Lawyer Paul McBride blasts SFA's Rangers verdict

The lawyer who represented Neil Lennon says the Scottish Football Association is "dishonest" and "biased".

Rangers assistant Ally McCoist won his appeal against a touchline suspension, while Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf avoided bans for misconduct.

And Paul McBride QC, who represented the Celtic boss in front of the SFA, responded by describing it as "the laughing stock of world football".

A spokesman for the SFA declined to comment in response.

Celtic manager Lennon will on Tuesday return to the dugout following a touchline suspension that followed his side's stormy 1-0 victory over Rangers in the Scottish Cup on 2 March.

Lennon reacted angrily after an exchange of words with McCoist on the touchline at the conclusion of the game.

But the SFA's disciplinary committee upheld Rangers' appeal against his own automatic two-match suspension, saying McCoist had no case to answer.

Defender Bougherra was sent off during the match and also held the referee's arm in an attempt to prevent him issuing red and yellow cards, while forward Diouf was shown a red card for dissent after the final whistle.

However, while both Rangers players have now been fined and severely censured for their behaviour, McBride believes the SFA has been too lenient on Celtic's title rivals.

"The SFA are tonight officially the laughing stock of world football and they have been shown to be not merely dysfunctional and not merely dishonest but biased," he told BBC Scotland.

"Because McCoist, who undoubtedly said something that provoked a reaction from Neil Lennon that caused a four-match ban for him, has received no punishment at all.

"We know that Bougherra, who man-handled the referee not once but twice, doesn't get a ban.

"We know that El-Hadji Diouf who is involved in an alteraction in the tunnel with a Celtic physiotherapist refuses to leave the park and, given a red card and throws his top into the crowd against police advice isn't given a ban either.

"What is any sensible person to think of that set of affairs?

"Frankly, anybody with the tiniest brain could only regard them as being biased and prejudiced.

"They are not rational, they are not fair and they are not consistent in the way they have approached the matter with Neil Lennon and Celtic in general.

"And tonight I think people will be scratching their heads in amazement and disbelief at the way the SFA conduct their affairs and continue to conduct their affairs."

Rangers have expressed themselves pleased with the decision about McCoist but were surprised that their players had been fined.

"Rangers have apparently said this is a victory for common sense," added McBride.

"So, if a Celtic player tonight manhandles the referee, throws his top into the crowd, abuses other players, causes reaction among management and no action is taken, Rangers will presumably will tell us tomorrow that's a victory for common sense.

"I don't believe anybody thinks that to be correct."

Celtic had successfully challenged SFA rules to reduce Lennon's touchline ban, but McBride said that he and the club's chief executive had hoped that the line had been drawn under their dispute with the governing body.

"We all hoped that," added McBride. "Peter Lawwell declared last week there is no war against the SFA.

"There shouldn't be. We all wanted to sit down together and get on and make things better and have a better dialogue and then we have ludicrous decisions like today that will only inflame the fury of many Celtic fans out there feel."

Lennon distanced himself from the comments but said he would refuse to comment if asked if he agreed with them.

"I don't think Paul was speaking on behalf of the club," he said. "That was his opinion and I value his opinion obviously, but he is not speaking on behalf of myself or the club.

"I don't want to make any more comment because I will end up in the stand or have a heavy fine.

"But if you think it is fair then a lot of people are burying their head in the sand on this one.

"I find it interesting that, after all the fall-out from that game, I am the only one who has been banned."