Our Referees fail to pass SFA exam – is Dallas failing in his job?


It’s going from bad to worse for Referees chief Hugh Dallas. After the McDonald cover-up, Craven’s resignation and subsequent claims of harassment and bullying, not to mention the sectarian email he allegedly sent from his SFA account, Dallas did not need anything else to make his position untenable. But now it seems under his stewardship, 80% of Scotland’s top referees failed an SFA exam on the laws of the game.

The Sunday Mail reported this morning that, of the 31 Category One referees who took the 30-question written exam, only five passed. A damning indictment of the knowledge and standard of our referees today, a report that backs up all supporters claims that the referees, don’t know what they’re doing.

The exam took place at the Spanish winter training camp in February, and only now has it seen the light of day. Other countries test their referees, but those who fail will be demoted and could no longer take charge of senior games. But the SFA as we all know have their own rules.

According to the report, Dallas was taken aback by the findings, and put in place plans to help improve our whistlers’ knowledge. Their own copy of the Laws of the Game would be handy.

To pass the exam, a referee had to achieve 80% or higher, but the Sunday Mail revealed that half of those who took it scored 70% or under, with one official scoring 50%. The officials were sent their results by email – was the Pope email attached? – that also had comments from the Referee Development Department.

The article also claimed that the referee with the 50% score was told, “This is unacceptable. We will inform the Referee Committee of your results in the test. Concerns will be raised about your lack of knowledge and understanding of the Laws of the Game. The Development Department will furnish you with a test paper as a matter of urgency and you will sit it under examination conditions.”

Nine referees achieved a score of between 70% – 79% and were informed, “If we operated in the same way as several other countries you would now require to be re-examined. Warning bells should be ringing and failure to achieve a pass mark is concerning for the department. We will be looking for a significant improvement in the next test.”

The highest mark out of the 31 referees was 89% – certainly nothing to shout out about. But the whistler was told, “A very good knowledge – you have to be congratulated for attaining this pass mark.”

An SFA spokesperson tried to play down the report and claimed that officials were now tested about their knowledge every month. Referees are tested week in week out and are they achieving pass marks? We shall let the supporters answer that one.

The spokesperson said, “This was the first in a series of hypothetical awareness exercises. These exercises now take place at every monthly referees’ meeting in a 10-question format. They are designed to test officials on some of the most unlikely and unusual scenarios they may encounter. The improvement in that awareness has been apparent since these assessments became part of our monthly meetings. I’m sure most people would agree that implementing such an assessment based on the Laws of the Game can only be a benefit to refs and the game in general.”

So they have reduced the test from 30 questions to a mere 10. What next multiple choice questions?

The referees are under increasing pressure after McDonald lying to a senior SFA official and SPL manager, and then the SFA failing to hold him accountable for his actions.

This latest damning report will heap more pressure on our whistlers, although the question is – when do our referees become accountable? If we fail exams or tests that see if we can do our job – are we allowed to continue in it? So what makes referees so different? Why can they continue in a role when they fail to achieve a passing grade?

Supporters know that refereeing is a tough job, but with no accountability or punishment for referees failing to do their jobs properly then what do the SFA and the whistlers expect when they come under increasing pressure from fans, managers, players and the media alike.

The SFA are supposed to be the governing body of Scottish Football. Time they realised that and ruled the roost, not continue with the same auld notion of jobs for the boys, and protecting anyone with an SFA blazer from rightful punishments.

The last question to be answered is what about Dallas? He is the head of our referees and they have failed to do their job properly. And after the McDonald issue, along with the comments from Craven and the Pope email – is his position now untenable with this new revelation? How many lives can one man have?


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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