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Page last updated at 22:26 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Gannon gag to avoid more ref rows

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Beautiful game, ugly industry - Gannon

Motherwell manager Jim Gannon says self-preservation was behind his vow of silence after defeat at Hibernian.

"Until we understand fully the SFA guidelines about what we can and can't say about referees, I think the best policy is to say nothing," he said.

"Anyone who saw the game would understand our concerns.

"I spoke up once publicly about referees and now there's all the furore about Jim Gannon and referees, when it should be about refereeing standards."

During the 2-0 loss at Easter Road, Gannon was upset when Iain Brines booked Jamie Murphy for diving after a challenge by Hibs defender Sol Bamba in the penalty box.

The previous weekend Gannon had heavily criticised whistler Alan Muir, who sent off two Dundee United players at Fir Park and later called for referee performance league tables to be introduced in Scotland, as there is in England.

The 'Well boss has also been involved in a public spat with Hugh Dallas, the Scottish FA's head of refereeing, over his correspondence about standards.

"We need to ask questions of Hugh Dallas," Gannon continued. "And what's being done to improve the standards of refereeing?

I've always said football is a beautiful game but an ugly industry

Jim Gannon

"The question referees have to ask is whether I'm criticising them or individuals?

"There are referees that week-in, week-out, cause concern - ones that we want the SFA and Hugh Dallas to have a look at and see if they can improve them."

Gannon refused to name the referees he had singled out for criticism in his letters to Dallas, saying that would be "inappropriate".

He also ruled out any further public declarations of his dissatisfaction and urged the Scottish Premier League to intervene.

"I think the SPL has to act," he said. "Ultimately, they rely on the refereeing standards.

"I'm still confused about who's responsible and who's in charge of referees and what the relationship is between the SPL and SFA regarding referees."

Asked if his run-in with Dallas and the media headlines surrounding his comments had soured what has been a fantastic start to his first season at Fir Park, Gannon said: "I do feel restricted.

"I've been reminded of the rules and the rules are that you can't speak out about a referee being biased or incompetent - even it was the truth, or you can prove it was the truth.

"Therefore, I think it's important that we protect ourselves from any sanctions that the SFA might impose until the rules are clear.

"I've always said football is a beautiful game but an ugly industry."

Referees have been in the firing line more than ever recently, with a number of decisions provoking furious reaction from managers.

Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo added his voice to the growing clamour, saying: "It's clear to me that I share the views of a number of other managers who genuinely believe that the standard of officiating is one of the biggest challenges the game in Scotland faces."

And Dundee United manager Craig Levein wants fresh dialogue between referees and clubs to stop prevent a "them and us" situation developing.

Levein thinks too many experienced referees have been lost to the game and admits that he doesn't know many of the new officials well enough.

Of the experienced referees still operating, Levein said: "You can have a little bit of crack with them and I think that's important, just to show that we're all going out onto the pitch with the same idea in mind and that is to see a good game of football."



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see also
Hearts seek ref answers from SFA
10 Dec 09 |  Hearts
New refs 'no worse' - MacPherson
10 Dec 09 |  St Mirren
Hibernian 2-0 Motherwell
05 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier
Gannon eyes league table for refs
03 Dec 09 |  Motherwell
Gannon hits back at chief of refs
02 Dec 09 |  Motherwell
Dallas defends response to Gannon
30 Nov 09 |  Scottish Premier


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