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Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Tuesday, 26 October 2010 20:16 UK

Ex-referee Stuart Dougal calls for Scots peace deal


Dougal calls for referee charter

By Chris McLaughlin

Former referee Stuart Dougal thinks it is time a charter was drawn up in Scotland to help declare peace between match officials, managers and players.

One official has received phone threats and another has resigned this week.

"I have no doubt now we need some kind of lines drawn or even some kind of charter pulled together," said Dougal.

"Not just to protect match officials but to protect the players and also the managers to know what's acceptable and what's not acceptable."

Willie Collum was targeted by telephone calls after awarding Rangers a controversial penalty in their 3-1 win over Celtic on Sunday.

"I am obviously disappointed that the referee and his family have had to face these stressful times," said Dougal.

In England, for example, they are not allowed to speak about the referee before the match at all

Former referee Stuart Dougal

"But I kind of expected it after an Old Firm game, particularly as these games go high profile, nothing surprises me now.

"It is pretty rare in my experience and knowing a lot of the guys who have operated at the top over the years, it did not happen too often.

"But we can't ignore it and maybe it is a wee indication to clubs, managers and players, that might want to have a wee rant after a match or before a match, the problems it can cause match officials collectively."

Assistant referee Steven Craven resigned following criticism of referee Dougie McDonald's decision to reverse a penalty award to Celtic the previous week against Dundee United.

And Celtic have written to the Scottish Football Association demanding to be told the reasons for the two controversial decisions and Dougal thinks a change to the system adopted in other countries might help reduce pressure on the officials.

"In England, for example, they are not allowed to speak about the referee before the match at all and that would go some way to resolving things up here," he added.

"And, even after the match, referees know that they are open for criticism. We have no problems about being criticised as long as it is done in a controlled fashion and not the way-out comments that are occasionally made.

Celtic want clarification - Lennon

"I don't think any referee doubts that a club being able to ask questions of a referee, but there's a way of doing it, whether it is Celtic or any other club, there is a process that should be put in place if it is not already there whereby answers can be given, but it does not need to be taken into the public all the time."

The SFA's head of referee development has been the man given the job of explaining decisions to the media and public.

"I actually feel sorry for the SFA and Hugh Dallas in particular," said Dougal. "Hugh has come in and become really transparent in terms of explaining many decisions that in the past have never been explained.

"And the reason they haven't been explained is what we are finding now - that it just leads to more and more questions being asked of referees and then challenging those answers.

"Maybe sometimes it is better to say nothing, but that's going to suit the fans or, indeed, the football clubs.

"I was always one for speaking out and communicating and letting the fans know what is happening, but where does it all stop?"

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see also
Celtic want Collum clarification
26 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Old Firm referee receives threats
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA to reveal Tannadice findings
27 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier

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