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Miller defends Dons referee blast

Aberdeen's Maurice Ross is sent off

Aberdeen see red against Hibs

Aberdeen director of football Willie Miller hopes the club avoid censure for criticising referee Steven Nicholls.

A statement from the Dons pilloried the rookie official for sending off Maurice Ross and Chris Maguire during Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Hibernian.

The Scottish FA's general purposes committee will now study the article.

"I would hope they would see there are valid points," was Miller's response when asked by BBC Scotland about possible sanctions from the SFA.

The SFA's head of referee development Hugh Dallas later told BBC Scotland he was "very comfortable with the two major decisions in the match".

Dallas also said he was satisfied with Nicholls overall handling of the game at Easter Road and thinks the official will develop into one of the country's top referees.

The Aberdeen statement claimed the match had "almost descended into farce" because of what they describe as "the antics of the man in the middle".

It also said that Nicholls was "hell-bent" on ordering players off.

I'd like to see referees getting to half-time without any bookings

Willie Miller

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee had criticised Nicholls after the game in which two late goals by Liam Miller and Colin Nish secured victory for the Edinburgh side.

And Miller said "there was hardly a tackle in the game".

But the statement, which was posted on the club's website on Monday, goes much further.

It reads: "Surely those of us who are actually in the firing line should be doing everything in our power to prevent short-changing the group that matters most, namely the paying customers?

"Sadly, that was not the case at Easter Road on Saturday when the referee seemed blindly determined to stamp his authority right from the off.

"Nine against 11 (perhaps make that 12!) for the best part of half an hour means an unequal situation and one that is cheating the fans who pay good money to watch a competitive and balanced encounter.


"The sending off of a player should be a last resort not, what it appeared to be against Hibs, something the referee seemed hell-bent on achieving almost straight from the kick-off."

The piece goes on to praise the vocal support offered by the travelling Dons fans, before claiming that "thanks to the antics of the man in the middle, what began as a fair contest almost descended into farce!"

The statement, which is not attributed to any individual at the club, ends: "A common sense approach from match officials - that's all the football fraternity wants - is that really too much to ask for?"

Miller, who played for and managed the Pittodrie club, added: "I'd like to see referees getting to half-time without any bookings.

"I'd like to see referees with some personality, giving a little bit of leeway to make decisions and not book people constantly. I don't think it does our game any justice.

"There are a lot of sendings-off and I don't think it's valid. I don't think the game nowadays is dirty in any way."

Responding to those remarks, Dallas said: "Referees cannot give an amnesty for 45 minutes.

"The game is unpredictable. Referees are taught to try to manage situations on the pitch and give verbal warnings. But if challenges are reckless, there has to be the sanction of a yellow or red card."

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see also
Aberdeen suffer Fyvie injury blow
02 Nov 09 |  Aberdeen
McGhee critical of dismissals
31 Oct 09 |  Scotland front page AV
Hibernian 2-0 Aberdeen
31 Oct 09 |  Scottish Premier

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