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Chick Young's view

Celtic manager Neil Lennon (right) confronts match officials

Celtic v refs controversy

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football reporter

Start the revolution on a Saturday: always a good thing.

The match officials who have decided that enough is enough are spot on to register their protest and withdraw their labour. Let's see how the whingeing clubs, in the words of Corporal Jones of Dad's Army, like it up 'em.

Celtic have set about Dougie McDonald with a baseball bat, a ridiculous over-reaction in the crime and punishment scenario of what went on during and after their fixture against Dundee United.

Their chairman even hijacked the club's annual general meeting to call for the resignation of a referee who, may I remind you, actually got right the penalty-kick decision which lit the blue - or rather green - touchpaper in the first place.

And now the game has got itself into a right little mess.

Here's the truth: you can't treat people like this.

You can't haunt their existence, call them cheats, stare into their private lives and expect them to sleep at night.

Less than two years ago Lex Gold, chairman at the time of the Scottish Premier League, proudly announced that club managers had agreed to refrain from speaking about refereeing decision after matches.

You couldn't cross the gap between managers and referees with a transatlantic liner

Chick Young

I screamed my protest and cynicism at the time. I knew it would never last and pointed out that this was Scottish football, not the editorial floor of Pravda. And last it didn't.

But the restraint crashed and burned in spectacular style despite then Celtic boss Gordon Strachan saying: "I think we should take the pressure off referees a bit."

This is a strike of protest, not a crowbar threat to embrace more money. Just a plea for clubs to understand about respect and decency.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with managers or players pointing out that decisions were wrong, if wrong they were. No-one is handing out halos to our referees.

But it has gone way too far.

I watch the game of rugby and the respect of players for match officials is clear. Referees have the right in their armoury to move kicks forward 10 yards in the wake of players questioning decisions and, maybe more importantly, they have the time to pore over video replays.

But right now, in the once beautiful game, you couldn't cross the gap between managers and referees with a transatlantic liner.

I'll be told if I'm wrong, but I don't recall the last time a match official was invited into the office for a post-match glass of wine or beer with the two managers.


Too many people in the game have forgotten how to smile, forgotten that indeed this is, after all, only a game.

Referees and their assistants have changed their ways. They guard their words and look over their shoulders like ventriloquists' dummies.

They look shell-shocked and haunted. It shouldn't be this way.

I admire their stance and indeed applaud it. The lunatics out there might see it as a triumph for their mad ways, but this is a cry for help.

And someone needs to come to the rescue.

The Scottish Football Association's silence has been deafening and if last week I argued that they needed time to contemplate their deployment, then now they need to act…fast and loud.

Celtic have had them on the ropes. They need to come out fighting.

Meanwhile I wonder what's on at the movies this Saturday afternoon...

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see also
SPL survives referee withdrawals
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Scottish referees vote to strike
21 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
MP makes ref club allegiance plea
16 Nov 10 |  Scotland
SFA promises ref system overhaul
04 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Ref warned after Tannadice probe
29 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic want Collum clarification
26 Oct 10 |  Celtic
SFA chief calls for ref respect
30 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier

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