Referees from Poland and Portugal have ridden to the rescue of Scottish Football as 16 officials will fly in for the weekend’s games. All SPL matches will go ahead as normal as will Sunday’s ALBA Cup final between Ross County and Queens of the South. Of the Scottish Football League fixtures only one – Greenock Morton versus Falkirk – will be played after a ballot was organised to draw out the one and only game that could be played.
The SFA had been searching across Europe to find referees of the standard to handle the weekend matches in the SPL. And have now secured 12 officials from Poland and four from Portugal.
A statement from the Polish FA to STV Sport said, “We are happy we can help the Scottish FA and we are happy that our referees can go to Scotland and gain experience, which will be good for them. We don’t want to be involved in politics, all we want to do is help out.”
Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive announced, “We have successfully managed to secure more match officials to take charge of games threatened by the Scottish Category One referees’ withdrawal of labour this weekend.
“Thanks to the hard work of various departments at the Scottish FA throughout the day, and the support of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League, we are now able to confirm a number of games will go ahead as planned with match officials from various National Associations.
“All matches in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League will go ahead, as will the Alba Challenge Cup final, the three Scottish Cup replays and Greenock Morton v Falkirk in the Irn Bru First Division. The First Division match was determined by the drawing of lots by the Scottish Football League.
“The referees who have offered their services will either be FIFA-approved or will have achieved Category One status in their respective countries. I repeat it is deeply sad that we have arrived at this situation but as I have stated previously, it is incumbent on the Scottish FA to honour our obligations to our league partners.”
Other associations offered their help, thought to be Malta and Luxembourg, but the SFA are insisting that the referees are on the FIFA list or Category One within their own country.
The Football Associations of Northern Ireland, Wales, France, England, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark and Iceland all declined to send any of their referees to Scotland, in a show of solidarity for their Scottish colleagues.
However there could be questions asked about Polish refereeing involvement, as the country has been plagued by corruption and match fixing over the years. A recent probe in 2009, led to 192 arrests of referees, players, coaches and club officials. And in January, the Polish FA PZPN was trying to sue a website after it claimed the PZPN’s leadership was corrupt.