Next weekend’s matches face being postponed after Category One referees voted to strike. The whistlers are upset with the amount of criticism that has come their way this season. And who blames the critics after the news of this broke.
Strike action was decided upon at a referees’ union meeting held this afternoon. Six SPL games and a full list of SFL fixtures could be at risk, with fans travelling all across the country to games losing money already paid out for travelling costs. On top of the league fixtures at risk, the ALBA Challenge Cup Final between Queen of the South and Ross County, and Scottish Cup replays are at risk also.
Reports from BBC Scotland state that officials are concerned that their integrity is being questioned and there are fears over personal safety as a result of public criticism from managers and the media. But why strike over an issue that was heightened by one of their colleagues – Dougie McDonald.
The referees are already free from accountability from poor decisions that they do make. Now they want to be free from criticism also?
The whistlers threatened to strike over pay in 2008, as they wanted to be paid what they felt they were worth. But after a review was set up to look at their wage demands – and subsequent increases to £1000 per game for referees handed out, planned action was cancelled.
The SFA have not commented on the news, with a spokesperson saying that they have not had any official notification of the planned strike.
A source at the SPL told BBC Scotland, “This is a matter for the SFA and the referees. The SFA have a contract to provide us with officials and we expect them to honour that.”
So if the SFA fail to honour that contract will the SPL take legal action against the governing body? Thats what usually happens when there is a breach of contract by one party or another. It could also lead to the SFL and SPL hiring their own referees from now and ditching the SFA totally.
New SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan has promised an overhaul of the referee disciplinary system, after the McDonald cover-up.
The questions are should the referees be free from criticism? Should they be free from punishment also if they fail to do their job? Are they worthy of their £1000 per game price tag? Has the criticism been over the top? Or has it been spot on?
Whatever their reasons, if the referees do strike, then football in this country will ground to halt. Unless the SPL and SFL decide to import referees from England, Wales and Ireland to cover this weekend’s game. IF that is feasible and allowed.
Only at the SFA and only in the job as a referee can you believe that you should be free from accountability, from critcism and still demand top wages per game.
Maybe the fans should strike in front of Hampden Park demanding action and accountability against their dodgy referees. Maybe the fans should refuse to turn up to games in protest.