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Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Tuesday, 23 November 2010

STUC chief Grahame Smith backs referees strike

By Jim Spence

Dougie McDonald
McDonald was warned about his behaviour but is back refereeing

The Scottish trade union movement's top official, Grahame Smith, has backed Scotland's referees in their planned strike action.

Smith, general secretary of the STUC, says he is ready to boycott Sunday's match between Dundee Utd and Rangers.

The Scottish Football Association has contacted foreign referees for help.

"I have a ticket for the game, but I will not be going if a strike-breaking foreign referee is in charge," Smith told BBC Scotland.

"The SFA, like all employers, have adopted the approach of trying to trying to replace the employees who are out on strike instead of concentrating on getting administrative procedures in place, which would have addressed the issue."

Smith admitted that he sympathised with the referees' plight.

If the SFA wants to protect the integrity of the game, they need take action when faced with wrongdoing

David Martin MEP

"Football is unlike any other industry and those involved are in a media spotlight unlike any other," he said.

"It is very difficult to deal with that. Referees deserve to be treated with respect and they also have to respect the players involved in the game and the game in general."

Referees have been angered by the recent questioning of officials' integrity, particularly by Celtic, saying it has led to an increase in threats to their personal safety.

However, MEP David Martin thought that the Scottish Football Association had to take some of the blame for not giving Dougie McDonald more than a warning about his future conduct.

"Referee Dougie McDonald was found by the SFA to have lied about the process of his reaching a decision to cancel a penalty awarded to Celtic but seems to see no reason why he should apologise," he said in his blog.

"Assistant referee Steven Craven resigned over the issue, claiming bullying and harassment within the SFA. Yet Mr McDonald was backed by the SFA's head of referee development Hugh Dallas.

"Meanwhile, Mr Dallas is currently under investigation by the SFA over allegations he sent an e-mail which featured a tasteless joke about the Pope and child abuse on the day of the Pope's visit to Scotland.

Thompson doesn't want foreign refs

"In any other walk of life, most professionals caught lying about an important decision would expect to face harsh consequences and would certainly understand that an apology would be in order.

"Others sending such offensive e-mails have lost their jobs.

"If the SFA wants to protect the integrity of the game, they need take action when faced with wrongdoing.

"Mr McDonald should have been forced to stand down and Mr Dallas should also be told to go if the allegations against him are proven.

"If our footballing authorities get their own house in order, they will have a stronger case to make in telling the clubs and managers to back off."

Meanwhile, Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson did not relish the prospect of a foreign referee officiating at Tannadice.

"If it's not resolved we're looking at foreign referees, which I think is a shame for our game," he said.

"I'd like to see Scottish referees doing Scottish football.

"I think there needs to be a proper discussion between the top referees and the managers of clubs."

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see also
SPL survives referee withdrawals
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Scottish referee crisis explained
22 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Chick Young's view
22 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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