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Scottish referee crisis explained

Dougie McDonald
McDonald was back refereeing in the SPL last weekend

Matches in the Scottish Premier League are facing postponement after the country's category one referees voted to strike in response to increasing criticism over their performance and integrity.

BBC Sport analyses the key issues at the heart of the debate which threatens to cast a shadow over the whole of Scottish football.

WHY HAVE THE REFEREES VOTED TO STRIKE?

The referees claim their personal safety is under threat, both on the pitch, and from fans. Some referees have reported receiving abuse from fans away from matches, and feel their integrity is being questioned excessively by factions within Scottish football.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?

Referee Dougie McDonald rescinded a penalty initially awarded to Celtic during their 2-1 victory against Dundee United at Tannadice on 17 October, then later admitted that he had lied to his superiors and the Celtic manager Neil Lennon over his reasons for over-turning the decision.

Steven Craven
Steven Craven resigned after the penalty incident at Tannadice

At Celtic's AGM on Thursday 18 November, chairman John Reid said McDonald's position was "untenable" and he should resign or be sacked.

Celtic also wrote to the SFA seeking clarification over a penalty awarded to Rangers by referee Willie Collum, who later received threatening phone calls.

Lennon then strongly criticised referee Craig Thomson after being sent to the stand during a 2-0 defeat by Hearts and has declared his intent to appeal the ban.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan also investigated allegations concerning the email account of head of referee development Hugh Dallas. BBC Scotland viewed an email containing an offensive image forwarded from Dallas's account on the day of the Pope's visit to Scotland.

IS THIS A UNANIMOUS DECISION AMONG THE OFFICIALS?

It is believed that all 31 of the 33 category one officials voted to refuse to referee the matches they have been allocated on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November.

Two referees were not present at the meeting, but the decision was unanimously supported by 10 category two officials.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO AVERT THE STRIKE?
Dougie McDonald
Dougie McDonald has been at the centre of recent criticism

Former SPL referee Stuart Dougal claims the strike is "cast in stone" but added that he is hoping that a resolution can be reached.

In 2008, SPL referees threatened to strike over pay but agreed to cancel the action when a review was set up to study their demands.

Referees may also be persuaded by clubs agreeing to put a stop to public criticism, although SPL managers agreed to stop criticising referees in December 2008 but eventually reneged on the deal.

WHICH FIXTURES WILL BE AFFECTED?

The strike would potentially cause postponements in the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League cards.

The ALBA Challenge Cup final between Ross County and Queen of the South, plus three Scottish Cup third-round replays, may also have to be rescheduled.

The SFA could also draft in Fifa-approved referees from other football associations in Ireland, Wales, England - or from abroad.



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see also
Chick Young's view
22 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
SPL survives referee withdrawals
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Scottish referees vote to strike
21 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Lennon ready to fight suspension
19 Nov 10 |  Celtic
Celtic call for referee to resign
18 Nov 10 |  Celtic
MP makes ref club allegiance plea
16 Nov 10 |  Scotland
SFA probes Dallas email reports
10 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Ref McDonald explains 'lie' role
01 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier


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