SPL news

SFA seeking resolution to referee strike action

November 15, 2010

The Scottish Football Association has vowed to do "everything possible'' to avert a referees strike at the weekend.

John Reid
EmpicsCeltic chairman John Reid has been criticised for calling for Dougie McDonald to be sacked

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SFA president George Peat described a decision by category one referees to refuse appointments as a "sad day for Scottish football''.

"We will do everything we possibly can to broker a deal before the weekend because it's obviously important that officials are on duty on Saturday and Sunday," Peat said. "We do not condone the strike but we must sympathise with the grievances of the referees.''

He added that fulfilling fixtures at the weekend depended on the outcome of a number of meetings he hoped would take place.

And Peat appeared to make a veiled criticism of Celtic, who have been at the heart of the controversy since Dougie McDonald rescinded a penalty he initially awarded to the Glasgow club against Dundee United on October 17.

In a prepared statement, Peat 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.''

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 McDonald over his admission that he misled Parkhead manager Neil Lennon on the circumstances surrounding his U-turn.

Asked about Reid's intervention, Peat said: "We haven't even discussed that but the comments certainly weren't helpful. I don't want to personalise this, I'm just talking about comments which have been made recently which have not helped.

"Referees have always had criticism. Most clubs fortunately take that as part of the game and they leave them alone. If we consider that some of the comments have brought the game into disrepute, then we would take action, but we haven't considered that yet.''

Celtic have refused to comment on unsourced reports that they welcome the strike action, in the hope that it leads to an independent inquiry and UEFA intervention. But UEFA has insisted it will not become involved in the dispute.

Plans to temporarily promote lower-grade officials are also unlikely to succeed. It is understood that all 10 category two referees who were present at Sunday's Scottish Senior Referees Association meeting backed the unanimous vote of their category one colleagues.

There have been suggestions that UEFA and the English Premier League would be approached if the strike action was confirmed.

But it is understood the Premier League do not have sufficient numbers of officials themselves to offer elsewhere, while all UEFA referees are all drawn from individual associations.