Raymond Crangle has hit back after coming under fire for taking the advice of his fourth official before sending off Donegal Celtic’s Stephen McAlorum against Linfield on Tuesday night.
The Belfast whistler fully admits he didn’t see the Hoops skipper stamp on Blues midfielder Michael Gault but was alerted to the incident by fourth offical Keith Halliday.
After a brief consulation, Crangle produced a red card, which sparked ugly scenes after only nine minutes before the champions cruised to a 6-2 win.
Celtic boss Paddy Kelly was so incensed by Halliday’s role in the decision, he pushed the offical and promptly followed his captain down the tunnel.
The incident has opened a can of worms about the role of the fourth official and Kelly urged the Irish FA to make the rules clear as mangers are becoming increasingly frustrated.
“The fourth official’s role is not to tell the referee if something was or was not a free-kick,” said Crangle.
“On Tuesday night Keith Halliday alerted me to a stamping incident which I didn’t see as it was off the ball and I had followed the ball.
“Ultimately the decision to send off Stephen McAlorum is mine as the referee, but my fourth official was 100 per cent sure there was a stamp and that is perfectly within his remit.
“The Donegal Celtic bench didn’t seem to quite grasp what the duties of the fourth offical are, and that maybe is a problem with other cluibs too.
“There is a bit of public perception that the fourth official is only there to gain free admittance to the ground and hold up a board to say how much injury-time there will be and what substitutions are being made.
“From our point of view, however, the role is quite clear and we showed that on Tuesday.
“The officials have to work as a team in any game and I think, from that perspective, it was first class on Tuesday becuase we made the right calls.
“Whether the IFA decide to initiate an educational programme to help managers and club officials understand the role of the fourth official is up to them.”
Furious DC boss Kelly was adamant the influence of the Windsor Park crowd and Blues boss David Jeffrey “bullied” Halliday into attracting the attention of Crangle.
“I wouldn’t accept that Keith Halliday was bullied into making any decision to inform me of an incident,” added Crangle.
“As officials we are all strong enough characters to know our responsibilites. Outside influences will never dictate a decision, be it on a bench or in the stand.”
Kelly now faces an eight-game ban for raising his hands to an official but Crangle insists it was totally out of character for one of the game’s good guys.
He added: “Paddy Kelly’s reaction to push Keith wasn’t something I have come to expect from him and it was totally out of character.
“I’ve known him a long time and he isn’t that sort of person but I hear he has apologised for his actions, which has to be commended. I think when he watches the incident back on the television, he will see he was wrong.”