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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 16:48 UK

Scottish managers hail SFA appeals proposal

Dougie McDonald shows the red card to Celtic's Scott Brown
Scott Brown was sent off by Dougie McDonald in Celtic's 1-0 defeat by Rangers

Managers are welcoming a proposal that is set to strip Scotland's referees of their ability to uphold their own decisions in the appeals process.

The Scottish Football Association has drafted a plan for an independent, three-strong panel to examine appeals against disciplinary decisions.

At present, match officials decide whether an appeal can proceed.

Hearts' Jim Jefferies, St Mirren's Gus MacPherson and Hibernian's John Hughes are backing the proposed change.

The present system has been criticised by a number of managers this season, including MacPherson, Hughes and Rangers' Walter Smith.

But details of the SFA's proposal emerged following fresh calls for change from players union PFA Scotland, Celtic and the Glasgow club's supporters' groups, plus the Scottish Premier League.

It's awfully hard when you feel you've made a mistake to put your hand up to it because it makes you look incompetent

Hibernian manager John Hughes

Celtic and their fans, who had threatened a boycott of away matches if the system was not changed, had been angered by referee Dougie McDonald's decision to stand by the red card he showed to Scott Brown during February's derby defeat by Rangers.

MacPherson was just happy to welcome the change rather on dwell on the reason why it had now come about.

"It is just the way Scottish football is, when the clubs with a wee bit more power speak, it then thinks we maybe need to change," said the St Mirren boss.

"We had highlighted it a couple of seasons ago and managers prior to that had highlighted the failings and now it is good that there is going to be change and hopefully it keeps everybody happy.

"It always takes time for change when you are dealing committees and so many different opinions.

"There are obvious failings with the current system and the SFA has to be applauded that it actually has changed.

"I think, at the recent SPL managers' meeting, it was suggested that that was the way it should go."

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith on Wednesday revealed a draft proposal for the overhaul of the under-fire procedures was set to be submitted to the organisation's board for approval.

It is thought that this would establish a three-strong appeals panel that would decide whether to reject or uphold a referee's original verdict for claims of wrongful dismissal.

This is similar to the system currently operating in England and it is understood the panel could be made up of a member of the SFA's referee development department, a former player and an ex-manager.

Match officials will still have an input, but they will no longer be able to veto any appeal.

The new proposal will also recommend reducing the time it takes for any disciplinary investigation, a number of cases having previously dragged on for months.

Smith's statement was issued hours after SPL counterpart Neil Doncaster revealed he had written to the SFA urging a reform of its appeals process and demanding the removal of the referee's right of veto.

Jefferies thought it logical to remove an inherent conflict of interest in referees sitting in judgment on their own decisions.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"There aren't too many who are going to agree they got it wrong because it doesn't make them look too good," said the Tynecastle boss.

"I'm sure common sense will prevail and it'll be sorted out."

However, the Hearts manager questioned the need for the match referee to be invited to address the panel, saying: "It may be better if he's not and let them make a decision on it."

Hughes was delighted with idea of a panel to examine decisions.

"I'd like to think there's going to be an independent guy on there," said the Hibs manager.

"Hopefully, it's an ex-footballer or an ex-manager, someone who knows the game, who knows all the dos and don'ts.

"I feel it just takes the pressure away from the referee as well.

"It's awfully hard when you feel you've made a mistake to put your hand up to it because it makes you look incompetent."



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see also
SPL calls for new appeals system
07 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL open to new plastic pitches
07 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic support threatens boycott
07 Apr 10 |  Celtic
Smith rejects Celtic card claim
07 Mar 10 |  Rangers
Celtic fume at lost Brown appeal
04 Mar 10 |  Celtic
Clark praise for Old Firm referee
28 Feb 10 |  Scottish Premier


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