Monday 20 November 2017

Scottish FA chief's regret as referee McDonald steps down

SCOTTISH Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has expressed sympathy for Dougie McDonald, who has retired as a category one referee.

McDonald stepped down on Sunday night in an attempt to move the spotlight away from his role in the crisis engulfing Scottish football.

McDonald's decision to rescind a penalty he had awarded to Celtic last month, and subsequent admission that he had misled his supervisor and Hoops' manager Neil Lennon over the circumstances, sparked the escalation of events leading to last weekend's referees' strike action.

Regan, who earlier this month rebuked McDonald for his "white lie" at Tannadice, said: "I feel sorry for him. The system has let him down. He was clearly in the wrong, he admitted that and was punished. I feel many out there have decided his punishment wasn't serious enough and as a result he's been left with huge pressure on him.

"There's a lesson in there for Scottish football. We need to put processes in place to give these guys the backing they need."

In an effort to avert last weekend's strike action, which saw four Premier League games played using officials from Israel, Luxembourg and Malta, the SFA offered referees a range of conciliatory measures, including a blanket ban on comments about match officials.

But the officials insisted they would not back down as they ruled out any chance of a "quick fix".

Regan reiterated his desire for criticism of officials to be dealt with "more seriously and with urgency".

He said: "We've made promises about taking tougher action. We need to be much quicker and consistent with punishments and be seen to be taking the issue a lot more seriously and with urgency."

Former top official Stuart Dougal has called for points deductions for clubs who repeatedly question the integrity of referees. Regan did not rule out the sanction, but insisted the measure would take some time to implement and may not be welcomed by clubs.

"It's one of a series of measures, an interesting one -- I'm not sure the clubs would support that," he said.

Irish Independent

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