Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Referee McDonald blows final whistle with a warning for Scots

Dougie McDonald last night hit out at the Scottish Football Association for failing to protect referees from attacks on their integrity as he announced his immediate retirement from the professional game.

McDonald has stepped down from the SFA's category one list in an attempt to move the spotlight away from his role in the crisis engulfing Scottish football.

McDonald's decision to rescind a penalty he had awarded to Celtic last month and subsequent admission that he had misled his supervisor and Celtic manager Neil Lennon over the circumstances, sparked the escalation of events leading to this weekend's referees' strike action.

McDonald initially resisted pressure to resign over what he claimed was a “white lie” told to protect his assistant, Steven Craven.

Celtic chairman John Reid called for him to quit 10 days ago and McDonald has done so — but only so his colleagues are given the opportunity to rebuild their relationship with the SFA, managers, clubs and fans.

And McDonald, who received a warning from the SFA over the inaccuracies in his post-match statements on the Dundee United v Celtic match, insisted the problems were rooted deeper than the Tannadice encounter.

In a statement, McDonald said: “My category one colleagues decided rightly to withdraw their services from matches this weekend in response to the outrageous way they have been treated by sections within Scottish football and in my opinion, the lack of support they have received from the SFA general purposes committee in recent years.

“However, their united stand and the position of strength they have established this weekend, has been clouded by one issue, namely the aftermath of the Dundee United v Celtic match on October 17.

“I apologised for my role in that and wanted my previously unblemished 29-year career to move on.

“Now is the time for all of Scottish football to move on.”

McDonald warned that another weekend of strike action would “undoubtedly” come if the football community did not temper its criticism of referees.

And he hopes his decision to stand down will lead to media coverage concentrating on “those who engage in referee-bashing and those who condone it.”

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