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Craig Brown critical of striking Scottish officials

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Regan - foreign refs will officiate SPL

Motherwell manager Craig Brown has criticised Scottish referees for their decision to strike this weekend.

But his managerial counterparts in the Scottish Premier League are largely sympathetic to the officials' plight.

Hearts' visit to Fir Park on league business on Sunday will be officiated by a foreign referee and assistants.

"I now feel we have a grievance because we are a non-offending team," Brown told BBC Scotland. "Why are they striking? I would like to know."

The veteran manager feels that the referees' union have done the Scottish game a disservice by their decision to strike and, prior to their decision, ought to have consulted other bodies affected by their walk-out.

"I think the Scottish Referees' Association have embarrassed football in Scotland by taking this action, because surely there are five other agencies they should have dealt with before going on strike," said Brown.

The way to resolve it is dialogue, not strike. That is a last resort, I'd have thought

Motherwell manager Craig Brown

"They should have spoken to the managers' union, the players' union if they've got an issue with players, the SFL, the SPL and the SFA.

"They should have spoken to all five round a table and then, if they still felt aggrieved, they might have said 'we are going to go on strike'."

When asked if it would have been better if the referees had pinpointed the clubs they didn't want to deal with rather proceed with an all-out strike, Brown said: "It would have been less cowardly. It's cowardice if they don't come out and specifically say.

"They should say specifically what the issue is. The way to resolve it is dialogue, not strike. That is a last resort, I'd have thought."

On the notion of foreign officials taking charge of this weekend's fixtures, Brown added: "I don't mind who is refereeing.

"I dealt with foreign refs for 16 years in my job (as Scotland manager) and all that confirmed to me was that Scottish referees were as good as, if not better than, foreign referees and I've always said that.

"The foreign referees coming in won't be as good and they certainly don't know the Scottish culture and psyche the way we do, which might give them an advantage, because it's totally independent."

Rangers manager Walter Smith sympathises with Scotland's referees and cannot blame them for the strike action they have taken.

"The situation has gone on a bit long. There has been an undercurrent of too much criticism and feel it's time to bring it into focus," he said.

"They have been under a fair bit of pressure this season especially.

"Every one of us is disappointed this is the way it's turned out, but I can sympathise with their reasons."

The unanimous vote by Scotland's category one referees has resulted in the postponement of all but eight of the 20 scheduled matches.

The Scottish Football Association has drafted in replacement referees from Luxembourg, Malta, Israel and Portugal to ensure that some matches are played, including all six SPL fixtures.

Smith would have preferred for the officials to have named the clubs and managers they are unhappy with, arguing that they are fudging the issue by targeting all Scottish clubs.

The Ibrox boss, who said he does not know who will be in charge of his team's game against Dundee United on Sunday, backs the SFA's plan to take tougher sanctions against those who speak out against referees.

Smith's counterpart at Hamilton, Billy Reid, also has sympathy for the officials but says the strike damages Scottish football.

"I feel for them at times," said the Accies manager.

I think the whole situation is ludicrous

Hamilton manager Billy Reid

"I'm not saying that's the right decision - to not make themselves available - but at the moment to referee in Scottish football is almost impossible.

"I don't actually know how they manage to do it, because whatever they do is wrong for whatever club and I think the whole situation is ludicrous.

"But I don't think it is good for anyone in Scottish football."

Derek McInnes, whose St Johnstone team travel to face Hibernian on Saturday, reckons it is time for everybody in the game to pause for thought amidst the refereeing furore.

"There is criticism of referees, criticism of managers, criticism of players for their performance," said the McDiarmid Park manager.

"That is fine, but when it starts going on for three or four weeks - even five or six days - and we are talking about linesmen on first-name terms, it starts getting a bit unhealthy and we start crossing a line.

"There are a lot of people who have not covered themselves in glory. We have all got to take stock."

In Dundee, the United manager Peter Houston described Scottish officials as "on the whole decent", adding: "I'm disappointed because we want Scottish referees refereeing SPL games and Scottish games in general.

"It's maybe time we sit round the table with the referees and managers and maybe chairmen and settle the whole thing down again."

Neil Lennon, whose club, Celtic, have been at the centre of the controversy surrounding criticism of referees, told the media that he was pleased his team's game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle was going ahead.

However, he did admit to concerns over the quality of officials being brought in to cover the strike.

Hibs manager Colin Calderwood, a relative newcomer to club football in Scotland, maintains that managers have the right to voice their opinions after a match.

He does, though, believe that officials have limited options for voicing their displeasure.

"What else can they do?" said the Easter Road manager.

"I would imagine they've got to go through the power brokers of football and set down what they think is right and wrong.

"I think it's quite a good thing that they've all come together and shown solidarity."



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SPL survives referee withdrawals
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Ref strike 'can improve football'
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Referee strike wipes out SFL card
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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
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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