We would ask that you all take a few minutes to read this.
We have heard of cases within Cheshire FA and even Wirral FA where referees have been written to by solicitors and alike who are representing players who have become injured during their games.
Wirral RA suggest that if you are in any doubt regarding the state of the pitch then you should err on the side of safety and call the game off.
Remember that Safety is your prime concern.
Portuguese players lose it nearing the end of a Round of 16 loss to Chile at the U-20 World Cup. At one point a player steals the referees red card, only to get shown it himself seconds later.
Following the statement by the SFA on Friday afternoon, in which it is claimed “Dougie, unprompted, decided to approach the assistant referee, Steven Craven”, it can be shown that this eventual version of events contradicts the statement made by McDonald to McBurney after the match. The following text contains extracts from McBurney’s comments in that report, with the relevant discrepancy brought to the top.
Additional comments (brought to top from bottom of report)
In the 69th minute a penalty kick to the C [Celtic] team was awarded. Mr McDonald was immediately met by DU [Dundee United] players. AR2 [Craven] had now positioned himself at the junction of the 18 yard line and the goal line, ready to view the expected penalty kick.
At the immediate post match discussion when I asked why Mr McDonald ran over to AR2, I was told that the assistant had communicated via the head set shouting "Dougie, Dougie".
A very brief discussion took place where the AR was asked if the DU keeper had touched the ball to which the AR confirmed it had. Based on this the penalty award was rescinded and a drop ball given.
While the correct decision, to rescind the penalty, was achieved the situation was very messy. The award, from a clear viewing position, should not have been given though once it was and realising before play had
restarted it was the correct action to rescind.
Shortly after, the fourth official called Mr McDonald over to warn the C coach regarding his behaviour after the drop ball. The instruction to the referee was to warn the C coach. This was done in a correct manner.
Description of match
A high tempo match that seldom flagged over the 90 minutes. The match was played by two teams playing in a positive manner that gave more play in the penalty areas than normally seen. Players were fully committed but there was little by way of malicious foul play.
Tempers did fray resulting in four players being cautioned for their aggression. Played in front of a nearly full stadium with a vocal crowd. Conditions were very good in both underfoot and weather.
Application and interpretation of the Laws of the Game / match control, tactical approach and management of the game, quoting details and time(s) of specific incidents
While I had few differences with the referee, I felt comfortable with the greater majority of Mr McDonalds awards. This match threw up more penalty box incidents than normal. I was in agreement with all but an award given in the 69th minute but that was subsequently changed after a brief discussion with AR2.
I felt that the award originally given against DU1 [Pernis] for tripping was not correct, his opponent fell over the keeper after he had played the ball away. I regard the initial award as a clear, important mistake. Several of the other penalty box incidents had little merit but others demonstrated sound judgement.
Tactics were dictated by the nature of the game, there was little scope for loosening the grip of this high tempo match. There were several good advantages played to the games benefit though the 70th minute advantage to Celtic after DU10 was not appropriate, coming shortly after the change of award the recently introduced substitute should have been penalised right away and warned to his future conduct.
69th minute: Penalty awarded incorrectly. This award was changed after consultation with the AR2, a drop ball was the correct restart in the circumstances.
64th minute: The ball strikes the arm of a DU defender. Correctly no foul as the ball was struck with force from close to the defender whose arm was not in an un-natural position given the circumstances.
79th minute: C18 goes to ground after colliding with DU 3. I feel that the attacker made more of the collision than there was. I agree that there was no foul though this a not straightforward decision.
9th minute: Clear push by DU18 not punished, referee in good position.
Despite occasions when inwardly calmness would not be the emotion felt, Mr McDonald projected a calm image. Good management of players with willingness to talk to them to encourage good conduct.
General comments, advice on performance and personality
A performance marred by a poor decision that gave the referee much difficulty, raising the tempo of an already high tempo match. While it was rescinded the incident was unnecessary, and messy. Outwith this incident, it was a good performance in a game that had frequent decisions to be made.
Positive points discussed with the referee
1) Good management of players. 2) Correct and consistent sanctions. 3) Outwith the 69th minute, other penalty area decisions were correct. Points for improvement discussed with the referee
1) From a good, clear viewing position an important decision [was] incorrect.
Overall mark given to referee: 7.9. A mark of this number indicates one clear, important mistake has been made. The full evaluation scale is as follows: 9.0 – 10: Excellent performance (outstanding)
8.5 - 8.9: Very good (a highly commendable performance under quite challenging / challenging circumstances)
8.3 - 8.4: Good (an efficient performance, referee should maintain this standard)
8.2: Satisfactory with minor areas to develop
8.0 - 8.1: Satisfactory with specific areas for improvement
7.9: One clear important mistake, otherwise 8.3+
7.8: One clear important mistake, otherwise 8.0 - 8.2
7.5 - 7.7: Below expectation (significant point(s) to improve)
7.0 - 7.4: Disappointing (considerable improvement necessary)
6.0 - 6.9: Poor performance (unsatisfactory)
5.0 - 5.9: Major breach of interpretation of the Laws of the Game
Craven resigned following the controversial decision and though the SFA cleared match referee Dougie McDonald of any wrongdoing they did warn him about inconsistencies in his match report. McDonald had awarded Celtic a penalty during the game on October 17 but, following a discussion with assistant Craven, reversed his decision. Celtic manager Lennon was furious with the decision and Craven has told a newspaper that he and McDonald lied in the aftermath.
“Dougie ran towards me and said: 'I think I've f***** up.',” Craven told the Sunday Mail. “After the game Dougie said we should tell the referee supervisor (Jim McBurnie) that I called him over to question the penalty award.
"I went along with it because I wanted to be supportive of Dougie. But then Neil Lennon came in after the game and asked Dougie why he hadn't given the penalty kick.
"We told Neil the version that was a lie. It was wrong to lie. And I'm not proud that I went along with Dougie's suggestion.”
The linesman also accused the SFA, and in particular referees’ chief Hugh Dallas, of “harassment and bullying”. Dallas claimed after the match that Craven had told McDonald of his mistake but the SFA inquiry revealed that McDonald had realised his own error and subsequently spoken to his assistant.
Craven says Dallas was reluctant to accept that version of events and said the former FIFA listed referee’s attitude had other referees considering their future.
"Morale is low, rock bottom in fact," he told the newspaper. "But it is down to the pressure being put on some officials by Dallas. "I'd had enough of Hugh Dallas and John Fleming. For a while I felt I had been the victim of harassment and bullying from them. "Hugh has changed some things for the better, but I just wish he'd stop treating the officials like children. A lot of guys are not happy with it and are ready to walk away."
The SFA has accepted Craven’s resignation for the professional game but the official says he intends to continue refereeing at an amateur level.
In a statement from the SFA, Regan said: "Fulfilling the weekend fixture calendar is our priority."
George Peat, the SFA president, called the decision by category one referees to refuse to officiate as a "sad day for Scottish football".
Referees have voted to strike in protest at criticism from clubs.
The referees claim their personal safety is under threat, both on the pitch, and from fans following criticism over decisions made during recent matches.
Referee Dougie McDonald sparked controversy when he admitted to lying to Celtic manager Neil Lennon about how he and his assistant referee Steven Craven came to overturn a penalty decision for Celtic at Tannadice against Dundee United on 17 October.
The SFA subsequently censured McDonald for his handling of the post-match administrative process, although McDonald has resisted calls, notably from Celtic, for him to resign.
As a result, some referees feel their integrity is being questioned excessively by factions within Scottish football.
Earlier on Monday, the Scottish Senior Football Referees' Association notified the SFA of their intention to strike on Saturday and Sunday, which would threaten the Scottish Premier League fixtures.
A statement from Ralph Topping, chairman of the SPL said: "the prospect of games being threatened is hugely regrettable" and asked for "patience and restraint" while the SFA chief executive Stewart Regan conducts his review of the governing body in Scotland.
The SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster told the BBC he was disappointed that the referees had voted to go on strike and said fans would be the people hardest hit, but it was vital that the weekend's matches went ahead.
"It's for the SFA to deal with the referees and try to resolve the issue," said Doncaster.
"If the situation cannot be resolved and the strike goes ahead, we will back the contingency plans."
BBC Scotland has learned that Scotland's 14 category two referees have agreed not to step in to replace their colleagues by officiating SPL or Scottish Football League matches.
Peat, who hopes to arrange meetings to settle the dispute, added: "We will do everything we possibly can to broker a deal before the weekend because it's obviously important that officials are on duty.
"We do not condone the strike but we must sympathise with the grievances of the referees."
SFA chief Regan insisted he understood the plight of referees, but echoed Peat's criticism of the strike action and urged discussions to resolve the dispute.
"I have every sympathy for the refereeing fraternity at this time," said Regan.
"I cannot, however, condone what will amount to strike action and believe we must now engage in positive dialogue to avert the possibility that we will have no football this weekend.
“We have an obligation to the leagues, supporters, clubs, sponsors and media partners to do our utmost to ensure all senior games are refereed.
"While we remain hopeful that the situation can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, we have no option but to draw up contingency plans, which will involve sourcing match officials in other countries."
Celtic are known to welcome the strike, hoping it may lead to an investigation by Uefa into refereeing standards. But Uefa described the fall-out as "a purely domestic matter" and have said they would not become involved. Peat appeared to make a veiled criticism of Celtic in his statement, who have been at the heart of the controversy since the incident involving McDonald at Tannadice in October.
He said: "The behaviour of some people in recent weeks has tarnished the image of Scottish football. It has demeaned the game.
"The climate of inference, innuendo and conspiracy theories must stop."
BBC Scotland has learned that Welsh and Irish Fifa-approved referees are available to take charge of the affected matches, while English referees are also believed to be an option.
However, the move would incur extra expense for the SFA and matches elsewhere in Scotland are likely to be postponed due of a lack of officials.
Former referee Kenny Clark told BBC Scotland on Monday morning that he believed comments made last week by Celtic chairman John Reid - where he described McDonald's position as "completely untenable" - were the final straw.
"I suspect that is what put the tin lid on things, but it is a crisis that has been building up in recent years," said Clark.
"There is a decreasing level of respect being shown to match officials right across society and that is fanned by the remarks emanating from some of the clubs.
"Essentially (the referees) want to ask that other clubs recognise that some pressure has to be brought to bear particularly upon Celtic, currently, to act in a more responsible manner, to stop fanning the flames of the fans' fury.
"The concern of the officials is that it is only a matter of time before a match official or a member of a match official's family is the subject of an attack."
Asked if he thought the strike could be averted, Clark said: "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.
"Every club allows their fans to direct abuse at match officials and therefore they are all implicated to some extent."
The FA releases hugely encouraging National Game Strategy figures next week revealing that 1,840 new referees have been recruited into football an increase of 7.4 per cent on 2009, taking their first steps towards becoming the next Webb.
While voicing pride in the "very good" referees in English football, the FA admits Clattenburg could have handled the Gomes/Nani incident better. As the fallout from Clattenburg's refusal to rule out Nani's goal against Redknapp's side highlighted, refereeing has always stirred great, often intemperate, debate but this season has seen an intriguing dynamic.
Managers appear increasingly militant towards officials yet English referees have never been more in demand around the world.
Webb, Clattenburg, Martin Atkinson, Mike Dean, Andre Marriner, Lee Probert and Stuart Attwell are involved in European competition and also get invited to oversee high-stakes games from Rio to Tokyo. Even the Scots have discussed asking an Englishman to control Old Firm confrontations.
The FA hosted a group of 30 South Korean referees at a workshop in Manchester on Tuesday, the visitors taking in the Old Trafford Museum and a trip to Carrington where they broke into whoops of delight on meeting Ji-Sung Park. "I'm very happy to see Korean referees come here and learn from the good English referees,'' Park said.
The perception in England is that player dissent towards referees is bad but Park stressed it was worse elsewhere. "In Korea, there are many problems with players always arguing with the referees but in England that doesn't happen,'' said the United midfielder.
"When I came to England [from PSV Eindhoven in 2005] I saw the players respect the referees' decisions. There are always arguments about the games in the papers afterwards here but in Korea the arguments are during the game.
"Players have to respect referees. They are human beings. Maybe they make mistakes but that's part of football. I like English referees because they keep the tempo high. They don't break the game up. Sometimes they let tackles go if it's not serious. In Korea they stop the game too many times. I like it to flow. Referees have to improve a lot in Korea.
"What Howard Webb has done shows the quality of English referees is high in the world. They deal with the Premier League so that means they can deal with the best competitions in the world."
Redknapp might disagree. Tottenham's manager was enraged by Clattenburg's decision to allow Nani's goal to stand at Old Trafford on Oct 30. "By the letter of the law, Mark didn't do anything wrong,'' said Ian Blanchard, the former Premier League official now head of national referee development at the FA.
"Mark had two big decisions to make,'' continued Blanchard, also a referees' assessor. "First, was there a penalty with Kaboul on Nani? Mark clearly says there was no penalty.
The next incident is the handball [by Nani]. Was there a deliberate handball? Yes there was. Mark, in communication with his assistant linesman, decides he's seen it, the goalkeeper has possession, let's play on.
"There's 84 minutes into the game and Spurs [trailing 1-0] need the advantage. Most referees would do the same. Mark perhaps should have communicated what he was doing better and clearly indicated, 'I'm happy nothing untoward happened, I've seen everything, let's play on'. That's a learning point."
Blanchard added that Clattenburg could have clarified his decision on television afterwards. "Referees are encouraged to talk afterwards to explain a point of law. It would be of benefit to the spectators as well.''
It would also take the sting out of acerbic comments from managers like Redknapp, who escaped an FA charge for his remarks about Clattenburg.
"Managers are outspoken, and have every right to be at times, but there is a process in place for talking about referees,'' continued Blanchard. "There is a 30-minute window after games where managers can knock on the door and speak reasonably to referees. Some do that. Others prefer not to. They go to the press and the next thing we know we've got headline news.
"Some referees take notice of what is said in the media and sometimes their confidence is shot through. It's about having the strength to overcome this adversity. Mark is typical of the referees who do show tremendous courage.
"Managers' comments are unfortunate. It also has an impact on grass-roots because managers and players are role models. Four years ago, a head teacher from a secondary school in the Midlands rang me on a Monday and said: 'I really want you to consider the decline in the behaviour of the boys as a result of what happened on TV in live games over the weekend. Please, please, as the governing body, get something done'.
"We have to appreciate the stresses and strains of being a manager, just as much as a manager has to appreciate the stresses and strains of being a referee. We'd like managers and players to understand what we are doing."
Blanchard has sympathy with managers' call for some assistance for officials – "we need to look at goal-line technology'' – but emphasised the quality of the men in the middle.
"We have some very good refs in the Premier League, Football League and semi-pro. We have been asked by a number of countries to send refs over to referee their high-profile cup finals and end-of-season games in Brazil, Australia and Japan.
"The achievements of Howard at the Champions League final and the World Cup speaks volumes for the general standard of refereeing in this country. With Howard and the 'Football Needs' [recruitment] campaign our basic refereeing courses in our county FAs are now often full."
Key rows with refs this season
- Avram Grant called Michael Oliver’s decision to deny West Ham a penalty for Jean Beausejour’s shirt tug on Lars Jacobsen at St Andrew’s last week “a farce”.
- Tony Pulis called for referees to face relegation after Martin Atkinson failed to penalise Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole for a handball against Stoke.
- Harry Redknapp criticised Howard Webb after Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Sunderland on Tuesday, saying: “It was a blatant penalty.”
- Ian Holloway was charged for confronting Mike Dean in the tunnel after Blackpool’s loss to Blackburn in September