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Old Firm brawlers Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist banished to stands

By Matt McGeechan

Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist will watch next week's Co-operative Insurance Cup final from the stand after being handed touchline bans by the Scottish Football Association following their altercation at the end of last week's ill-tempered Old Firm derby.

McCoist and lennon bannedBad boys: Tempers boiled over during last week’s Old Firm clash at Celtic Park, with Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra one of three players to be red carded



Celtic manager Lennon and Rangers assistant boss McCoist were yesterday charged with misconduct as the fallout of the volatile Scottish Cup fifth-round replay at Parkhead continued.

Lennon was already banished to the stands for the March 20 final with Rangers at Hampden Park and now McCoist will join him in being banned from the touchline after their fracas at the end of last week's match.

The pair have incurred four and two-match suspensions respectively and further punishments are due to be handed out with two of the three Rangers players sent off in the 1-0 loss set to face further sanctions.

El-Hadji Diouf, who was shown a red card after the final whistle and team-mate Madjid Bougherra have been reported to the SFA's disciplinary committee for “misconduct of a significantly serious nature.”

A Scottish FA statement read: “The Scottish FA can confirm that Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, and Ally McCoist, the Rangers assistant manager, have been charged with misconduct relating to the Scottish Cup fifth-round replay.

“Mr Lennon will incur an automatic four-match suspension from the technical area, owing to a previous charge of misconduct, while Mr McCoist will incur a two-match suspension. These will be effective from March 16, 2011.

“In addition, the Rangers players, El-Hadji Diouf and Madjid Bougherra, have been informed that they will be reported to the disciplinary committee for misconduct of a significantly serious nature. These will be considered at the committee's next meeting, on April 12.”

Lennon and McCoist clashed and had to be separated at the same time Rangers forward Diouf, booked earlier in the match for a touchline confrontation with the Celtic boss, was being shown a second yellow card by referee Calum Murray for dissent.

Rangers had finished the game with nine men after the first-half dismissal of Steven Whittaker for picking up two yellow cards with defender Bougherra receiving his marching orders in stoppage time after a challenge on Kris Commons, having been booked earlier.

Bougherra reacted angrily and tried to prevent referee Murray from showing his cards.

Last week SFA chief executive Stewart Regan confirmed an in

vestigation would take place. Regan described the behaviour witnessed at Celtic Park as “inflammatory and irresponsible” while claiming that “actions — which culminated in three red cards and 13 cautions in total — also re-emphasised the ongoing lack of respect for our match officials”.

Strathclyde Police requested Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond host an Old Firm summit in the aftermath of the match and on Tuesday Celtic and Rangers agreed to an action plan in an effort to avert repetitions of the bad behaviour on and off the field.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and his Rangers counterpart Martin Bain said the clubs had moved on from the match.

The sixth Old Firm derby of the season will take place at Hampden a week on Sunday, with the League Cup the prize, while there will be a further fixture in the Scottish Premier League, with that title also at stake.

While Lennon faces an eight-match touchline absence, with the fresh charge adding to his prior penalty, McCoist will miss the Hampden final and the April 2 SPL clash with Dundee United.

The teams have the right of appeal, although it is not yet clear if one will be lodged.

McCoist insisted yesterday he was focused on last night's Europa League match with PSV Eind

hoven and would address the issue of his ban after the match in Holland.

He said: “That's news to me. I'll have a wee think about it after the game tonight.”

Tuesday's summit addressed numerous issues surrounding the Old Firm clash, including alcohol bans, fixture scheduling and bigotry and sectarian behaviour.

Lennon has been the subject of death threats recently, both through the mail and online.

Lawwell believes Lennon's personal situation contributed to his reaction at the final whistle and the confrontation with McCoist, saying: “There was no way we could condone Neil's behaviour. He slipped below the very high standards we have at Celtic and he recognises that.

“In terms of mitigating factors we need to understand what's going on in his life at the moment.

“He's a man who is under enormous pressure as Celtic manager, but other than that he's got to put up with the live ammunition going through the post, the bomb threats, 24-hour surveillance.It's quite a lot to take on.”

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