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Levein fears Scottish game at risk of becoming ‘sanitised’

Hearts manager Craig Levein claims the Scottish Football Association’s disciplinary approach risks removing the competitive edge of football which is loved by fans.

Hearts and Aberdeen were hit with an SFA disciplinary charge this week over a confrontation in their game last weekend, while Rangers and Celtic suffered the same fate and Hoops skipper Scott Brown also received a charge following his post-match celebrations.

Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom revealed on Thursday that he was anticipating the kind of “blood and thunder” derby which he feels English football has lost when he takes his side to face Levein’s Hearts on Saturday.

The former Barnsley and Leeds boss claimed more lenient refereeing in Scotland has maintained the derby edge which has largely disappeared on the pitch south of the border.

But Levein fears SFA compliance officer Clare Whyte is leading Scottish football in the same direction.

Levein, who expects to have Michael Smith and Uche Ikpeazu back from injury against Hibs, said: “It’s very difficult to get as close as you can to the edge so you are competing to a very high level but not overstepping the mark.

“And my view on how these things are viewed by the compliance officer is that people in Scotland like to see competitive football, and this derby match will be competitive.

“And God forbid there will ever be a day where we take that out of this fixture.

“We just have to be careful that we don’t sanitise the football so much in Scotland that it becomes what the supporters don’t want to see.

“Scottish people like to see competitive edge in the games and I think the compliance officer at times is in a hurry to dilute that. I don’t think it’s necessary.”