Saturday, 27 November 2010

Scottish referees have a case

Although the withdrawal of labour by Scottish Category One and Two referees has regrettably led to the postponement of Dumbarton's home match against Alloa Athletic today, I have considerable sympathy with their case. What is unacceptable, however, is the way that lower league clubs are being punished for a problem essentially caused by managers, players and fans in the SPL - while Premier sides are spared the impact through the importation of overseas officials. Once again, those with least resources are being made to pay for a problem not really of their creation - though no doubt refs will point out that they get a fair bit of verbal aggro at all levels of the game. I'm told that had the action been targetted at a few clubs only, a legal backlash over contractual obligations would have followed. It's hardly just, but that's the way it goes.

Is industrial action the best way for officials to seek to end a culture of abuse and intimidation? Rangers' manager Walter Smith thinks so. He's a good man. So does Chick Young. And so does Grahame Smith of the STUC. It certainly seems to have quickened the reaction of the SFA and the SFL. According to Scotland on Sunday, referees will now demand points deductions for clubs who ignore warnings about their behaviour and continue to verbally abuse officials and question their integrity. Notes commentator Tom English: "As ever, the unspoken word in all of this is Celtic, the Parkhead club being at the heart of this increasingly bitter spat with the SFA."

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