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Page last updated at 00:30 GMT, Friday, 26 November 2010

Referee strike 'can improve Scottish football'

Scottish referee John McKendrick
Scottish referees have decided to withdraw their labour this weekend

Scottish referees believe that their withdrawal of labour this weekend can lead to meaningful change.

The action from disgruntled officials has led to the postponement of nine Scottish Football League games.

"We have created a space for people to say referees should be treated differently," said John McKendrick.

"What we want is to have this weekend of reflection to think about what kind of football we want and then move forward," added the Ayrshire referee.

The Scottish Football Association has sourced foreign officials to make sure that all six games in the Premier League, three Scottish Cup replays and Sunday's ALBA Challenge Cup final will go ahead as planned, as well as the First Division match between Morton and Falkirk.

However, several European associations rebuffed the approach for help and McKendrick has been heartened by the level of backing for his colleagues.


"As a collective body we have been completely overwhelmed by the support we've had from officials right across Europe," he told BBC Radio Scotland.

"This is not just a small group of mavericks making a point for self-interest.

"This goes root and branch through senior football in Scotland and it's important to stress that it's not just fellow referees.

"If you listen to the comments from managers, players and chairmen, it really has been understanding and supportive of what we are trying to achieve.

"We know that they will be hurting over the action that is taking place.

"And we regret that. It's a pity that games won't go ahead.

"But it's not a them and us situation, we are part of football.

"For the greater good of the game in Scotland, we had to make a statement, so that we can reorient and take stock and then move on to a progressive, more productive and enjoyable atmosphere.

"We've actually been very reasonable. We announced our intentions on Sunday night. We gave the SFA, SPL and SFL ample time to come to arrangements.

"If we were really interested in ruining Scottish football we would have left it until today (Thursday) and made sure it was impossible for those games to be covered."

The SFA, SPL and SFL have all voiced sympathy with the referees' plight, with officials unhappy at the amount of recent public criticism aimed at them and expressing fears for their personal safety.

In a bid to appease officials, a statement from the SFA promised "tougher and more immediate sanctions on players and club officials who abuse referees and match officials - and especially those who challenge their integrity and honesty".

But McKendrick said: "We have asked for nothing.

The sub-plot is that referees want players, managers and club officials sanctioned much more toughly

Fraser Wishart
SPFA chief executive

"The time for talking about practical steps to improve Scottish refereeing should start from Monday.

"The SFA have been understanding and have issued a strong statement. There has been a lot of movement.

"If we had not announced this action, I'm not sure there would have been the same desire for change.

"It wasn't going that way. What we had was week-after-week of new stories and new problems, berating referees and questioning our integrity. That's been brought to halt this week.

"We have an opportunity to change the culture in which football operates."

Players' union chief Fraser Wishart also has sympathy with the officials but was troubled by the SFA's pledge to impose new penalties.

"Players will just get on with their job," he told BBC Radio Scotland. "They are bemused by it all.

"I don't agree with the policy of simply downing tools. There has been no thought of compromise here.

"The main aim is to protest, to show that referees are hard done by and the sub-plot is that referees want players, managers and club officials sanctioned much more toughly.

"The purpose of this is to bring in tougher regulations that will see our members being hammered so, for that reason, it's difficult for me to support the referees 100%.

"The statement from the SFA certainly disappointed me. This is clearly a decision taken behind closed doors that will affect a review taken by (SFA chief executive) Stewart Regan.

"I'm not against control or legislation but I would prefer agreement and understanding, where we all sat round the table and talked."

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see also
SPL survives referee withdrawals
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Referee strike wipes out SFL card
26 Nov 10 |  Scottish League
No gag for managers - Calderwood
25 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
STUC chief backs referees strike
23 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

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