Scottish referees vote to walk out over managers’ criticism
Scottish football faces disruption next weekend after its leading referees voted to go on strike.
Scotland’s top officials are upset with the level of criticism that has come their way this season from clubs and managers, with some referees also fearing for their personal safety if the backlash continues.
The unanimous decision to strike was reached at a referees’ union meeting on Sunday afternoon.
Former referee Kenny Clark said: “Referees are at the end of their tether, and it’s not just how it’s impacting on them but it’s the impact it’s all having on their families and business lives.
“Businesses in which referees are employed are being targeted by fans sending hate emails to employers saying things like, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwhy are you employing this guy?'”
Six Clydesdale Bank Premier League games are scheduled for next weekend, as well as a full card across Scottish Football League.
Clark continued: “I get the impression that there is no way it will be halted. I would imagine they want to make their mark, to make people appreciate that things have reached a crisis point.
“It is aimed at every club throughout the country. Celtic have been the catalyst, I suspect, for this latest crisis, but every club is implicated to some extent.”
An Scottish Premier League (SPL) spokesman said: “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.”
SFA president George Peat said: “We do not condone the strike but we must sympathise with the grievances of the referees.
“Unfortunately the behaviour of some people in recent weeks has tarnished the image of Scottish football. It has demeaned the game.
“The culture of inference, innuendo and conspiracy theories must stop. Referees have always had criticism. Most clubs fortunately take that as part of the game and they leave them alone.
He added: “If we consider that some of the comments have brought the game into disrepute, then we would take action, but we haven’t considered that yet.”