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MP wants Scottish referees to declare club allegiance

SNP MP Peter Wishart
Wishart wants referees to be up front about their allegiances

Scottish MP Pete Wishart wants all referees in Scotland to be forced to declare which team they support.

The SNP sport spokesman says officials should not be allowed to referee matches involving their team, as they do in England.

"I think the ordinary football fan deserves this information to remove doubt over any decisions being taken," Wishart told BBC Scotland.

The Scottish FA says it has no plans to implement such a register of interests.

However, St Johnstone fan Wishart believes there is no reason why a referees' register could not work in Scotland.

"We've seen in England for FA Cup finals when referees have declared they support a team and they've excluded themselves from the final," he said.

"I seriously do think it would be in the interests of the game if they did declare which team they support.

"Yes, referees are entitled to support a team. They may support one of the two big teams.

Freedom of information has taken hold in our society and I think it should apply to refereeing decisions

Pete Wishart MP

"But when Rangers or Celtic come to McDiarmid Park I would like to know what teams these referees are supporting.

"And, if they are Rangers or Celtic supporters, I'd prefer they didn't referee a match between St Johnstone and one of the Old Firm."

Despite this, Wishart does not doubt that referees in Scotland officiate fairly and without prejudice.

"I think Scottish referees conduct their business with the utmost and absolute integrity," added the MP for Perth and North Perthshire.

"But there's always a keen debate about certain refereeing decisions.

"Freedom of information has taken hold in our society and I think it should apply to refereeing decisions - particularly as they're under such scrutiny.

"I just think that, in this new cultured environment of disclosure of all sorts of people in public and sporting life, referees (should) declare which team they support to put their decisions beyond reproach."

However, former English referee Graham Poll pointed out that Wishart's suggestion could cause problems.

"If you trust referees then it's irrelevant who they support. If you trust them, you trust them," he said.

"If you're going to say, because you support Celtic, you can't referee them you probably can't referee Rangers either. That brings all sorts of complications, I don't think it's as simple and straightforward as is being suggested.

"The key point from England is that, if a referee declares something, that is kept between him and the footballing authorities because there are different reasons why referees shouldn't referee certain games. That is not for public consumption," added Poll.



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