And so it is final, the Referees have stuck to their guns and we shall now see the majority of games in Scotland called off, if not all of them if other referees cannot be bussed in from foreign shores.
The SFA, SPL and SFL released a joint statement:
The Scottish FA yesterday stood shoulder-to-shoulder with both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League in offering representatives of the Category 1 Referees unequivocal and tangible support in an attempt to avert the planned withdrawal of labour scheduled for this coming weekend.
This included the promise of tougher and more immediate sanctions on players and club officials who abuse referees and match officials, and especially those who challenge their integrity and honesty. These new guidelines also incorporated a ban on all club officials commenting on referees in the build-up to matches and in the immediate aftermath.
These measures received the full backing of the Scottish FA President and the Chief Executive.
Regrettably, at midnight last night, the Scottish FA were informed that following a further meeting of Category 1 referees there would be no change of heart in relation to the strike and no suspension of action while the Scottish FA implements the measures proposed.
Therefore, the weekend of action will proceed as planned and the Scottish FA will implement, where possible, a contingency plan to allow some fixtures to take place as planned this weekend, using officials from other international associations.
Stewart Regan, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA: “This is a very sad day for Scottish football. After further positive talks yesterday, and having received the backing of both the SPL and the SFL, I felt that we had shown our commitment to the refereeing fraternity and that they had recognised that substantial progress had been made.
“If this withdrawal of labour goes ahead it will be the fans, clubs, sponsors and media partners who will suffer and that cannot be good for the game in this country. I would urge the Category 1 referees to reconsider their decision and, having benefited from the wave of sympathy for their current situation, plus the offer of affirmative action, realise the potential impact of their actions.”
Neil Doncaster, SPL Chief Executive: “It is deeply regrettable that Scottish match officials will not be taking charge of Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend. The SPL is sympathetic towards referees and the criticism they have received in recent weeks but the way to address concerns is through dialogue, not to walk away from the
David Longmuir, SFL Chief Executive: “The SFL is extremely disappointed that despite our efforts nothing could be done to avert the course of action about to be taken by our referee colleagues this weekend. Throughout the last few days we have tried to find a solution for both the short and long-term which would have reinforced our existing support and admiration for all Scottish referees.
“Our commitment to that is unchanged. However, as a result of the action planned for this weekend, many of our clubs and supporters will feel let down.”
Meanwhile it has been reported that Category 3 officials are up in arms over the lack of a former ballot for this weekend’s proposed strike. It emerged that the officials are unhappy at not being consulted by their senior colleagues in Categories One and Two.
An email from Senior SFRA official James Bee, according to the Daily Record revealed that, he apologised for not consulting everyone over the protest, making it clear that the Category One officials would not back down. And he implied that the top officials expect backing from the rest of the officials.
Bee wrote, “At a meeting on Sunday the category one referees took the decision to withdraw their availability to officiate at matches this weekend. The following competitions are affected – the SPL, SFL, including the Alba Challenge Cup Final and Scottish Cup replays. The decisions of the category one and two referees were not taken lightly and must be respected. Unfortunately we have so far not been able to formally consult with the category three SAR referees. Please accept the apologies of the SSFRA for this and bear in mind I am also a category three SAR Referee.
“Until that time the position is as follows – category three and category three SAR referees:
1. Have not been formally consulted.
2. Are at liberty to officiate at any match they are appointed to this weekend if they so choose.
3. Can choose to support, or otherwise, the stance taken by category one and two refs.”
So not all referees and officials voted for strike action. Not all officials were consulted of the ballot and the referees failed to give enough notice to the SFA, SPL and the SFL about strike action. A minimum of 7 days must be given, but it looks as though Category One Referees are re-writing the rules of their own union and unions in general to suit their own needs. Where is the respect from the senior referee officials to their lower ranked officials? Stinks of nothing more than selfishness and self-importance from the senior officials.
Games affected by the strike action
Scottish Premier League: Celtic v Inverness CT, Hamilton v St Mirren, Hibernian v St Johnstone, Kilmarnock v Aberdeen (all Saturday); Dundee United v Rangers, Motherwell v Hearts (both Sunday).
ALBA Challenge Cup final: Queen of the South v Ross County (Sunday).
Scottish First Division: Cowdenbeath v Dunfermline, Greenock Morton v Falkirk, Raith Rovers v Dundee, Stirling Albion v Partick Thistle (all Saturday).
Scottish Second Division: Ayr v East Fife, Dumbarton v Alloa (both Saturday).
Scottish Third Division: Albion Rovers v Stranraer, Clyde v Queen’s Park, Elgin City v Berwick Rangers, Montrose v East Stirlingshire (all Saturday).
Scottish Cup Third Round replays: Threave Rovers v Stenhousemuir, Annan Athletic v Brechin City, Beith v Airdrie United (all Saturday).