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Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 26 October 2010 13:11 UK

Old Firm referee Willie Collum receives threats

Referee Willie Collum
Collum was taking charge of his first Glasgow derby on Sunday.

Sunday's Old Firm match referee Willie Collum received a series of threatening phone calls at his home after the game.

In one of them a caller warned: "I'm coming to get you and your family."

Senior officials at the Scottish FA say some referees have considered resigning because of the level of criticism they receive from clubs, fans and the media.

Collum, 31, in charge of his first Glasgow derby, became the focus of anger after he awarded Rangers a controversial second-half penalty.

Rangers went on to win the Scottish Premier League match 3-1.

Another official, Steven Craven, resigned after criticism of his role in a reversed penalty decision the previous weekend.

And former Fifa referee Kenny Clark believes that people could be put off becoming officials if they are not treated with more respect.

"We're perhaps heading for a crisis unless people start to recognise that we must ease the pressures being put upon referees," Clark told BBC Scotland.

"If referees and assistants at the top level choose to resign then it diminishes the pool of officials able to handle matches in the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League.

There have been occasions when referees have received threatening letters, letters with razor blades contained in them

Former referee Kenny Clark

"That impacts on referee recruitment, and young guys are going to be less inclined to take up refereeing if they see this kind of abuse directed at those at the top of the tree."

Clark, who retired from refereeing in 2008, says he never experienced death threats himself, although public abuse was not uncommon.

"Before my number was ex-directory I had a couple of abusive phone calls, and I frequently had to put up with abuse in the streets or at social occasions," he said.

"The really annoying thing is if that people seem to think they are somehow entitled to be abusive towards referees regardless of the fact you may be accompanied by your wife or children.

"Now is worse than it was, say, 10 years ago.

"There have been occasions when referees have received threatening letters, letters with razor blades contained in them, and we're aware of referees having windows smashed in their homes."

And he believes a top-down change in attitudes towards officials is needed in order to improve the situation.

"It's important that we change the mindset. In other sports they don't think it's legitimate to criticise refs to the same extent as they do in football.


"The immediate step that needs to be taken is that the clubs take steps to acknowledge the important part that refs play, and that without them they can't have games.

"Clubs need to take a lead," he said, "and sometimes managers need to be a wee bit more responsible."

"In the same way they don't expect perfection from their players they can't expect perfection from match officials.

"I'm certainly not going to criticise Steven Craven for taking his decision because I don't know how much abuse he has had to put up with. I don't know what his family have been subjected to.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon was furious that Dougie McDonald, the referee in the game on 17 October, first awarded a penalty then changed his mind after consulting with his assistant, Craven.

"We need to have as many people as possible coming into it and then you can sort out the good one from the poorer ones.

"Match officials' performances are analysed far more than the players' performances are. We seem to expect match officials to produce perfection in games where we don't expect that of players."

While admitting to being "a little surprised" that Collum had been put in charge of the first Old Firm match of the season, Clark felt that the referee had performed well.

"People are going to look at individual decisions, but over the piece I thought he did well to control a game in which the players did not offer him very much help and which probably threw up more contentious issues than any Old Firm game for quite a long time," he said.

As for the controversial penalty, awarded by Collum when Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot fell to the ground after glancing the leg of Daniel Majstorovic, Clark said: "I think Willie was caught in the wrong position.

"I'm sure he would acknowledge that himself. He was then in a position where I think he only saw it out the corner of his eye."

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see also
SFA to reveal Tannadice findings
27 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic boss critical of referee
24 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Celtic 1-3 Rangers
24 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Police to raise Lennon concerns
23 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Refs' chief backs McDonald ruling
19 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Houston pans 'below average' ref
17 Oct 10 |  Dundee Utd
Lennon joy at 'wonderful' Celtic
17 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Tannadice penalty controversy
25 Oct 10 |  Scotland
Dundee United 1-2 Celtic
17 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier

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