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Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 16:39 UK

Referee Dougie McDonald warned after Tannadice probe

Assistant referee Steven Craven

Tannadice penalty controversy

By Chris McLaughlin

Referee Dougie McDonald has been warned by the Scottish Football Association for failing to clearly explain why he changed his mind in giving a penalty.

An SFA probe decided that McDonald had been correct to rescind the award for Celtic against Dundee United.

But it said that he did not make it clear in his post-match report that the decision was his - and not one heavily influenced by assistant Steven Craven.

Craven later resigned feeling he was made a scapegoat in the controversy.

McDonald's decision angered Celtic, while Dundee United were also critical of the referee's general performance in the match won 2-1 by the Glasgow side.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "Following Steven Craven's resignation and the circumstances surrounding the overturning of the penalty decision in the match, it was important to thoroughly investigate the matter.

Ref post-match comments unclear - Regan

"I am satisfied with the outcome of today's meeting and the clarity of the findings."

Regan had spoken to the match referee, Dougie McDonald, his assistant, Steven Craven, Hugh Dallas, the head of referee development, and Jim McBurney, the referee observer as part of the investigation.

"The committee reached a unanimous view that the overturning of the original decision was correct," said the SFA in a statement.

"The match referee, Dougie McDonald, was present at today's meeting and admitted that, after having blown for an infringement, he immediately realised that he may have made an error.

"As is appropriate in these circumstances, Dougie, unprompted, decided to approach the assistant referee, Steven Craven, who had assumed the required position for the taking of the penalty.

"Dougie then asked Steven if he had seen the Dundee United goalkeeper, Dusan Pernis, touch the ball first and Steven confirmed that, in his opinion, the goalkeeper had.

"Dougie then communicated to the players that he had made a mistake and restarted the game with a drop-ball, as per the Laws of the Game."

However, the report stresses that McDonald had been warned over his explanation of the decision.

"In addition, the investigation identified that the post-match administrative process was not completed to the expected standard," says the SFA.

"The committee agreed with this point and Dougie has accepted his responsibility in this regard.

"It should also be noted that, while Dougie ultimately arrived at the correct decision during the match, he was marked down for the error in awarding a penalty in the first instance in the observer's report."

Regan admitted that Craven's resignation was due to his disgruntlement at how McDonald and the SFA had handled the fall-out.

Ledley sanguine over ref controversy

"He was disappointed in the way Dougie McDonald had articulated the incident and the whole episode had been played out in the media after the match," he said.

"One of the concerns Steven had was his role in this whole matter had not been fully articulated and not made clear to the referee's observer and we looked at that in the investigation.

"Dougie hasn't accepted responsibility for Steven Craven's resignation. His resignation covers other matters and we are looking at those matters in an internal discussion."

Celtic have also written to the SFA seeking clarification over referee Willie Collum's decision to award Rangers a penalty against Celtic in Sunday's Old Firm match, which Rangers won 3-1.

The furore caused by those decisions has led to much debate about refereeing in Scotland, with Collum revealing that he had received phone threats at his home.

Former referee Stuart Dougal this week called for a charter to be drawn up to broker a peace deal between officials, clubs, managers and players - and Scottish Senior Football Referees' Association chairman Martin Cryans hinted that such action could be taken.

"The pressure placed on referees has intensified in this country in recent years and the last few weeks have highlighted the immense strain placed on our top officials and their families," said Cryans.

"The aim now for the SSFRA is to work, in tandem with Stewart Regan, to help develop a respect initiative."

A Celtic spokesman said that there will be "no comment at this stage" from the club.

However, speaking before the SFA statement, manager Neil Lennon said: "We want to draw a line under it.

"We are just looking for clarity and why it cost a linesman his job as well.

"I think we have a right to write letters in. I don't make a fuss of referees, until two weeks ago."

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see also
Reid calls for calm in ref crisis
29 Oct 10 |  Hamilton
Celtic want Collum clarification
26 Oct 10 |  Celtic
Ex-ref calls for Scots peace deal
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Old Firm referee receives threats
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA to reveal Tannadice findings
27 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic boss critical of referee
24 Oct 10 |  Celtic

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