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Referee Dougie McDonald opts to retire

Retired referee Dougie McDonald

Archive - McDonald penalty reversal

Dougie McDonald has announced his retirement as a category one referee with immediate effect.

The 45-year-old, who has overseen two Scottish Cup finals, has been at the centre of a refereeing row since his controversial penalty U-turn decision.

McDonald misled Celtic manager Neil Lennon over his reasons for rescinding a spot-kick he initially awarded at Tannadice on 17 October.

Celtic had been calling for McDonald to step down after his admission.

McDonald said: "It is with regret that I have decided, with immediate effect, to retire from my role as a category one referee.

"My category one colleagues decided rightly to withdraw their services from matches this weekend in response to the outrageous way they have been treated by sections within Scottish football and, in my opinion, the lack of support they have received from the SFA General Purposes Committee in recent years.

"However, their united stand, and the position of strength they have established this weekend, has been clouded by one issue, namely the aftermath of the Dundee United v Celtic match on 17 October.


"I apologised for my role in that and wanted my previously unblemished 29-year career to move on.

"Now is the time for all of Scottish football to move on.

"My decision will therefore remove that issue from the debate and ensure that the next day of action - which, in my opinion, will undoubtedly come if the football community does not have a massive change of heart - will result in media coverage being concentrated on those who engage in referee bashing and those who condone it."

McDonald had received a warning from the Scottish Football Association after failing to properly explain his overturning of the penalty award.

He returned to SPL duty to oversee Hibernian's 2-1 win over Motherwell on 13 November and intimated that he had no intention of stepping down.

Craven initiated 'white lie' - McDonald

However, Celtic chairman John Reid then called for the official to resign or the SFA to take action.

"If the SFA had any sense of their own integrity, they should look at it again," said Dr Reid on 18 November.

"His position is completely untenable. The SFA's position on this issue is also untenable."

McDonald went on to suggest that the recent problems facing referees ran far deeper than his spat with Celtic.

"It is also important to make clear that just as this issue is not about Dougie McDonald alone, nor is it about Celtic Football Club alone," he added.

"The truth is, since I became a class one referee, managers or players - and sometimes directors - at almost every club, at one time or another, have been guilty of such behaviour.

"The only difference being the degree and tenor of the criticism and the inferences from it.

"The constant has been the unwillingness of the SFA General Purposes Committee to deal with it.

"I suggest they check the meaning of phrases such as 'wasn't impartial' used by (former Celtic winger) Aiden McGeady and 'conspires to' used by (Dundee United manager) Peter Houston and consider whether we want those used in Scottish football."

Former Fifa referee Kenny Clark admitted he was saddened by McDonald's decision to step down, but added he hoped it could pave the way for dialogue to move the sport forward.

"I was disappointed but I wasn't in the least bit surprised (at McDonald's decision)," Clark told BBC Scotland.

"I don't think it was Dougie's only option but I think he'd come to recognise that this was casting a shadow over the other issues.

"It's been a spectacular and very strange week for Scottish football but perhaps now we can make some sort of progress."

McDonald follows Hugh Dallas in departing his role within Scotland's refereeing circles after a turbulent week.

Dallas was sacked as the SFA's head of referee development amid an internal probe into allegations that a controversial image relating to the Pope had been circulated via the governing body's official email system.

Match officials from Israel, Malta and Luxembourg ensured all four of Saturday's SPL matches went ahead despite category one referees withdrawing their labour in protest at their recent treatment.

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see also
No repeat of referee strike - SFA
28 Nov 10 |  Scotland
Israeli ref felt misled on strike
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Refs' concern at Dallas sacking
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Refs' chief Dallas sacked by SFA
27 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Referee strike wipes out SFL card
26 Nov 10 |  Scottish League
Scottish referee crisis explained
22 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Scottish referees vote to strike
21 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic call for referee to resign
18 Nov 10 |  Celtic
MP makes ref club allegiance plea
16 Nov 10 |  Scotland
McDonald's lie 'will hinder refs'
03 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic welcome SFA referee review
07 Nov 10 |  Celtic
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
Scottish ref 'cover-up' is denied
31 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Reid calls for calm in ref crisis
29 Oct 10 |  Hamilton
Ex-ref calls for Scots peace deal
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Old Firm referee receives threats
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
SFA to reveal Tannadice findings
27 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic boss critical of referee
24 Oct 10 |  Celtic

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