Aleksandar Tonev: Vincent Lunny backs panel timescale

Celtic winger Aleksandar Tonev
Tonev continues to be free to play for Celtic during his appeal

Former Scottish FA compliance officer Vincent Lunny is not surprised that its tribunal has delayed a decision on the case against Aleksandar Tonev.

The midfielder was found guilty of racially abusing Aberdeen's Shay Logan, but Celtic have appealed against a seven-match suspension.

"In many ways, it makes perfect sense for the panel to take their time over this one," Lunny told BBC Scotland.

"It is a very difficult case. It is a very emotive case."

Vincent Lunny, former SFA compliance officer
"The panel will want time to go away and consider what's been submitted to them and prepare a judgement that's well-reasoned and robust and something they're happy with."

Whereas in criminal courts, the standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt, the rule for civil cases in Scotland is a "balance of probabilities" and this is likely where the arguments at Thursday's tribunal will have centred.

"I understand from the media coverage that Celtic's arguments were going to be probably based along the lines of the test set down by the panel on the balance of probabilities," said Lunny.

"And that would, no doubt, involve a fairly complex and sophisticated legal argument.

"So the panel will want time to go away and consider what's been submitted to them and prepare a judgement that's well-reasoned and robust and something they're happy with.

"For something as difficult as this, I am satisfied that the panel is making the right decision by taking their time."

Aberdeen defender Shay Logan
Aberdeen defender Shay Logan made the allegation against Tonev

Lunny pointed out that such an SFA appeals panel would be chaired by "someone legally qualified, such as an advocate or a sheriff or even a judge" and it was commonplace for civil courts to take time to prepare a judgement in writing.

Celtic have hinted that, if that conclusion goes against Tonev, who is on loan from Aston Villa, they could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) in Switzerland.

"It's not something that's happened before under the judicial panel system," added Lunny.

"The protocol itself under the appeals procedure makes it quite clear that the appeal last night was the final stage and there are no further rights of appeal.

"So the SFA might feel that is the end of the matter. However, under the SFA's Articles of Association, I think Article 5, there is reference to the clubs, as being members of the SFA they do submit to the jurisdiction of Cas.

"So there is an argument on both sides on whether Cas has jurisdiction and it will be interesting to see if Celtic go down that road if it is ultimately necessary."

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