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Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

SPL bosses agree silence on refs


SPL managers have been critical of referees this season

Scottish Premier League managers have agreed to refrain from speaking about refereeing decisions after matches.

The idea was put forward at the first meeting of the new SPL working group and all managers have now signed up.

SPL chairman Lex Gold said: "The managers believe there has been too great a focus on refereeing decisions in post-match interviews.

"The working group contributions so far have been superb and we are keen to take agreed recommendations forward."

The move comes in the wake of this month's Hampden meeting, at which six managers were invited to air their views on how the game could be improved.

That gathering was deemed a success, although Kilmarnock boss Jim Jefferies did voice his dissatisfaction at being excluded from the proceedings.

The referees who are coming in are having to gain experience in quite a hostile environment at times

Rangers manager Walter Smith

However, Gold has revealed that the next session will be open to all top-flight managers.

"All of our working groups have is the past been made up of a small cross-section of our clubs," he said.

"But, given the healthy interest in this particular group, all 12 SPL club managers will be invited to attend the next meeting, scheduled for early February."

Rangers manager Walter Smith, who attended the first working group meeting, believes public criticism has put too much pressure on referees this season.

"It's a step forward and a show of intent from managers that there is an acceptance that there are too many headlines being grabbed by the fact that we may be a little critical of referees at times," he said.

"When it was brought up at the meeting, all the lads who were there were in agreement that it would be a good thing to try.

"In Scotland just now, we seem to have a younger group of referees. We've lost a lot of experienced referees over the last few seasons.

"The referees who are coming in are having to gain experience in quite a hostile environment at times, which isn't easy.

"This initiative can help them."


Celtic manager Gordon Strachan also backed the new move, saying: "I've been there myself but we think we should take the pressure off referees a bit.

"I've been to games, and I've heard people talking against us about referees and they've missed the beauty of the game.

"They've missed the good goals and the good performances because everybody talks about refereeing decisions.

"If we want to promote the game properly, we must promote good goals and good play and there has been a lot of that this season.

"Whether it works or not, I don't know, but it's worth a try."

Several SPL managers have incurred the wrath of the Scottish Football Association and the league itself following criticism of match officials in post-match interviews.

Falkirk head coach John Hughes was the latest to be censured for his views on the competency of referee Iain Brines after a 2-0 defeat by Celtic in August.

"We hope that the Scottish FA embraces what we see as a new and positive approach and one that chimes in with the agreement we are seeking to establish with them, including a regular review of the referee service we receive from them," added Gold.

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see also
Smith cleared as Bairns censured
16 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier
Jefferies angered by summit snub
14 Dec 08 |  Kilmarnock
Gold happy with first SPL summit
03 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier

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