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Referee crisis: Name and shame guilty parties, says Rangers manager Walter Smith


Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith has urged the Scottish Football Association to name those they believe are guilty of questioning the integrity of referees after protesting the innocence of his own club.

Smith is unhappy with reports claiming the SFA will write to all senior clubs asking them to back their match officials because he is adamant neither he, nor anyone else at Rangers, has ever challenged the honesty of a referee.

The Ibrox boss insists treating all clubs in the same way on this issue is unfair, as Scottish referees prepare to strike this weekend in protest at their treatment.

Smith said: “It starts to get a bit fudged and muddled when the chief executive of the SFA mentions yesterday that they were going to send a letter to all clubs asking them to categorically state that they would not question the integrity of referees.

“Well, I don't think anybody at my club — and certainly I haven't — questioned the integrity of any referee. So there would be no real need for him to send a letter and I'd be a little bit disappointed with that.

“They are trying to fudge an issue here. If they have got a problem with people that they feel are questioning the integrity of a referee, then they should name those people.

“That's exactly what they should do, instead of making criticism on a broad basis.”

Celtic chairman John Reid had called on the SFA to consider asking referees to declare their allegiances earlier this month, days before the officials' union called a strike for this weekend.

Smith added: “I make it clear, referees are out there, they have to make a decision and sometimes we will disagree with that decision.

“We go in and see them 15 minutes after the game, express our disappointment at the decision and get their opinion.

“Occasionally, it's been made public but I would never question their integrity as to why they have made that decision.

“I don't think there is any need for them to write a letter to every club asking them to state that they will not question that integrity.”

He added: “What are they going to do? Blame the lot of us for it? I don't feel I've done anything to question the integrity of the referee.

“I've argued about their decisions but we should always have a right to do that because we are all under a level of scrutiny. But questioning the integrity of referees is a totally different thing.

“If it's one club they have to name them. Or come up with some kind of evidence that I, or my club, has questioned the integrity of the referee.”

Smith believes the SFA should have acted sooner to tackle the problem long before referees took the decision to withdraw their labour.

He said: “The responsibility rests with the SFA in terms of sorting it out, they are the ones who have to handle the referees on a management basis.

“If tougher action is required, then that's the way it should be. We can't continue to go on in the manner we have been for the last six to eight weeks, it's just impossible for us to do so.

“In my opinion, the SFA has to take a far harder line to get back to normal again.”

Smith added: “It's time for us all to draw a line in the sand and get back to talking about football, rather than anything else.

“It's not done the game in Scotland any good, not at all. It has been dragging on for too long. It seems as though for the last six to eight weeks all we're talking about is referees.

“We've had a couple of months where this issue with referees has come to a situation we've got this weekend. I don't blame them for that but it is about time it got sorted.

“If the referees' situation brings this to a head, then it will have been a good thing and we can end it and get on with our football again and get people speaking about what we are actually doing, which is playing football.”

Belfast Telegraph