Josh Meekings: Neil Lennon joins criticism of proposed ban

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Sport

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon says the Scottish Football Association will "open up a can of worms" by banning Inverness Caledonian Thistle's Josh Meekings from the Scottish Cup final.

Inverness have refused to accept a retrospective one-game ban for Meekings for handling a Leigh Griffiths header in a 3-2 semi-final win over Celtic.

If Thursday's tribunal does not go their way, Meekings misses the final.

Fifa referees boss Jim Boyce also says a ban will set a "dangerous precedent".

He added: "It doesn't help us if someone gets banned. I don't think that's right. I don't think he did it on purpose, the ball was going very quickly. It was reaction, but it was a clear handball, a red card and a penalty.

"I hope that he will play, the best players should always play in the final. I don't think it is a positive thing to ban anybody."

Referee Steven McLean failed to award a penalty against Inverness when Meekings used a hand to stop a goal-bound header from Griffiths just before the interval with the Hoops leading 1-0.

Bolton boss Lennon told BBC Radio 5 live: "How can you prove that is an intentional handball and how can you ban the player for that?

"It's just going to open such a can of worms going forward."

Jim Boyce addresses Fifa
Jim Boyce is Britain's Fifa vice-president and the head of Fifa's refereeing committee

Celtic have written to the SFA asking it to explain why McLean and his officials did not award a penalty and send off Meekings.

Boyce told BBC Scotland he understands Celtic's grievance, but disciplinary action against the officials in question is a matter for the SFA.

"Every week we have handball situations where referees make a decision," said the Fifa vice-president.

"In this particular game, there was a referee, an assistant referee, one of these people behind the goal line and there was a fourth official and none of them made any decision.

"So I can't believe that they're going to suspend a player for a handball."

The SFA did not wish to respond to Boyce, who stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of world football's governing body.

Since the SFA overhauled its disciplinary procedures in 2011 and employed Vincent Lunny as the first compliance officer to enforce the new protocols, players have been retrospectively punished for violent conduct and serious foul play.

Lunny, who was replaced last year by Tony McGlennan, said the rules also allow for action to be taken over any potential sending-off offence, including preventing a goal by handling the ball.

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