Wednesday 13 December 2017

Celtic ref gets SFA backing

The Scottish Football Association have backed referee Dougie McDonald over his penalty U-turn during Celtic's 2-1 victory over Dundee United on Sunday.

With the scores tied at Tannadice, McDonald pointed to the spot when United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis challenged Gary Hooper, only to order a drop-ball following talks with assistant Steven Craven.

Television pictures appeared to back the linesman's decision as Pernis touched the ball, but McDonald came in for fierce criticism after the match from both managers.

That prompted the SFA's head of referees development, Hugh Dallas, to defend experienced official McDonald.

Dallas said: "I think the main thing is that the final decision that was taken was correct.

"And the referee is well within his rights to change his mind as long as he has not restarted play.

"Dougie, after having given the decision, then received information from the assistant referee that the goalkeeper had played the ball.

"There is a really good replay of the incident from the offside-line camera, which clearly shows the ball changing direction - and that was something that Dougie did not enjoy at the time.

"So the decision was overturned and it's not the first time that has happened this season. It's already happened down at Kilmarnock, where the assistant referee and fourth official overturned a penalty decision."

United boss Peter Houston accused McDonald of being "very inconsistent" after the game and claimed the referee was quick to give penalties against his team.

But Dallas said: "We criticise match officials when they get things wrong and here we are criticising them when they get things right."

Hooper went on to snatch a late winner but Celtic manager Neil Lennon claimed the situation was "unacceptable" after speaking to McDonald during the game and seeing a replay of the incident after the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match.

However, Dallas claimed that Lennon had changed his opinion after further discussion.

"Neil Lennon took the time to go to the referee's dressing-room about 40 minutes after the match was concluded," the former World Cup referee said.

"They had a discussion and Neil accepted that the decision was correct. It was just unusual.

"I think Neil was extremely frustrated that he did not have the opportunity to get an explanation at that time, which is not possible.

"He received a full explanation, which he found acceptable, after the match."

Meanwhile, Dallas has hailed the appointment of 31-year-old Willie Collum to referee Sunday's Old Firm derby as proof of a positive future for the country's match officials.

"I think the younger referees are now coming through to the top level and we see a young referee taking charge of the first Old Firm game of the season," Dallas said.

"It's his first Old Firm game on Sunday and that is a young referee who only seven or eight years ago was operating within the youth academy, so it augurs well for the future."

Press Association

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