Saturday, October 30, 2010

SFA chief calls for ref respect

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan
Regan hopes to hold back the tide of criticism against referees

New Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan plans a "respect" campaign early next year after a month dominated by refereeing controversy.

Regan headed an investigation that reprimanded referee Dougie McDonald for inaccuracies in explaining a decision.

Rescinding a penalty award had led to criticism by Celtic and a media debate.

"I would like to see a campaign launched for respecting the referees and respecting the game of football in this country," said Regan.

"This whole handling of referees by managers, players and clubs has got to stop.

"In the last four weeks since I came into this role, my desk, my inbox and my telephone has seen nothing but discussions about referees.

I will be making recommendations to our board for implementation in the new year

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan

"We are getting discussed across the world for the way the referees are being treated and I do feel it is time we stood up and said enough is enough."

The former Yorkshire County Cricket Club chief executive instigated the inquiry into McDonald's decision to rescind a penalty he initially gave to Celtic during their 2-1 Scottish Premier League win over Dundee United on 17 October.

For several days after the match, SFA head of referees Hugh Dallas explained that McDonald had changed his mind after being alerted to his mistake by assistant Steven Craven.

Craven subsequently quit the professional game, believing he had been made a scapegoat, and is reportedly ready to tell his side of the story in the media this weekend.

The inquiry discovered that McDonald had quickly realised his mistake and reversed the award after he himself prompted the discussions with the assistant, who confirmed that goalkeeper Dusan Pernis had got the ball in a challenge on Celtic striker Gary Hooper.

Ref post-match comments unclear - Regan

McDonald was warned on Friday over his failure to give an accurate account of events and, in the intervening period, Celtic had written again to the SFA seeking an explanation of a refereeing decision.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon criticised referee Willie Collum's award of penalty against his side in a 3-1 defeat by Rangers.

Collum and his family soon became the victims of threats over the phone and former referees have warned that more officials could be considering their futures because of the onslaught of criticism.

"As much as I regret receiving a resignation from Steven Craven, who has been in the game for 15 years, what it has allowed me to do is carry out a very thorough investigation and understand the processes that follow from the end of the game and how that is collected and managed at the SFA," said Regan.

"I will be making recommendations to our board for implementation in the new year."

Regan expressed concern about the threats received by Collum but confirmed that there would be no investigation into the decision to award Rangers a penalty.

"No-one likes to think that a referee has been threatened in any shape or form," he said. "I had severe concern about that. Obviously, we will look at that and respond at the right time.

"But there is no investigation planned. It was a review that was called for, but I took the decision that the decision should stand."

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