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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hugh Dallas defended after referee 'cover-up' claim

Assistant referee Steven Craven

Tannadice penalty controversy

Union chief Martin Cryans has denied that Scotland's head of referees was involved in an attempted cover-up over a penalty denied to Celtic.

Assistant referee Steven Craven claimed in the Sunday Mail that Hugh Dallas had urged him to back referee Dougie McDonald's original version of events.

McDonald later admitted exaggerating Craven's role in overturning the penalty against Dundee United.

But referees' union boss Cryans says that Dallas demanded the truth be told.

The controversy arose after McDonald blew for a penalty after goalkeeper Dusan Pernis challenged Celtic striker Gary Hooper during the match won by Celtic 2-1 at Tannadice on 17 October.

McDonald then approached Craven, who has since resigned as a result of the controversy, before giving a drop ball inside the area.

I think referees in general and certainly the senior referees in the country will be aghast at some of the assertions that have been made

Scottish Senior Football Referees' Association chairman Martin Cryans

It was claimed in the immediate aftermath of the game that the referee had heard Craven shout "Dougie, Dougie" in his earpiece before consulting his assistant.

"Hugh Dallas's involvement in that was clear," said Scottish Senior Football Referees' Association chairman Cryans.

"Dougie, on leaving Tannadice, immediately realised that's not the way he wanted it to be conducted.

"He informed Hugh Dallas of that fact. Hugh, quite rightly, was very upset at what he had heard and instructed and informed at that point that all of the match officials tell the truth.

"Hugh's comments in the aftermath of that conveyed that and simply talked about the overturning of the penalty decision, that Dougie had received information from Steven and had overturned the decision.

"Anyone looking at the incident can see that Dougie immediately realised he had made an error, went across to Steven, had that piece of information given to him, which was enough for him to then know that the correct decision was to overturn the penalty kick and that is what the investigation has found."

An investigation headed by recently appointed SFA chief executive Stewart Regan on Friday delivered a warning to McDonald for not making that clear in his post-match report, although it stressed that he was correct not to award a penalty.

Regan has promised changes to the reporting procedure and hopes to launch a "respect campaign" to reduce the pressure from clubs, managers and players on officials.

However, with Craven having gone public about his resignation and claims of being made a scapegoat, focus is now likely to shift to head of referee development Dallas's role in the affair.

Craven claims he had been urged to stick by McDonald's original explanation, the "lie" having been given to Celtic manager Neil Lennon after the game, as it was more credible.

Celtic, who had wanted a harsher penalty for the referee, are understood to have been further angered by the newspaper claims and are preparing to make their opinions on the matter known.

It is thought that the Glasgow club "want heads to roll", wish an overhaul of the SFA's refereeing system and feel vindicated by Craven's comments in making their official complaint.

An ashen-looking McDonald arrived at Tynecastle to perform his duties as fourth official for Sunday's Scottish Premier League match against Kilmarnock and is expected to make a statement within 24 hours.

SFA head of referee development Hugh Dallas
Dallas is head of referee development in Scotland

It is understood that those within the SFA criticised by Craven in the Sunday Mail are seeking legal advice and contest the former assistant's account of the sequence of events.

They are also examining Craven's claims of bullying by Dallas and his assistant, John Fleming, but Cryans said that none of his members - Craven is not a member of his association - had ever made such claims.

"I think referees in general and certainly the senior referees in the country will be aghast at some of the assertions that have been made against Hugh Dallas and John Fleming," said the union chief.

"I've known Steven for 15 years, trained with him and respect him as a match official.

"But the suggestions he's making come from someone who, by his own admission, was going by Christmas. He has chosen to go a month early and has given his side of events to a newspaper.

"The guy who was going has chosen to take a pop and there's not much more to it there."

Meanwhile, it is believed that the SFA will ask Celtic to account for Lennon's own behaviour during the match against United.

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see also
McDonald denies starting cover-up
01 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA chief calls for ref respect
30 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Ref warned after Tannadice probe
29 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
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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