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You can only push referees so far

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Jim Spence | 09:30 UK time, Monday, 22 November 2010

If referees strike, do you think Scottish football should, or will, support them?

The withdrawal of labour is one of the most fundamental rights of any group of workers.

Given that in Scotland we like to brag that our football is rooted in a sense of community, and that we cherish the working class values of our footballing managerial giants like Bill Shankly, Jock Stein and Sir Alex Ferguson, will those involved in the game feel duty-bound to support a group of fellow workers in struggle?

A assistant referee is confronted by an exuberant fan at Ayr's Scottish Cup match against Sunnybank on Saturday. Photo: SNS.

An assistant referee is confronted by an exuberant fan at Ayr's Scottish Cup match against Sunnybank on Saturday. Photo: SNS.

Because make no mistake, the refs are fighting here for their reputations.

The proposed strike shows you can only push people so far.

Some comments in recent times have attacked the integrity and honesty of referees and would be actionable in a court of law as potentially defamatory.

Now the refs have blown the whistle and said enough is enough.

Accusations of incompetence are one thing, but recently it's all become a lot darker.

MP Pete Wishart has called for refs to tell us which team they support, but what about those who don't support any team?

Many journalists support a team, myself incuded - does that mean we cannot report objectively on the game?

There have been suggestions that Uefa should hold an investigation into refereeing in Scotland.

But what exactly they would be looking for?

Would it be for evidence of corruption, bias, incompetence, or what?

Just what is being alleged and is there any direct or indirect evidence which justifies the besmirching of people's names and reputations?

If there is, then let's absolutely have it out in the open.

But nods and winks and hints are not the way to do it.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It's amazing the way this has all unfolded, I never thought I'd see referees strike because of criticism. Have they not realised that they have always been, and always will be, criticised. With regards to questioning their integrity and honesty... Don't lie to the managers and that won't happen... I personally have a great respect for referees as they do a difficult job and let's be honest, most of their problems stem from the players lacking integrity and honesty (Diving, encouraging cards for the opposition etc.) But I think a strike isn't going to achieve anything.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm afraid that I am of the opinion that the SFA have made a major contribution to the current situation. A referee admits that he was not truthful in a match report and yet is not punished, I've seen people lose their jobs for doing similar! One of the Glasgow clubs questions the integrity of referees and no action appears to be taken against them, yet the current Scotland manager has been fined for doing so in the past, as has a former club of his. Meanwhile the SFA and referees wonder why the fans perceive a bias against non Old Firm clubs.

  • Comment number 3.

    1. At Jambonbey- I think the issue here is that referees are not being criticised just for incompetence- they're being accused of favouring or being biased against, certain teams.

    I think certain managers and clubs have gone too far and stirred up a witch-hunt.

    There's always been paranoia in Scottish football, particularly regarding the Old Firm, and I believe it's now gone too far. The mistake of one man is now being used to bash the whole referee body, and I think that is unacceptable. If you don't have the referee, you don't have the game. I think the referees have a valid point to make, and I support their action. If that means clubs lose money or it spoils people's fun- tough.

    Respect the job that referees do and respect the fact that they have a very difficult job at times because of the behaviour of players and managers. They've got the guts to do a job where they have vile abuse thrown at them constantly from fans, officials and club employees. Not many of us would want to do that job. Who on here would want to do it? If you think you can do a better job than the current referees, get your job application into the SFA and work your way up.

  • Comment number 4.

    Lennon is the reason for this. He got lied to so what, surely what mattered was that the decision was correct! If mcdonald had just told him he had overturned it because he made a mistake do you think he would have just accepted it? The original reason he gave for the complaint was that the decision was incorrect so when that was proven to be wrong they had to make up some other outrage. The old firm game they complained yet again about the penalty and mculloch yet failed to see what happened with their own players and just accept that they lost because they were the second best team on the night this goes ditto for tynecastle where lennon acted with complete impudence and yet is STILL appealing. They have no shame at celtic park and all of this is just to put pressure on the refs to get an advantage.

    Yes refs make mistakes and their own infallibilty is part of the issue but you take what you get. The refs should consider explaining decisions after the match as this would surely calm down some of this ridiculous over the top compaining. Managers should accept that mistakes will be made as they are only human and the old adage about managers lose their jobs if they do badly is complete nonsense. No manager has lost their job because of a refereeing decision but because of their own lack of ability

  • Comment number 5.

    Since referees are classed as being amateurs can they go on strike? Normally a strike is withdrawal of labour from a job you are paid to do on a professional basis! If they are simply saying that they are (en mass) not available for this weekend then the SFA should call their bluff and tell them their services are no longer required. You can't sack an amateur, so they has no entitlement to an employment tribunal!

  • Comment number 6.

    2. Good points.
    3. Who would want to do it? Those that are doing it, that's who. don't kid yourself that they do it purely for the love of the beautiful game. The wedge that comes with it for 90 minutes work is a big attraction.
    4. "Lennon got lied to, so what". So you don't care about the integrity of the game then?

    Personally i believe that referees have been protected for too long from criticism of poor performances. Striking is not the answer. What they're asking is that they're allowed to carry on underperforming. If they've genuinely had enough lets see some jacking it in. A shortage of top level refs is the only way anyone is going to take note and do something about the situation. This won't happen of course because of the healthy payment involved in the job.

    This goes deeper than Rangers v Celtic folks.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lennon is not to blame for this. He questioned McDonalds reasons for overturning the decision and was lied to. Peter Houston was far more scathing of McDonalds performance in his after-match comments but has not been asked by the SFA to explain his comments. Lennon then went on to ask, quite reasonably, why Collum was able to award a penalty when he had his back to the incident, and was not given a response. As for the Hearts game, Lennon quite rightly asked the 4th official why a blatant handball was not penalised when the score was 1-0. Three potentially match-changing decisions, and an explanation was asked for each of them.
    This season and last, six SPL managers have publicly stated that they question the ability or willingness to get a level playing field at Ibrox regarding refereeing decisions. Obviously, these managers have all been the victims of 'honest mistakes' and cannot question the integrity of the referees involved, but why when the refs repeatedly make these mistakes are we suddenly unable to continue to criticise? Could this situation where the refs are throwing the rattle out of the pram simply be a knee-jerk reaction to the reports yesterday where 80% of the grade one refs failed a test designed to guage their knowledge of the rules of the game?

  • Comment number 8.

    This is not an attempt to defend the standard of refereeing in Scotland or any other country for that matter. It is an attempt to get people to see sense.

    It is about time that referees fought back. Over the last few years, not only here in Scotland but all over the world, refereeing decisions have become the excuse for all that is bad in the game. Managers have blamed refereeing decisions for mistakes made by themselves and their own players.

    Referees have a very hard job attempting to control a game in which players might be

    1. Cheating by diving (we quaintly call it simulation)
    2. Trying to intimidate referees by chasing them about the pitch shouting and harassing them when a decision goes against their team. Players will run almost the full length of the pitch to verbally abuse the referee.
    3. Attempting to get other players booked or sent off. How many players do we see flashing the imaginary card to the ref after they have been tackled
    4. The list could go on …..

    Additionally we see managers in post game interviews defending or ignoring players behavior and criticising perfectly good refereeing decisions. Examples are

    1. Jim Jeffries recently launched a verbal broadside at the referee of the Celtic vs Heart game insisting that a goal was offside. Wrong. The tv replay did show the goal was good. At not point ( an I apologise if I missed the event) did he rescind his criticism and congratulate the officials for a good decision. At no point did he say in any post match interview that it was bad defending that cost them the goal.
    2. During the Celtic vs Arsenal game Eduardo dived for a penalty. Arsene Wenger did his level best to explain that he did not dive despite t evidence. Arsene Wenger if often ‘Looking elsewhere’ when controversial incidents occur.
    3. During the last Old Firm game Broadcroft was accused of diving but nearly everyone who saw the game. No criticism of the player by the manager
    4. Aiden McGeady was criticised, correctly in my view, for diving a couple of times last season. There was no criticism of the player by club officials.
    5. The list could go on and on. ………….

    AT NO POINT have I heard managers acknowledge that their criticism has been wrong and the officials got it right.

    I am also sick of tv pundits spending endless amounts of time analysing and re-analysing decisions. It gets to the point where it is slowed down to view frame by frame and criticism offered. Where the hell is the officials opportunity to view these incidents on replay. The official has a second to make a decision and then live by that decision.

    Referees have always been criticised and always will be. What they need is a level of honesty by all concerned and a recognition of the fact that they are not perfect and will sometimes make mistakes.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Fair play to referees, i am fed up with managers of every league blaming results on refereeing decisions, the longer managers are allowed to hide behind their teams inadequacies by blaming it on the ref the longer the integrity of the game will be tarnished.
    Rugby union has a culture of respecting the referee and it is policed severely from the top, any derogatory comments get punished quickly and decisively, the result post game comment is focused on the performance of the teams not the man in black.

    Until football wants to rid the game of this seriously (from FIFA etc.) then the referees have an impossible task. The managers and media have a lot to answer for in forcing this strike, why are referees expected to be infallible when players can make mistakes and sometimes deliberately cheat by diving etc.?

  • Comment number 11.

    #8 I can assure you that Jim Jeffries has apologised in the past (last season I think) for wrongly accusing a referee of getting a decision wrong. I believe he also acknowledged he was in the wrong over the Celtic "offside" goal but it was not given a lot of coverage as it was some time after he made the initial accusation.

  • Comment number 12.

    In your piece you say: "MP Pete Wishart has called for refs to tell us which team they support, but what about those who don't support any team?
    Many journalists support a team, myself incuded - does that mean we cannot report objectively on the game?"
    You yourself may be the most honest guy around, but I wonder how you would get on refereeing a cup final between Dundee and Dundee Utd ... and supposing you gave a 'contestable' decision in favour of the Arabs: how do you think that would be reported?
    I can't understand why this is causing a fuss among referees themselves or (for some reason) much of the media: for referees, I believe this is already a requirement in several countries. Consider international football, as the 'gold standard': in competitive matches between 2 nations it is a requirement that the officials are not from either of the competing nations ... for the very simple reason that it can then be seen (as far as is reasonably practicable) to be the case that there is no pre-existing bias on the part of officials.
    The principle is one of transparency and ought to extend to domestic leagues.
    Then there is the business of how, in Scotland, serving referees sit in judgement upon themselves ...

  • Comment number 13.

    The fact that "Dougie, Dougie" McDonald still has a job as
    a referee is a complete joke.

    He admitted to lying to the referee observer and the manager
    of an SPL team too. That "Dougie, Dougie" even considered the
    possibility of telling a lie and concocting a sham of a story
    is alarming.

    That he appears to have got away with it and only had a minor
    slap of the wrists is shocking.

    I'm sure that most referees in the SPL and elsewhere are fine,
    upstanding individuals and do their best to give an unbiased
    and truthful opinion each and every time.

    The fact is that referees are human and make mistakes on the
    odd occassion.

    Making honest mistakes is one thing, but deliberately lying
    is quite another and would lead to dismissal in most other

    I for one am not a paranoid fan and do not like the route my
    club is taking with regards to questioning almost every decision
    made by the referees.

    However, I also deplore how a referee that has admitted to lying
    is still in his job and hasn't been sacked... yet.

    Let's not turn against good referees who are in the vast majority.
    But let's not turn a blind eye to a referee who admits to lying

  • Comment number 14.

    This is going to backfire on the referees. The reason there is so much negative publicity and scrutiny is the number of poor refereeing performances over recent years. Much of the recent attention is aimed at a guy who has been show to be dishonest. They are in a high-profile job so they are always going to be under the spotlight. What do they expect?

    If they are concerned for their safety, that's an issue for the SFA and the Police. The nutters who make threatening phone calls aren't doing it because of the media - they would behave like that anyway, so what going on strike will do is unclear.

    If they want the support of the average fan, walking out on the weekend of the Challenge Cup Final was a major blunder. The SPL and SFL should draft in foreign referees who most likely will show the local officials how it should be done.

  • Comment number 15.

    Perdeption of bias plays a big part in this affair. It has been known for some time that West of Scotland teams are more likely to win a penalty than teams from the East or North of Scotland. Why is that?

  • Comment number 16.

    Do i care about integrity yes of course but is that really the issue here? Are you saying that if the referee told lennon that he felt he made the incorrect call originally that he would have said fair enough? Lennon said he got the decision wrong then when the ref was proven correct it is that he was lied to, now at any point have these words come out of anyone at celtic part "yes we were lied to but the referee made the CORRECT decision even if he went about it in an underhand way". Surely Lennons own integrity is called into question over his complaint about mcculloch in the old firm game and the non penalty that we got? Did he not see stokes leg breaker in the first minute? OR samaras and his ninety fouls? You can't pick and choose what you like from a game when you complain about the refs, if they got many decisions wrong you just get on with it. The fact that celtic have handed in a complaint after every defeat (even once when they won!) i think that you can see why the refs are so fed up.

    THey don't just do it for the love of the game but there mistakes have not been overly costly at any match this season. You get some and you lose some but it is time celtic stop trying to feed their own fans paranoia about everyone against them. Sometimes you just don't cut the mustard and while other managers and clubs have had outbursts etc none have put the sustained campaign of pressure on like celtic. Lennon wants an apology from the ref yet did he apologise to stuart mclean who he was screaming at like a petulant school boy?

  • Comment number 17.

    People have always said that to be a referee you must be bonkers. What a thankless job they do. The magic of the game is the variety of biased opinions made about any decisions a referee makes. They have to make split second decisions and being human yes they sometimes get it horribly wrong. They do not have access to any modern tech such as replays as in rugby,so I have absolutely no time for referee bashers. Managers should all put their money where their mouth is and try it. I totally agree with the strike action for they do an impossible job.

  • Comment number 18.

    8. Some good comments. Here is a post from an ex-ref (and assistant ref).
    I don't defend the actions or decisions of all referee's - some have been shocking and an embarrassment to the refereeing society.
    I work on the premise that you take up refeering because you love the game (I did) it certainly is not for the money as mentioned in an earlier post - the abuse is not worth it and it takes years of officiating in public parks in all weathers in some godforsaken places before you get a sniff of monetary reward.

    I doubt if any reasonable person goes to work to deliberately make a mistake - even a small one in front of thousands (possibly tv millions)is immediately horrendous and the fallout can continue for days and weeks afterwards. I have made some tremendous rfereeing howlers over the years and if I could take them back I would. They were all made honestly

    The fault lies not with just referees but also with their supervisers and the players and managers. They have all contributed to the current state of affairs.

  • Comment number 19.

    Perhaps its for the best. There is something wrong here that can't just stop because we want it to. Celtic feel aggrieved about some decisions that have gone against them and infer they are unfair rather than just mistakes. Peter Houston states on national television that a referee conspires against his team but no action is taken against him and no mention is given in the press as they discuss the referee strike. Rather the focus goes on to Celtic being upset about a refs decision and a subsequent admitted conspiracy to lie about it. The BBC sportsound staff seem to be all in agreement that there is no problem and constantly criticise Celtic for even suggesting there could be a problem. With respect to this, all the discussions on BBC are based on personal opinion with absolutely no research nor expertise. In any other area of broadcasting you would expect some one to indicate that they had at least considered the problem but not on this one. Jim's sidebar talks of his lack of interst in the Old Firm. Me too. This issue splits this idea of Old Firm apart and Celtic fans have been saying this for years. The suggestion is that one team, Celtic, are unfairly treated and the mainly unstated reason for this is religious bias. I'm a Celtic fan and I'm not convinced that this is the case but tell you what, when I hear people scoffing at the idea that it might be present it makes me wonder. What do we have to fear about looking more closely at this and if we can proving the idea wrong? Perhaps the strike will open up rationale debate rather than the shock jock discussions we are more used to.

  • Comment number 20.

    I wasn't too impressed by the idea of referees striking until I read in the news article about it that the companies that the referees work for during the week are also getting hate mail. I know a witch hunt when I see one.

    Referees IMO aren't that great but football frankly has got bigger problems.

  • Comment number 21.

    "However, I also deplore how a referee that has admitted to lying
    is still in his job and hasn't been sacked... yet."

    The decision he made was the correct one thats why! Why he made up all the rubbish god only knows but at the end of the day he made the correct decision and thats what really matters and why this is so ridiculous! You are saying he lied, which he did, but did his lie actually change anything? What are you accusing his lies of leading to? If he lied and got it wrong fair enough but he didn't and that is why this is ridiculous.

    How can a refs lie ever affect a game of football AFTER the match? Also for those saying you can't be impartial are you suggesting that mark mcghees teams never turn up against celtic because he wants them to lose? Or is that as ridiculous as it sounds! You can be professional without bias and even if they did say who they supported they wouldn't be believed! The west coast is especially bad for this by suggesting that everyone has a bias towards either of the two teams

  • Comment number 22.

    Let the Refs go on strike and give them sometime off. Bring in the Rugby refs and some rugby rules like loosing ten yards for give the ref lip over his decisions and sin binning. It seems to work with Rugby, also video replays to clarify decisions when needed by the Ref.

  • Comment number 23.

    Dougie Macdonald made a gutsy call, had he not changed his mind I don't think there would have been that big a fuss after the game, because are you telling me if Pernis hadn't brought him down Hooper wasn't going to score there? Theres getting the ball and theres brushing it...

  • Comment number 24.

    21 LookieBookie you seem to be missing the point - when the referee lied does not matter - it is the fact that he lied - calling into question his integrity - ie acn you believe anything he says in the future?

  • Comment number 25.

    Let's be honest - CELTIC FC are to blame for ALL of this! Their recent behaviour from top to bottom has been nothing short of disgraceful and the authorities need to act now to put and end to all of this! No-one denies that the standard of refereeing + the match officials isn't where it should be but we are not alone on this, take a look at football and sport in general around the world and you will see people getting decisions wrong but because we live in the gold-fish bowl of the west of scotland people always believe something sinister is going on! CELTIC have been at this for years with unfounded accusations of harsh treatment from 'The Establishment' and stories of consipracy theories from the 'Men in Black' but recent events have gone too far and they way the club is behaving, and in particular Neil Lennon + John Reid, needs dealt with firmly by those in charge.

  • Comment number 26.

    This situation has arisen due to a combination of poor refereeing, excessive television and press coverage of "incidents", the existing SFA refereeing set up together with the fact that a referee has admitted lying to a manager after the game.

    Referees have always made mistakes and always will, that's a fact of life.

    What has changed is the scrutiny of decisions by TV using multiple camera angles and highlighting "mistakes" made by officials with endless analysis to justify employing an ever increasing number of ex-players and managers.
    The media are hyprocitical by virtue of the fact that they highlight the issues, question managers as soon as possible on the incidents and generally create interest following which they criticise clubs and individuals for complaining about said decisions.

    As far as I can ascertain, no one in the media thinks that Dougie McDonald has any option other than to resign or, if he won't, the SFA has to sack him as he admitted lying.
    That is what this particular incident is all about, nothing else, not about whether it was a penalty or not, just the fact that he has admitted lying.

    The incident in the OF game where the referee clearly couldn't see any tackle but still awarded a penalty appears to be rumbling on.It may not have changed the result, although there is a major difference between 2-1 and 3-1,but it needs to be addresed.

    Referees do not just referee for the love of the game, the rewards are substantial. Any who have their home telephone number in the phone book are crazy in my opinion.

    I think the stated reasons, violence against them on the field and threats against their families is absolute rubbish. How many have been threatened? The assistant at the Dundee Utd. game was said to have been threatened with his family but totally contradicted the reports.
    Is it a case of don't let the facts get in the way of a good story?

    The standard of refereeing in Scotland is poor and appears to be getting worse as is the amount of "cheating" players indulge in.
    These are the issues that need to be addressed urgently by Regan.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why the hell did he lie then. He made the right decision, I'm quite sure (only quite) that Lennon would not be silly enough to claim it wasn't the right one.

    McDonald lied, he lied, was dishonest, told porkies, is there any other way you'd like me to put it. There is one reason only for this strike the refs are worried that their West coast bias may come out and they are using Dougie the Dire Liar as an excuse.

  • Comment number 28.

    This whole episode has been blown out of all proportions by people who operate with no dignity and no thought of the consequences of their own actions.

    The most outrageous poor decision made by any official in the last month was the one made by Steven O'Reilly at Pittodrie awarding the home side an extremely dubious penalty which ultimately cost Falkirk 250k, money the club could ill afford to lose. Yet Falkirk came out and said that commenting on the decision would detract from the way the side played. As a result the press have said nothing and everyone moves on. (this is the same referee who cancelled a game last winter at Falkirk an hour before kick-off costing them a lot of money, do you hear conspirisey being banded about by Falkirk)

    John Reid's comments a frankly disgraceful. He more than anyone should know by adding more petrol to the fire the unsavoury elements of his support will see it as a green light to continue their hate campaign against certain referees. They really are a club which lacks the class currently it's long and elustrious history deserves. Stein will be turning in his grave!

    Hopefully the refs will refrain from punishing other clubs this weekend and everyone gets round the table and sort out this sorry mess. I want to go and see my club play as do all fans. People who preport to run the game in this country should be hanging their heads in shame this morning.

    Times are tough enough attracting sponsorship, supporters and investment without certain clubs and individuals dragging us all down further.

  • Comment number 29.

    Top-level referees not being allowed to referee their own country's games is one thing, but it simply wouldn't work in Scotland. Too many people support too few clubs and there's too many rivalries: if you're a Celtic supporter then presumably you can't referee Rangers either. Aberdeen fans wouldn't like their games being overseen by Rangers or Dundee United fans, and I can't imagine Celtic being happy about Hearts-supporting referees.

    Ross, Neil Lennon nearly appealed Ledley's tackle on Black, I can't see any course of action being too silly for him.
    Not really sure what this strike is hoping to achieve, but for my money there's not that much systemically wrong (apart from bad decisions, but they happen everywhere, watch Match of the Day or the Football League Show if you disagree) that couldn't be fixed by McDonald resigning or getting the sack - good decision in the end, but you shouldn't be able to get away with lying - and someone taking Lennon aside and telling him to grow up. Celtic got at least as many dodgy decisions in their favour as Rangers did in the derby - Stokes should have walked in the first minute, though that's obviously tough for a ref, and I have no idea how Samaras hasn't been sent off this season, though I'm not sure who that's been helping. Our refs aren't very good but they're not biased.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lookie Bookie said...

    "The decision he made was the correct one thats why! Why he made up all the rubbish god only knows but at the end of the day he made the correct decision and thats what really matters and why this is so ridiculous!"

    The fact that "Dougie, Dougie" lied about how he corrected
    his wrong intitial decision is even more deplorable.

    I admired him for having the courage to overturn the award
    of the penalty within minutes of realizing he'd dropped a

    If he'd lied to cover up a wrong decision that was made in
    the match that would be sort of understandable.

    However, "Dougie, Dougie" thought it suffice to lie about
    how his initial wrong decision was overturned and how they
    managed to arrive at the correct decision during the match.

    That's what makes "Dougie, Dougie" Gate all the more baffling.

    Instead of just telling the truth about how they arrived at
    the correct decision, he consciously decided to concoct a
    blatant lie.

    If you can't trust the referee to tell the truth, then who
    can you trust?

  • Comment number 32.

    I am fed up to the back teeth of clarification fc, their fans, their 'management' and their whole ethos. It really is time for them to go.

    None of this is down to Rangers, or any other team. We all get decisions that we don't like but we get on with it. It's just celtc that whinge and whinge. But that's in their background. Whinging since 1888.

  • Comment number 33.

    Lookie Bookie, you'd be surprised how many of your comments i'd agree with but you're fundamentally wrong on Dougie McDonald.

    Had he resigned over the self-confessed lie, or had the SFA had the guts to fire him it would have shown that the authorities were prepared to take action over incompetence and we would not be in the situation we are now. In all honesty i'm not happy with what's coming out of Celtic Park but they're not the root cause - they're just trying to get someone, ANYONE, to take notice of the situation.

  • Comment number 34.

    Instead of looking for individuals or a particular group to blame why aren't we concentrating on getting it right? It seems to me that the idea of an inquiry into the state of the game and the parts played by all those connected to it would be a good move. Not looking at the roles of players, managers and clubs as well as referees will only give part of the picture. I say this because behavioural changes are needed across the board so we can cut out the unsavoury things that are dragging the game down - Here is an example - diving. When a team gets a penalty through one of their players diving (cheating)- yes the referee has been conned into making a mistake - is the player punished by the manager or the club? Can't remember that happening. However if a penalty is awarded in the samje circumstances to the other team all hell breaks loose usually against the referee.

    There are definitely double standards in the game that need to be rooted out

  • Comment number 35.

    joeboldocks @ 12:12

    There is a systemic thing going on here: the status quo for refereeing in Scotland is unsustainable and has been for quite some time: nowadays, referees being able to avoid explaining decisions, or to lie and then being accountable only to themselves is just plain wrong and therefore unacceptable.

    For goodness' sake: consider the recent scurrilous e-mail found to have been circulated by the SFA's own head of referee development ... on its own it hardly inspires confidence in anyone seeking to dismiss accusations of perceived referee bias as 'whingeing' or mere paranoia.

  • Comment number 36.

    A friend said to me "they should do us all a favour... and not come back"

    the difference between referees and any other labour rights movement is that the referees are striking because they can't handle the furore that's been caused by them.

    dougie mcdonald's lying to neil lennon and to his observer has exacerbated any complaints against them due to a mistaken decision. the job of a referee is bad enough without them having to dig their own hole. unfortunately, not only has mcdonald let down scottish football, he's let down his own referees. there has been a long running complaint from celtic fans that (or even a long running joke) that the powers that be in football are against them... this now only gives them something to back up their complaints.

    the SFA should respond by promoting the clas 2 referees and give them the chance to take over SPL games for the duration of the strike, or appeal to UEFA, the FA or other associations for referees to cover.

    on a side-note and taking a more holistic view on the game in this country, it looks like the problems in Scottish Football looks as if it doesn't just cover the performance of our clubs in Europe and standard of football, nor the standard in our national team, the quality of coaching and player development... the quality of refereeing is also in need of review as well.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Dougie Macdonald made a gutsy call, had he not changed his mind I don't think there would have been that big a fuss after the game, because are you telling me if Pernis hadn't brought him down Hooper wasn't going to score there? Theres getting the ball and theres brushing it..."

    Pernis touched the ball before hooper so therefore it was no penalty so changing his mind got the correct decision which is the part that matters. If it had went the other way and he had just given it the reason there would have been a bit of fuss then it would have went to bed instead of a witch hunt that this has become.

    "1 LookieBookie you seem to be missing the point - when the referee lied does not matter - it is the fact that he lied - calling into question his integrity - ie acn you believe anything he says in the future?"

    Yes you can. Everyone lies at times to protect themselves or others and you don't question their integrity. He lied but ask yourself the reasons why? Was it because he realised he had made a mistake and wanted to correct it? He admitted he did so which he really never ever had to do! He played it out beautifully on the pitch and could have stuck to the story but by admitting he had messed up surely it shows remorse? I would trust mcdonald to referee any game as he has shown a decent level of consistency over the last few years. He should have publicly apologised for his mistakes but look at the way celtic and lennon have acted since? Completely ridiculous complaints about ANYTHING that goes against them! Lennon is even appealing his red card against hearts when he was screaming like a spoilt teenager, passion and petulance are two very different things. HE can't accept any decisions going against him and take it on the chin as these can be used to accuse of bias and deflect criticism away from himself. This is why he has got no real apology as he has victimised the whole profession purely to hide his own inadequacies as a boss

  • Comment number 38.

    I was listening to 5 Live on the way in to work this morning and someone said that they are striking due to the criticism and abuse.

    Now, criticism shouldn't be an excuse for striking - there's been some abysmal referee performances lately (not just in Scotland I may add), and criticism is justified.

    The problem is the abuse that this then leads to and the ridiculous actions by some so-called supporters who commit stupid acts of violent and threatening behaviour. That can't be condoned.

    So while I feel that the strike action is a bit OTT, you can kind of see why they may have felt pushed into it due to the behind the scenes actions they are subjected to.

    I still feel that the refs need better training though, and should have full technological support to help them get decisions right. Until FIFA step up and make this happen, they're on a hiding to nothing.

  • Comment number 39.

    In what world do Celtic not deserve an apology from Dougie McDonald?

    His lie got him out of the accusation that he'd changed his decision under intimidation from five United defenders.

    He said in the Mail he'd apologise for lying. He hasn't. Celtic are adamant that he should. And I reckon UEFA would see it from Celtic's point of view.

    Celtic are not stirring up a witch hunt. They are demanding an apology that any fair-minded observer would agree that they deserve.

  • Comment number 40.

    LookieBookie - In my opinion Dougie McDonald is a good consistent referee but he has now put himself in an impossible position - in terms of telling lies not everyone is a scottish premier league referee and not everyone is Dougie McDonald - so human nature being what it is (generally hypocritical) there will be an outcry from supporters when he makes his first major decision that they do not like

  • Comment number 41.

    I fully support the referee's. It's time football clubs realised that it is the decisions made by Chairman, Boards, Managers and Players that determine their clubs position. It has become all to easy to blame referees for losing/not winning games. It's always someone else's fault. What about tactical or signing decisions made by managers? What about funding decisions made by Chairman/Boards? What about players who dive or cheat to get other players sent off, who claim throwins when they know it should go against them and who injury fellow pro's with dangerous tackles. Each club should look inside first before picking on the easiest target in football.

  • Comment number 42.

    Clarification FC are a disgrace to Scottish Football.

  • Comment number 43.

    Had he resigned over the self-confessed lie, or had the SFA had the guts to fire him it would have shown that the authorities were prepared to take action over incompetence and we would not be in the situation we are now. In all honesty i'm not happy with what's coming out of Celtic Park but they're not the root cause - they're just trying to get someone, ANYONE, to take notice of the situation.

    He wasn't incompetent as he made the correct call, you could call him dishonest but not incompetent. He kept his job because he made the correct call in the end and thats how he held on to his job. His lie was really at worst a white one as it cost nobody anything and it was the correct call in the first place! To me an apology would have been enough but it should have all ended here. Refs in england are paid huge sums of money but it hasn't improved it at all and if you watch any major league every ref makes mistakes it is just more prevelant now as we have tv replays from every angle showing you stuff the ref has only one chance of seeing.

    The problem with modern football is the perception we have that things were better in the old days. You just couldn't see as many of the mistakes as there weren't a million angles etc to see things from. The game was never covered in the same detail and there was respect for the referees and opponents etc. I think the best way forward from all of this is for the refs, managers and captains to all sit down and clear the air. Refs should do monday reviews if they are deemed to have made mistakes and explain why. Managers have to stop using refs as excuses and also criticise their players for their own discrepencies ( smith had a real go at lafferty for his dive but then didn't for mcgregor/broadfoot which i was disappointed about) and captains only to the refs and the should respect them with any foul language getting them a caution, ditto with any player who isn't a captain who is within say 2 yards of the ref.

    A bit of respect on both sides would go a long way to solving this issue

  • Comment number 44.

    The behaviour of celtic football club towards officialdom this season has been appalling. Whenever the cameras switch to Neil Lennon all we see is a tirade of expletives and you don't have to be a well practised lip reader to get the gist of how officials are being verbaly abused, influenced and compromised. At the old firm derby they were beaten by the better team on the day and the so-called "dodgy" penalty did not make a difference to the final outcome, yet the blame for defeat was placed solely upon the unfortunate referee . At Tynecastle Lennon's actions and language were disgusting and unjustifiable and fully merited his dismissal to the stands where he should now remain until the end of the season at least. Now we have the ridiculous situation of Labour politician and former Secretary od State for Northern Ireland, a man supoosedly feted for his mediation skills and diplomacy, showing appalling judgement by throwing in his ill-considered tuppenceworth. It is time for the SFA to come out in full support of their hardworking referees. After all where will they get replacements from and in the spirit of the game we all accept the referee/arbiter's decision as final, (please take note Mr Reid). To prove their point the SFA should start by making an example of celtic. They should ban Lennon from the touchline for the rest of the season, dock Celtic 10 points and seek the immediate resignation of John Reid immediately, if he doesn't possess the integrity do the decent thing himself. Their actions this season have shamed the fine history of a once great club, renowned for fair play and fine football and brought disgrace upon the legacy of the late and great Jock Stein.

  • Comment number 45.

    I do watch the Football League Show, MOTD, and MOTD2 and strangely found this one thing. If you watch the game at a better angle you get to see if the right decision was made. Who'dve thunk it.

    The referee's are in the wrong they need to come out and admit that they deserve the criticism, they way they act is appaling. They act as if they do no wrong and when they do they are judged by their BFF's and nothing happens.

  • Comment number 46.

    The fundamental problem is that there is no respect for any officials in any sport. The clubs and players want to run the game and will cheat and give out abuse as they see fit.

    The endless tv coverage doesn't help any sport and we now have "experts" deciding whether decisions made by referees, umpires etc are the correct ones. They forget that it's only their opinion and not a fact.

    The suggestion that Scottish referees should all be sacked if they strike is a great idea because then there will be no football at all as without officials there is no game.

    Obviously the najority of the problem comes from the paranoia from Celtic FC who think that everybody is against them for historical reasons. If that is indeed true then they should be commended for managing to win so many trophies over the years despite the referees and the SFA's best attempts to stop them.

    Personally I think there is a problem with referees in Scotland and that problem is that they take far too much stick off players and managers. Foul and abusive language is a sending off offence and they should be prepared to use it at every opportunity from the first minute onwards.

  • Comment number 47.

    In McDonald's case the SFA would have to take action against dishonesty, but i'd rather on the whole they dealt with incompetence. Dishonesty shouldn't be a big issue amongst football refs as there is no bias, or conspiracies, etc....

  • Comment number 48.

    I think to be honest, reading a lot of the posts here, people are not fully understanding the decision made by the referees.
    When they make mistakes then yes, they should be critiscised as managers and players are when they make mistakes.
    What should never happen is their personal safety being threatened and on occasions going as far as threatening their families, that is just disgusting and there should be no place for this and i fully support their decision to strike in this case. People need to learn that there is a line that cannot be crossed.
    This has turned into a witchhunt and the constant calls for them to be sacked and their integrity called into question will not help this.
    John Reid's comment were nothing more than pandering to the Celtic support and deflecting away from his own and the Celtic board's failures but it was uncalled for and unneeded, Stewart Regan had already stated this would be reviewed so no need for his further slur towards referees.

    Maybe without the referee's some people might realise just how important they are to the game and the calls for them to just be sacked are even more ridiculous, the younger inexperienced refs are more likely to make more mistakes than the current crop and would just turn this into even more of a farce.

  • Comment number 49.


    Officials are treated disgracefully and it simply isn’t acceptable for so called ‘professionals’ in the game to wind up peoples emotions or for so called ‘respected’ people in the game to be fanning the flames.

    Iain Wilson #8 says it all at but I have to add that it is galling to hear Jim Traynor taking the moral high ground against John Reid, when he himself has said repeatedly that DM should have been sacked.

    No doubt in an ideal situation DM might well have been dismissed but the situation is far ideal and we simply do not know what exactly transpired. Nor can we have faith in the people and processes at the SFA and the implications of that are almost unthinkable.

    So maybe that is why JR made the point about tenability as he couldn’t very well condemn integrity on one hand and condone it on the other, which is what he would have been doing had he not called for action against DM.

    So yes, there are much bigger issues at stake. Not least of all, the levels of faith in the SFA and although I disagree with JR’s call for sacking, the internal review of the SFA is by far the biggest concern.

    As JR knows full well Henry McLeish will be publishing a report on the SFA (or so we are told) but I can’t see this receiving any more support than his already discredited Report, Part 1 as this sort of ‘behind closed doors’ exercise will carry little weight with the doubters however I doubt if Stewart Regan will pay any heed to my calls for openness despite the letter from me sitting on his desk.

    An untenable SFA has to be a grave concern as this raises searching questions as to their ability to fulfil their role in accordance with FIFA statutes, as I outlined in my petition to the Scottish Parliament. Any referral to UEFA will most certainly be kicked upstairs to FIFA and goodness knows what would happen after that.

    This may be far from the minds of the referees but it is one I think they should consider before Saturday however their position is understandable as was DM’s.

    DM allowed himself to be intimidated by the situation but in admitting his error he has brought this all out into the open and although he has his critics, we may well yet be thanking him.

    This intimidation emanates from within the SFA and whether it is from individuals, committees or processes we will never know unless any internal review is open and subject to external audit, but this point has been made before:

    The SFA are a slow motion train wreck of an organisation, with Groundhog Day all rolled into one, so Mr Regan has to step right up to the mark on this and establish himself as a true CEO, head and shoulders above the rest of them.

    After all at the end of the day, just to get back on topic we need an effective SFA to protect the Officials just as much as hold them to account.

    So make no mistake, the SFA are skating on very thin ice. We can’t go on like this and we can’t afford to have FIFA make that decision for us.

  • Comment number 50.

    Their actions this season have shamed the fine history of a once great club, renowned for fair play and fine football and brought disgrace upon the legacy of the late and great Jock Stein.


    Yawn, I don't think they have anything to be ashamed of. Craig Brown was out saying he never complains and the strike shouldn't affect motherwell. Thats fine if motherwell are happy to not question the refs, if they are happy with mediocrity, I personally would rather see Craig Brown show a bit of passion that Neil Lennon shows. Now I'm not saying Lennon is't a bit embarrasing to watch, im sure most celtic fans find him embarrasing. But when it comes down to it the bad decisions can ACTUALLY have an affect on the title race, and if you hate losing as much as Neil Lennon does, it matters. And lets be honest, the whole problem is PURELY down to Mcdonalds lie... It was a stupid mistake and if we're being honest, it looks to me like the United players did have an impact on the referees decision.

    Also Lookie Bookie, thats a fair point, But Pernis touch on the ball had little to no impact on it, and by bringing hooper down he DID prevent a goal, but this opens a different subject, clarification of the rule, because its foolish to think united didn't get an unfair advantage from it.

  • Comment number 51.

    The ref's will always get it in teh neck as long as the continued disregard for their authority is portrayed by the football, managers, players, commentators and fans alike.

    The thought that they are not 'football men' by many playing and managerial professionals is out of order just because the ref never 'played' at any level.

    they say that respect has to be earned, but why should a ref respect the players whenj they clearly dont respect the ref. In this regard they are quite right to strike.

  • Comment number 52.

    The best bet for all officials would be to follow the laws of the game TO THE LETTER on the same weekend.

    If EVERY unsporting incident, EVERY dive, EVERY wave of an imaginary card, EVERY time the officials were talked back to, EVERY hand-ball, EVERY use of foul language was shown the card it waranted, EVERY match would be abandoned before half-time.

    Maybe then fans, players, managers (all of whom would be sent to the stands), clubs and the SFA would get the message that the biggest faults in the game lie NOT with the officials, but with the way the game itself has denigrated into it's current hate-filled state.

  • Comment number 53.

    Anyone criticising Celtic for criticising McDonald should look no further than referee Charlie Richmond's words (as reported on on exactly the same subject, saying almost exactly the same thing as Celtic.

  • Comment number 54.

    God what is it like if the Govening body had acted yrs ago this would not be happening now..
    The abuse football refs get is a joke, from players and the managment, whos fault is this, Fifa having spoken a number of times to Footbal refs they have been feed up for years about the issues, we dont get these problems for a number of reasons Respect is one, we are allowed to explane decissions football refs are not we have open discuions with players and managment after a game that doesnt happen at football. FIFa can sort this easily allow technology in, stop the Verball abuse give when a ref makes a desision start using red cards for it it will soon stop when these premadonas cant play for weeks, book the divers not yellows red it will soon stop. Do we have these problems NO because we can sort it out mostly on the field, i throught Fifa had a respect code doesnt seem to WORK Does it. FOOTBALL seams to be run by spinless suits and not men that will stand up and move the sport on to the next generation

  • Comment number 55.

    "But when it comes down to it the bad decisions can ACTUALLY have an affect on the title race"

    The incident in question affected nothing as it was correct. Celtic will get decisions that will help them win titles (nakamura against st mirren anyone? fouls the players but gains a free kick that he scores and then go on to win the title). Everyone gets breaks and 53. the issues with celtic isn't about mcdonald but the hysterical attitude they have shown over the last few weeks comaplaining about every decision that goes against them yet not what they also gained! Hooper booked for a dive but lennon never questioned his integrity which would be the correct thing to do. You can't accuse others if you are guilty yourself and that is the key issue here.

    JR should concentrate on the people who flew banners and disrespected those that have died for the freedoms we enjoy (many thousands of irish included0 as surely that would be a better use of his time.

  • Comment number 56.

    Lookie Bookie, what are you saying? That the referees threatening to go on strike is not to do with the Dougie McDonald story? Do you not think he should apologise to Celtic for lying to them (and to the referee supervisor)? Do they not have the right to insist that he should apologise?

    Sure, sometimes Lennon is wrong when he has a go at refs (although he's right in this vast majority of his high-profile complaints). Some managers (eg. Craig Brown, who is a top bloke by the way) don't have a go at refs, but it seems unfair to single the Celtic manager out for this when most others do the same.

    The strike has everything to do with McDonald. The refs are taking a big risk here: the clubs may well call their bluff.

    And Celtic have promised to ban the fans to whom you are referring. They did not have to do this. In calmer parts of the country some people protest against so-called "poppy facism". In this case, Celtic decided to ban the protestors (probably correctly, in my opinion).

  • Comment number 57.

    The whole situation has been the fault of the Referees themselves. Had Dougie McDonald not lied in his match report and to Neill Lennon then the current situation would not be at the level it is now and had the SFA had the strength to properly discipline him the matter would be done and dusted. Celtic as a member club are quite within there rites to ask for an explanation to certain decisions.
    Also the whole Hugh Dallas e-mail affair has been blown out of proportion, but again he should know that sending the image he did could cause trouble for him and that thousands of people would find it offensive, so where was his common sense when sending it ?
    What has got to be remembered is that Grade 1 Refs are very well paid for taking charge of an SPL match in fact at $800 a time is more than many players will get in the SPL and if one of those players makes a mistake or steps out of line then he will be punished and will come in for abuse, so should a referee be expected to be immune from criticism ?
    As for reports of threats towards referees and there family, well it was reported in the aftermath of "Dougie Dougie "gate that Stephen Craven (the assistant who resigned) had been subjected to abuse and threats, but Mr Craven insisted that was untrue, so once again more lies from somewhere. If there have been any threats made towards any match official before, during or after a match then that is a police matter and the official should supply the authorities with proof so they can investigate.

  • Comment number 58.

    I can understand the reaction to DM as it now makes it impossible for him to ref a Celtic game again. You cannot have an official who can ref other SPL sides but NOT Celtic. Its just not TENABLE. Nothing to do with what people see as his professional incompetence or honesty, or any other reason outwith the integrity of the game as a whole. We cannot have a system whereby one ref cannot referee the games of one club because of dishonesty and yet others are expected to take his decisions in good faith.

    Neither can we have officials declaring their support for clubs because our pool of refs is simply not big enough and lets face it given the complexity of alliegances in this small country it would only fuel accusations of bias and not dampen them at all. In England the FA ask for this information from refs but do not publish it (and rightly so).

    As a Celtic fan on the other hand I have to say that the reaction of the club this season and last towards refereeing decisions has been very poor to say the least. It wasn't the ref that saw Celtic spanked by RossC or St Mirren last season. It wasn't the refs that lost Cetic the league last season nor the one before that. It was their players and managers that did that job for us.

    Every team gets on the wrong end of decisions some of the time. Smaller and less 'important' teams get it all the time and we all like to blame the refs when we can because it excuses our own failings. But as a club I would have expected the current board to step back from stoking the old sectarian fires and not be engaged in whispering or implying conspiracy whenever a decision goes against them. I would expect their players (i.e. Hooper) not to be commenting on refs in the media. I would certainly expect their manager not to be giving ironic comments about 'honest mistakes' by refs to the media. And I would certainly expect their Chairman not to be publicly stoking these issues by asking for fairness.

    As we all know living in Scotland, some people don't need much of an excuse to put on their religious glasses. And it cuts both ways.

    Bring back the football please.

  • Comment number 59.

    "Lookie Bookie, what are you saying? That the referees threatening to go on strike is not to do with the Dougie McDonald story? Do you not think he should apologise to Celtic for lying to them (and to the referee supervisor)? Do they not have the right to insist that he should apologise?"

    It is the catalyst but not the sole reason. Celtic have handed in complaints every single game since which along with the threats being sent to DM and WC i think you can see where they are coming from. I have already said that mcdonald should have publicly apologised but i doubt you would see the outcry about this from a smith or a brown as they would have taken it for what it is.

    "And Celtic have promised to ban the fans to whom you are referring. They did not have to do this. In calmer parts of the country some people protest against so-called "poppy facism". In this case, Celtic decided to ban the protestors (probably correctly, in my opinion). "

    They haven't banned them though as this involved around 1000 members of the green brigade and celtic know exactly who they were. The banners were not exactly smuggled in were they? So don't pull this one. On rememberance day who exactly wasn't wearing a poppy? What reason is there not to wear one? It represents those who have died in service of the country of which celtic is a part so at least respect that and at no other ground in britian did they have anti poppy banners so please don't insult peopls intelligence. If you don't want to wear one don't (like the celtic board members at the agm last november) but don't protest them without even understanding what they are about which the banners showed a complete lack of.

  • Comment number 60.

    No sport can tolerate its officials being abused or threatened. Football is no different. It's why sanctions for on-field abuse (verbal or physical) of referees is always so severe.

    Off the field, it's the job of the SFA to protect its referees and in this case it has failed to do so. This is what the strike is about. Unless the SFA get a grip of the clubs (managers and chairmen), it's very hard to see how this will be resolved.

    Next week is a shut-down, but what about the rest of the season? Unless the SFA take decisive action to protect the officials, I can see the strike continuing for some time.

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't know why people haven't considered that the lying scenario is just a result of the massive pressure that referees face. It's more credible for the referee to say his assistant told him he was wrong, rather than he just realised his error. The decision was right of course, and this referees strike is about much more than those events. A week off from football will remind managers, players and fans that with no referees there is no game.

  • Comment number 62.

    If I stood screaming abuse into someone elses face, as we have seen football managers and players do on a regular basis, in the middle of the street on a Saturday night, then I would be in line for a quick trip in the back of a van to the cells..

    Why do the police let the agressive abuse of officials go on?

    If the 'sports administrators' cannot control this then the courts should..

  • Comment number 63.

    Lookie Bookie, I'm not getting into a big, convoluted conversation with you about Britain, Ireland, war, anti-war, the complications of supporting soldiers but not politicians, etc. Having had Catholic Scottish soldier friends who've endured difficult tours of duty in Northern Ireland, I know how horrible a subject it is. But Celtic have acted decisively against the protest.

    What threats were sent to Dougie McDonald? Are you referring to the ones the press attached to Craven, which never happened? The threats to Collum are disgraceful, but do you really think the referees would all go on strike because of this? Would it not make more sense for them to appeal to all the clubs, police, etc to help them out more? No clubs can stop some of their fans threatening referees, so a strike about threats would be completely inappropriate and ineffectual.

    Lennon's been banned for Tynecastle. He's had his punishment. What's different here from what happens frequently with other managers in other games? He was right about the handball in this game, and he was right about the penalty against Rangers. What other games have they handed in complaints about? St Mirren? Aberdeen? Dundee United last weekend?

    This strike is specifically about McDonald.

    And do you really think that Smith and Brown would not demand apologies if referees had lied to them?

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    To Lookie Bookie (only mention you because you were the last to post)and others - can we get away from the issues that are really nothing to do with the state of scottish football but brought into it by the idiots with banners and head back to the matter in hand - I was enjoying and agreeing with many of arguments made from different points of view - let's get back lads eh?

  • Comment number 66.

    Clubs such as Celtic and Rangers especially, must back off referees. What if we had no one to do the job ? What then ? When it gets personal and dangerous, of course, referees as family members to look after, will demand an end to this current out of control situation. What else can they do other than strike ? When a chairman of a big club adds fuel to the fire, the result is the yobs apply their 'justice'. If the John Reid or any other club boss has something inflammatory to say, it should not be said in public. As for all of this paranoia, grow up all of you football managers, players and fans. Leave the refs alone - what they do is all part of the beautiful game. Remember all humans make mistakes especially the players who are at fault for the vast majority of missed chances, own goals, penalties, etc. That game at Tannadice saw Celtic squander chance after chance yet they complain when the ref actually makes the correct decision on the reversed penalty award. Ironically, video cameras proved this. You cannot take the mistakes out of the game so why try to do so with the refs? Technology is a bad idea for the same reasons. If we continue down this path, the game will become totally sanitised and boring. But hey wait a minute, let us all stop this dangerous harassment of the Refs. Show respect to people doing a very difficult job to the best of their ability. Decisions they make are blown out of proportion and should not lead to threats against family members - THAT IS PURE WRONG.
    Shame on all who contribute to this through the spoken and written word and enacted by the thugs.

  • Comment number 67.

    Bottom line here is that Referees get no support. Bring in the technology everybody but Mr Platini and Mr Blatter wants to oversee decisions only on:

    2.Red Cards
    3.Goal line calls

    and leave the ref to oversee anything else in game. If there is an element of doubt ref consults with technology and therefore cannot be wrongly accused of anything at the end of a game.

  • Comment number 68.

    And do you really think that Smith and Brown would not demand apologies if referees had lied to them?
    Wasn't there an incident last year when Rangers accused Willie Collum of lying in his official match report about sending off KMiller against DUtd?

  • Comment number 69.

    Rob04, indeed. But I think I missed the inevitable media backlash about Rangers dragging the game into disrepute.

  • Comment number 70.

    The SFA starting to speak out:

    "In a prepared statement, Mr Peat (SFA president) said: "Unfortunately the behaviour of some people in recent weeks has tarnished the image of Scottish football. It has demeaned the game. The culture of inference, innuendo and conspiracy theories must stop."

    Mr Peat did not name John Reid but there was little doubt he was referring to the Celtic chairman, who last week called for the SFA to sack Mr McDonald over his admission that he misled Parkhead manager Neil Lennon on the circumstances surrounding his U-turn."

    Sounds to me like some hefty fines / point deductions might be on their way...

  • Comment number 71.

    brochtoonboy - technology is fine but it can only be used for factual decisions - was the ball over the line or not - all others like penalties, red vards etc are opinion - as the laws of the game state "if in the opinion of the referee"

  • Comment number 72.

    By the way, I agree with everyone who says referees need more respect in general from players, fans and managers of all clubs (in all countries).

    And the clubs, fan groups, police and SFA need to work together to do everything they can to protect referees' safety.

    Also agree that Lennon's been OTT a few times.

    But I honestly believe that this stike is specifically about McDonald. It is not the logical reaction to any of the other issues. And Celtic have the same right as every other club to demand what they see as fair treatment ie. an apology from McDonald.

  • Comment number 73.

    If Scottish referees go on strike, I hope their action spreads to England.

    The managers and players are not going to change their ways, the FA down here in England with their RESPECT campaign is just a joke.

    A couple of things to improve the situation.

    1. Referees to review all "contentious" decsions and admit if they made a mistake. There is nothing worse than a referee simply sticking to the "I was right" theme when clearly they are wrong. That just gets peoples backs up. So what if they make mistakes, they have 1 pair of eyes, even with the help of an assistant that is still only 2 angles from which to see things. And, yes they make mistakes but find me the perfect manager or perfect player and then they can take the moral high ground.

    2. All players when they become professional must learn the rules. The reason is 2 fold, they should know the laws anyway but they should be made to referee games to understand what the players attitudes are like, see how much they would enjoy being whinged at when even a valid free kick is awarded against them.

    3. All pundits, the Grays, Hansens et al should be made to referee games and then have their performance reviewed. Very easy to criticise from the sideline.

    4. Referees have to show in their decision making that they are not swayed even in their subconscious by the top sides. A foul at OT, or Ibrox, or Celtic park, or Stamford Bridge by the home team is punished in the same way that an away team is punished. Tony Pulis the other week effectively cast aspertions on refs being swayed because one of the arguments he used for having the clubs relegate the worst 3 performing refs was that they would not be so influenced by the big team syndrome as they would only have 6 votes, the smaller teams would have 14. Has anyone brought Pulis to book for that ? No. So, has he a point

    5. Refs should be going onto the pitch each week refereeing Team A v Team B, not Celtic v Hamilton, or Rangers v Aberdeen, or Man u v Stoke,or Liverpool v Wolves. They should NEVER refer to some players by the christian name whilst others are given the number treatment. That alone is showing a lack of impartiality

    Refs need to improve their act, yes but hey they also have bad games but tell me how many times do fans see their clubs have mares !!!!!!! The man in the middle is vital, the authorities seem loathe to punish unwarranted attacks on them, strike action may just concentrate the mind of players, managers and authorities.

  • Comment number 74.

    But I think I missed the inevitable media backlash about Rangers dragging the game into disrepute.
    And you also missed the public call for an enquiry and his possible resignation from the RFC Chairman.

    On a wider note, while some may want UEFA to investigate refs they really should be careful about what they wish for given the track record of this organisation.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    As an only-occasionally competent assistant at Junior level, but who packed it in at the start of last season, I do think the SFA need to look at themselves too.

    The crux of the DM affair is that the right decision was arrived at the right way, but then an alternative explanation was cooked up - not to mislead Celtic, but to make it look better to the supervisor. Why? Because the power of the supervisor over a referee's career is immense and being marked down badly over a single incident can ruin a whole season. Thus referees, and especially ambitious ones, will go to amazing lengths to keep supervisors happy. Given that the supervisors are all ex-referees, with their own way of doing things, the assessments can be hugely subjective - and inaccurate to the point of incredulity sometimes. DM was, in my view, wrong to do what he did and should probably have been demoted a grade, but when it's got to the point that referees in high profile games feel the need to concoct stories to keep supervisors happy, the whole system of assessment needs to be looked at.

    That said, the fact that the same story was told to Lennon is neither here nor there. He has no right to receive an explanation of any decision in the game, especially not in the manner he chooses to go about it. As he shows precisely zero respect for referees, he deserves none in return. Sorry, but it's that simple.

    Managers who calm down, ask politely, listen and then choose to agree / disagree get respect from referees and the benefit of an explanation. The ranters and ravers don't. Again, that simple.

    Finally, the SFA should be throwing the book at managers / clubs who attack a referee's honesty and / or competence. Attack a decision - fine, that's accepted. Mistakes are made. Horrible ones sometimes. And when we make them, we accept that we deserve fair criticism. Attack the individual though? That's different and should be dealt with harshly, as should the touchline histrionics and the eyeball-to-eyeball bawling at the ref, assistant or 4th official from a foot away. Yes, football is passionate, but there's a line to be drawn too.

    I support the strike as a means of reminding people that there is no game without the referee, but then everyone needs to take a step back and work out how to engage properly and move on.

  • Comment number 77.

    What exactly would be the point in a UEFA investigation into this country's referees?

    I can tell you the result right now: They aren't bias they just make mistakes, and what one set of fans sees as a mistake their opposition will believe was correct.

    Referees should be allowed to speak up and explain decisions and, yes, apologise for mistakes, if they genuinely make too many then demote them (but who replaces them???)

    At the same time players and managers need to start showing respect to the referees and the referees should start enforcing the rules that already exist to protect them, namely bookings for dissent and red cards for foul/abusive language aimed at them. Too many times you can lip read players/managers foul mouthed abuse that if I said to a sunday league ref would have me sent straight for an early bath - and rightly so.
    While in any current SPL game this could lead to abandonments due to so many red cards it's the best way that referees can take control of the game again.

    Any player or manager questioning a referees integrity should be severely punished, it should not be swept under the carpet as it seems to be so often.

  • Comment number 78.

    Rob04 the difference between our two incidents is that mr collum refereed the last old firm game at celtic park and as you have stated yourself mcdonald can't referee another celtic game. I think it shows the difference in reaction to the two incidents but you are one of the level headed celtic fans and must see that yoru club has taken this way too far. Lennon can't accept his own failures and that is a dangerous trait to have to believe you are infallible.

    Mark the poppy is not a political symbol and has no link to politics. This is the very issue i am talking about as you don't seem to understand that it only represents the troops and nothing else (conflicts or otherwise). Britian behaved terribly in ireland and i am a republican and not a monarchist. I don't agree with the conflicts we are in just now but i do respect those who die to allow us to speak especially with two cousins also serving tours in each respective conflict. It wasn't just a few fans who flew the banners it was hundreds and you are not telling me that they all got banned... infact not even a majority have been but john reid didn't lie he just wasn't completely honest (he did say he would ban ALL those involved)

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    Lookie Bookie, I agree with many of your points about the poppy. It's not really the point, but I believe those who choose not to wear it (eg Jon Snow) see their decision not to wear it as a political (ie. anti-war) decision. They feel unable to disassociate the poppy with warfare (although I believe they acknowledge that its intention is solely to support the soldier).

    Anyway, my main point on how I responded to your banner comment was that Celtic were clear about where they stood on it. But I recongnise that you may know details about it that I do not.

    I do not agree, however, that this, or anything else, would affect Celtic's right to demand an apology from McDonald. And I can't see Celtic backing down on that specific issue, no matter how much George Peat tries to isolate them.

  • Comment number 81.

    Many of the points made are absolutely spot on but unless the SFA/SPL take this by the scruff of the neck we will continue to talk round all the different issues and not make any progress.

    All the major parties including referees, clubs, the players (union)etc have to get together to identify all of the issues (gripes/complaints, give them a good airing and come to a sensible and agreed way forward, this needs to include setting out any punishment for those who break the laws/rules in the future.

    Will it work - probably not. Too many have the ingrained culture and twisted views and beliefs that brought us to this point

  • Comment number 82.

    Isn't it about time that UEFA gets it's house in order and creates a pool of 'decently paid' professional referees which of similar standard, well regulated and monitored - that can travel Europe officiating at games with total confidence in their neutrality?

    These refs wouldn't be influenced by their familiarity of living and working in a particular region/country or by any cultural allegiances. The best ones getting the bigger games as a reward for their percieved impartiality.

  • Comment number 83.

    The last comment about having European referees is maybe a possibility but how far do you take it. Ultimately, it could be a logistical nightmare. Good thought but maybe just too difficult.

    Surely, we need to give the players, managers, authorities, Tv companies and the fans a "culture shock".

    As someone said, how about applying the rules strictly one weekend and lets have games where 10 penalties for shirt pulling are awarded, lets have 10 bookings for dissent, lets have games that end up being voided as one team has bdeen reduced to beyond the minimum 7 players.

    Remember Graham Poll ? Remember that night at Highbury where Rooney swore at him so many times ? Poll was trying to "manage" the player, to "manage" the game. That is symptomatic of what is wrong, time refs refereed games and did not manage them.

    Apply the rules STRICTLY,you dont need strike action, one weekend of chaos will soon bring the players, managers and clubs bcak into line,and if it does not, continue to send off 10 people where the rules dictate that is what you should do, award 10 penalties for offences not penalised in the penalty area but are penalised outside.

    Referees should realise they have the power to improve not only their lot but the game in general. Use it

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree with you on this one jim. Referees are human they are going to make mistakes and i do think they are genuinely honest ones!! For Celtic FC and their manager to come out and state that celtic have had historical biased by referees towards them as a club is complete and utter tosh. What proof do they have and would this stand up in a court of law, the answer to both these is NO and NO. As a dundee united fan we have decisions go against us regurarly against every club in scotland, you dont here us going on about why we didnt get this and that. Neil lennon is acting like a petulant little school boy and he really needs to grow up. Referess are not dishonest and do not go out onto the football park to deliberately give decisions against teams they do not support, i find this whole situation unbelievable. Without referees they would be no football, maybe clubs and managers should remember this !!

  • Comment number 85.

    arabian83, Neil Lennon has made no reference to historical bias.

    John Reid intimated that he believes it happened in the past.

    Maybe he's right, maybe he isn't.

    But perhaps the picture of Tiny Wharton giving John Greig a Masonic handshake in the centre circle could form part of his evidence?

    As could Jim Farry being found guilty of deliberately not registering Jorge Cadete's transfer to Celtic.

  • Comment number 86.

    Phew, well done post 76 (Mark Thomas) - the most restrained, sensible and informed piece of writing i've seen on the "controversy" thus far...

  • Comment number 87.

    The idea of referees declaring which team they support would lead to all too predictable, pathetically insular, arguments.

    i) There would be a hugely disproportionate amount of Partick Thistle fans (a favourite club for at least one Old Firm groupie in denial?)

    leading to . . .

    ii) Old Firm fans resolutely ignoring whichever team the referees stated and insisting they declare: 'them or us?' As that is all they really care about.

  • Comment number 88.

    34. At 12:18pm on 22 Nov 2010, GEORGE MACKLE wrote:

    Instead of looking for individuals or a particular group to blame why aren't we concentrating on getting it right?

    Absolutely right. And likewise, well done to #76.

    The Dougie McDonald incident at Tannadice is not the catalyst, it is the straw that broke the camel's back.

    We need to get away from the common held opinion that "the referee is always wrong" and to do that, every party needs to accept their share of responsibility in the current situation. SFA, SPL, SFL, clubs, managers, players, referees, media, supporters...we are ALL to blame to varying degrees. Now we ALL need to put it right.

    All the problem's surrounding referee's start from the top. By indulging pundits & commentators with a multitude of replays & refusing officials the opportunity to view one, the match officials are immediately at a disadvantage. There is also a supreme amount of arrogance flowing through the higher level of refereeing which must be limited.

    As much as I dislike rugby & lots of the people that play it, we can learn one valuable lesson from their manner of officiating: treat everyone like adults & respectable professionals. Discuss issues properly with players & managers alike to allow transparency and a vein of common courtesy to spread throughout the game. And if somebody does not act like an adult or a respectable professional? Discipline them for it, but at least you have tried.

    Suggestions to repair the problem:

    1) Permit the use of video replays (where possible) for the 4th official to review instantly.

    2) Allow only captains to approach the officials, unless other's are invited.

    3) Introduce the sin-bin for selected incidents.

    4) Both Manager's & Captain's to have a de-brief after the game with the officials to clarify incidents from both sides.

    5) Review panel to be held on a Wednesday after the weekend's games to review any controversial incidents identified during the de-brief meetings & decide on any disciplinary procedures.

    6) Allow retrospective punishment for certain offences (i.e. simulation) so that the review panel wield the power to make a difference.

    7) Send match officials to train with clubs occasionally. That way a rapport gets the opportunity to build without becoming over-familiar & both sides get to see the other is actually human.

    8) The refereeing body should hold educational workshops throughout the game to ensure everybody is aware of the rules & the interpretations. Don't blame ignorance, stamp it out.

    The quicker we can get away from discussing referee incidents for every single game, the better. I want to watch & discuss football, not controversy.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    I still can't believe that it's Celtic that are in the dock after a referee admitted lying to Neil Lennon. But I'm going to stop banging on about it and go away now.

  • Comment number 91.

    I've watched George Peat give his press conference and it would be fair to say that if he's making the decisions then it's pre-judged. What a biased yet gutless statement.The man was afraid to name either John Reid or Celtic yet inferred that they were at fault.

    The blame lies with the referee who lied to Lennon and the supervisor AND the SFA who should have taken decisive action earlier instead of trying to sweep it under the carpet.

    As far as I can see Peat contributes nothing to the game but gets all the jollies while I and thousands of others buy season tickets and attend matches only to be subject to ever poorer refereeing as seasons go on.
    An improvement in standards of refereeing and the whole discipline set up is long overdue and should be a top priority. I ber Stewart Regan wishes he'd stayed at Yorkshire CCC even though they are known for the odd spot of infighting.

    Finally, as I've said previously TV needs to tone down the spotlight, you can't fan the flames and then criticise clubs for reacting.

  • Comment number 92.

    The situation we find ourselves in today requires transparency, yes referees make mistakes, we all do, technology is required to confirm it was a simple mistake. the financial implication for clubs, especially the Old Firm makes this a must, goal difference or points total at the end of the season could be the difference between qualifying for the champions league and the financial windfall it provides, or perhaps going out of business, ask yourself this question, where would Rangers be now if they had not qualified in the past two seasons. The SFA should stop burying their head in the sand and hope the furore disapeers, it will continue until we have change which is long overdue, we need to respect all participants in the game, mostly we need to respect supporters who have been short changed for years. As Jock Stein said"Football without fans is nothing"

  • Comment number 93.

    To move above the mainly partisan blinkered comment could I highlight the following points.
    Football is about opinions. Few refereeing decisions are totally black or white.Yes it could be black and white, with technology, whether the ball crosses the goal line, touchline, byeline etc but often not black and white as to how it happened. Did it flick off someones hand/arm on the way there, did the fact the ball touched a hand affect the outcome,who touched it last, did the ball play the man or vice versa plus many other variations such as off side, pushing, shirt pulling tripping etc. Many variations of a rule or rules possibly being breached before a goal is legitimate. Fans, players, managers and directors who at one end of the pitch are totally convinced there team should have had a penalty would be screaming injustice if a penalty was awarded for the same incident in their penalty box. Refereeing is about knowing the rules and when and how to apply them as honestly and as fairly as you see it in a split second.
    Perhaps if the media, players and management including directors accepted that in the main refereeing decisions are about judgement calls based on fairness and honesty they might persuade their fans to take a similare view. Lets face it what is black to one half of the old firm is white to the other and while these fans, players managers and directors accuse referees of bias conspiracy, incompetence would you trust any of them to make fair honest decisions on a pitch??
    To focus minds more on rules ie black and white as opposed to judgements and fairness. On Saturday, Kilmarnock defender kicked the ball towards the touchline, ball going at pace hits assistant referee, obviously going into touch if it had not hit him, he keeps flag down, ball still in play. Would it have been FAIR if Miller had stuck the ball in the net? A conspiracy? Incompetence? Reasonable and fair would be a throw-in to Rangers but also against black and white rules or adhearance to them. Now if that was an Old Firm game and Millar had scored????

    So beware what you wish for. Take away judgement and the freedom to act fairly, and the trust that requires of the referee and assistants in favour of black and white rules inflexibly applied and you could end up in a far more serious and unfair situation.
    Im Scottish but would it have been FAIR if David Weir had actully just caught the ball in the dying minutes of the last holland scotland game at Hampden instead of trying legally with his head. Denied Holland a goal and as the referee showed a red card casually walked off the park. Would Holland have scored with 2 or 3 minutes to go??
    Maybe unfair but.........

  • Comment number 94.

    Full support for blogcritic for a really positive post with good suggestions. Looking forward instead of back - any chance the BBC could send it on to the PLS/SFA etc

  • Comment number 95.


    Some very forward thinking proposals, I agree with most, however I don't believe the SFA would sanction them unfortunatly, think of the media coverage it would begin a whole new media bun fight when the manager and players could be interviewd on camera and why not ref's too. The advertising fee's would go throug the roof

  • Comment number 96.

    I tend to agree that Celtic have overplayed this in the last week or two, however as I said in Jim's blog a couple of weeks ago on the DM situation, "How can Dougie McDonald remain as a top class official when he has admitted lying about one of his decisions?"
    We are all to believe that the man in the midddle is the arbiter of truth and fair play. If he tells lies, for whetever weird reason he has in his mind, how can we trust anything else that he says or does?
    This situation has come to a head and a strike has been called, but I for one believe that had the SFA acted quickly and decisively on the DM affair there would have been no fuel for the paranoid fire.
    I do not think there was an "agenda" by referees against Celtic but this has been allowed to simmer and come to the boil and I do not think that anyone could hold it against referees for having a subconscious resentment to the way they have been denegrated by Celtic. But they must also look to their own and ask themselves what disservice was done to their cause by Mr McDonald. Instead of blind loyalty to their own colleague, they must look to him to douse the flames by showing some honour, and I for one would also look to Messrs Lennon and Reid to do their bit to calm the situation by making public statements in general support of officials and rather than paying it lipservice, follow it through with calm analysis and after match discussion with officials rather than public rants.
    Although I must say that at the outset of this affair at Tannadice, we were told by both Mr McDonald and Mr Dallas that Mr Lennon did go to the referees room some 45 minutes after the game and a very polite and calm discussion ensued. It is only since it emerged that lies, sorry untruths, were told that the temperature has risen.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thank you Mark Thomas @ #76 and Howling_Sheep @ #89.

    Many contributors should check the facts before forwarding conspiracy theories. McDonald told his porky trying to escape censure from the supervisor in the stand. Not to stick one up Celtic. He should be punished for lying but the SFA procedures that led to his actions must also be in the dock.

    As for Lennon's habitual and disgusting behaviour on the touchline, in any other workplace such public displays of thuggery would attract police action and instant issue of his P.45. He is not alone, and should not be made a scapegoat, but he is certainly high profile and current.

    I do not believe that referees have an agenda against any club. I certainly know that a small minority of fans, and is not just the Old Firm - my own club is not immune for example, that have any number of bigotted and ignorant agendas that have nothing to do with football.

    It is they that should be excised from the game and let the vast majority of us enjoy it again.

  • Comment number 98.

    You have to think that this situation could only happen in Scotland, a country which seems to be fixated on the notion that referees are corrupt and biased; it's embarrassing and infantile. Everyone connected with football in this country has to realise that this constant questioning of the integrity of referees will kill the game. Additionally. allowing foreign referees to referee our games would simply be an admission that we are incapable of running our own game. What sponsor would want to be associated with such a Mickey-Mouse set-up? Maybe the ba' is up on slates and we should just all go home!

  • Comment number 99.

    Take a look at the current ranking of UEFA officials,, to see what UEFA currently thinks of the overall standard of Scottish refereeing.

    We have one referee in the Elite category, the same number as Luxembourg, and we have another referee in the Premier Development category (which is the 3rd tier).

    Wether or not Celtic are being too aggressive is NOT the main problem here, as a Celtic fan fyi i do believe they are going about this in the wrong way though, the biggest issue here is that the standard of refereeing is just not good enough. You can cite TV and multiple replays all you want, but TV and the subsequent money that it brings is a must have lifeline for Scottish Football, so don't go complaining about the drawbacks that it might bring. Without TV revenue, as limited as it is, Scottish football would be in a far worse state than a pending referee strike.

    If the SFA wants to try and avoid situations like this, then i suggest that they pull their fingers out and do more proactively. Let's start with training up better referees. Then, mindful of the pressures that are on them, go ahead and make them full time professional referees and pay them accordingly. I'm quite sure that as full paid, high earning professional ref's, these guys will be a lot happier than they currently appear to be.

    Putting aside the main talking points that have aggrieved Celtic over the last few weeks, there are countless instances this season and last of just plain poor refereeing in ALL games across the country. Some get highlighted more than others, but i honestly believe that the overall standard is just at a shockingly poor level.

    The SFA need to act, and do it now, and making thinly veiled references to John Reid and Celtic, a la Mr Peat, is not going to do anything other than stir up the controversy further. If the SFA feel that Celtic are in the wrong, then man up and do something about it. Fine the club, fine John Reid, fine Neil Lennon. Don't make inusinuations in a press conference that will just stoke the flames of paranoia amongst some of my other fellow Celtic fans.

    If, in the SFA's eyes, Celtic are bringing the game into disrepute, do something about it.

    However, if that is the course of action they decide to take, let them not forgot that Mr McDonald did that in the first place....

    Oh and for those trying to defend Dougie for his "little white lie" that had no consequence on the game itself, don't forget to move the bus that innocent Dougie throw his assistant referee under...

  • Comment number 100.

    Sorry but this is just a smokescreen by the officials to take attention away from their sub-par performances. Lennon was lied to by a match official...if Alex Ferguson of Wenger were lied to, what would their reaction be? No sorry but SPL officials are just not good enough to officiate at the highest level and instead of facing up to that fact they will now try and bully the clubs into their terms.


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