Friday, May 04, 2007

Another fines mess

If you’re going to slag somebody off you better make sure its not football’s decision makers. Hearts were yesterday fined £25,000 for Vladimir Romanov’s infamous "monkey" rant at Scottish referees and the media.

Rangers, on the other hand, were fined just £8,820 for sectarian chanting in the away fixture against Osasuna in the UEFA Cup.

UEFA explained that the decision was made because Rangers have been trying to stamp down on sectarianism. A larger fine for the Spanish club also suggested that UEFA did not hold Rangers to blame for the other problems at the fixture.

UEFA admitted that there was sectarian behaviour displayed – for the second year running – by travelling Rangers fans. But they still cut the fine compared to last year’s £10,000. It’s hard to see UEFA as anything other than cowardly. If Rangers are not held to account for their fans’ behaviour then the fans will continue to behave badly.

It might be unfair on the decent fans and those that are working to cure the club of this blight but, unfortunately, this is a situation where the tail wags the dog. Until Rangers are properly punished the idiots will continue unabashed. Sadly UEFA don’t have the stomach for the fight.

In the light of UEFA’s inaction the SPL might look to have treated Hearts harshly. And, no doubt, the news will send paranoia levels soaring at Tynecastle. But because UEFA are cowardly shouldn’t mean the SPL follow suit.

The punishment is a sign of impatience at Romanov’s increasingly tiresome rants that were making his club - and by extension the Scottish game - an object of ridicule. Like everyone else the SPL feel it’s time for Hearts to do their talking on the pitch.