The Ref’s Notebook

ref referee

The recent Livingston v RIFC game saw yet another violent incident involving supporters of the visiting team. On this occasion the assistant referee was hit by a coin which resulted in the match having to be stopped while the official was bandaged up.

As the BBC Sport website reported it on October 3rd: “Assistant referee Calum Spence received a cut on the back of his head after a coin was thrown during Livingston’s 1-0 win over Rangers on Sunday.”

Not, “after he was hit by a coin thrown by a Rangers fan during Livingston’s 1-0 win…”

To comment on the incident the Beeb trundled out one of their rent-a-gub ex-referees, in this case Kenny Clark: “The referees strike of 2010 has not brought about the improvement in behaviour towards officials. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring about the change in the culture we would have hoped for,” Clark said of the strike.

refs bbc headline

The BBC’s reporter added:
Scottish referees went on strike in November 2010 claiming undue criticism and questioning of their integrity by managers and the media that had led to some receiving death threats.

The article asserts that some officials at the time had received death threats. In fact, this story appeared in the media following in the wake of the infamous Dougiegate scandal, when Dougie McDonald was forced to resign after a match between Dundee United and Celtic during which he gave a penalty to the Hoops, changed his mind then tried to get linesman Steven Craven to lie on his behalf by saying that the assistant had overruled him. Hugh Dallas was involved in the subsequent cover-up as well and when it all came to light Celtic demanded an apology.

The media line in the following weeks was that the linesman (Craven) had quit because of abuse and threats that he and/or his family had recieved after the penalty incident at Tannadice (by inference, these threats had come from disgruntled Celtic supporters). This assertion is KNOWN to be untrue.

An SFA “source” briefed journalists with this titbit when it became known that Craven was about to resign. The linesman (Craven) is on record categorically denying he had received ANY abuse or threats. But the briefer knew exactly what he or she was doing of course and once in the public domain, this disinformation was accepted as fact and repeated.

Craven himself went on record to say that that he resigned for two reasons.

First, he was falsely made the scapegoat for the penalty incident and secondly he claimed a culture of bullying in Scottish refereeing which stemmed, in the main, from Hugh Dallas the head of the SFA referee’s committee (subsequently himself resigned or sacked, after forwarding a sectarian email): ”I decided to quit a few days later. I’d had enough of Hugh Dallas and John Fleming (the SFA referee development officer),” Craven told Mark Guidi in an interview that appeared in the Sunday Mail.

The story regarding threats to refs reappeared after Willie Collum gave a penalty to Rangers at Celtic Park without seeing the player – Kirk Broadfoot – go down. Indeed TV pictures showed later that Collum had his back to the incident. Similarly the “threats” against Collum that were reported in the media remain unsubstantiated – there are no police reports nor direct quotes from the ref.

Following on from this, the decision by some of the country’s referees to refuse to officiate games in Scotland in 2010 was officially reported as being in protest at the abuse and intimidation received from managers, players and supporters (again, the unspoken reality is that they were pissed off with Celtic F.C. alone), despite there being little or no evidence that there had been significantly more abuse than in any other country and certainly nothing to suggest any significant increase at the time.

Of course, the fact that a referee lied to a football manager – Neil Lennon – about a decision and then repeated that lie in his written report with the complicity of three other officials and that he then told his boss (Dallas) what was going on and that his boss then went along with the lie was going to cause controversy.

And of course the club concerned (Celtic) was going to want an explanation and an apology at the very least. Wouldn’t any club feel the same way?

Why did the referees choose to act? Cutting through all the innuendo and inference it was patently obvious that their action was directed at one club – Celtic.
ROBBIE FOULER

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