsh rule but that is the law of the game and we have to abide with it.
“To play against the best passing team in the country a man short is very difficult. But you have to concede that Celtic were the better side.”
Lennon said of the cup final meeting with Motherwell next month: “We have something to look forward to at the end of the season but the main priority is the championship. So we can put the cup final on the back burner and concentrate on what we really want.”
Brown, meanwhile, said that despite his confrontation with John Boyle, the Motherwell chairman, he would be supporting the Fir Park side in the final. “I’ll get a comp maybe,” he said when asked if his former employer would offer him a ticket for the match on May 21.