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Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Tuesday, 19 October 2010 12:29 UK

Referees chief Hugh Dallas backs Dougie McDonald ruling

Tannadice penalty drama angers bosses

By Chris McLaughlin

Scotland's chief of referees says Dougie McDonald was correct to change his decision to award a penalty to Celtic against Dundee United on Sunday.

McDonald was criticised by Celtic manager Neil Lennon and United's Peter Houston amid the confusion.

But Hugh 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."

McDonald awarded the penalty after goalkeeper Dusan Pernis came out to challenge Celtic striker Gary Hooper then changed his mind and awarded a drop ball inside the penalty area.

The decision incensed Lennon, who remonstrated strongly with the fourth official, while Houston was angry after the match, saying that the referee had been too quick to give Celtic the penalty in the first place.

Neil Lennon accepted that the decision was correct. It was just unusual

SFA head of referee development Hugh Dallas

"Dougie, after having given the decision, then received information from the assistant referee that the goalkeeper had played the ball from the better position that the assistant referee was in," Dallas explained to BBC Scotland.

"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.

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

Dallas says McDonald admitted some fault in his handling of the situation but thought that some of the criticism had resulted from such changes of decision being so rare.

Dallas backs ref over penalty

"It was untidy and we accept that - and so does Dougie McDonald - and Dougie sets his standards very high, but in my opinion he was right not to award the penalty," said the Scottish Football Association's head of referee development.

"Referees have to make a decision in a split second and I think, in this instance, he has managed to collect his thoughts and other information within 10 or 15 seconds.

"And I thought the Celtic players accepted it very well. That is credit to them also and we got on with the game."

Dallas claimed that even the Celtic manager, whose side went on to win 2-1 through a late Hooper goal, now accepted that the penalty award would have been a wrong decision.

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

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see also
Collum to referee Old Firm derby
19 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Houston pans 'below average' ref
17 Oct 10 |  Dundee Utd
Lennon joy at 'wonderful' Celtic
17 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Dundee United 1-2 Celtic
17 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier

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