Calls for foreign referees are not new in the Scottish game, but refs have successfully resisted the idea. It is in their economic interests to have only Scottish referees take charge of Scottish games, and, most of all, they want control of the country’s biggest games. The argument has been that if a referee works his way through the system for years, he should not be denied the opportunity to take control of the biggest games in the land.
The SFA have been sympathetic to this argument for decades but are now confronted by the country’s major clubs telling them standards are not good enough to support the game at the level it is being played at in Scotland. A window of unanimity opened when the rent-a-statements across the city were twice hit by extended bans in a week, making it difficult for them to avoid the follow on question, “If things are not good enough, why not ask for change?”
Behind this issue lies a longstanding desire for Scottish Premiership clubs to see the SFA focus more on administering youth and amateur football, and the international team, leaving the professional game to the SPFL, where appropriate performance standards across a range of issues can be set.
Those who want a fair and open game have nothing to fear from foreign referees. Arguments against this proposal amount to little more than an expression of self-interest. I suggest we move quickly before some realise that decades old affinities are at risk.
I see Newco are reinforcing their 8 point deficit bunker with volleys at the BBC. It is comforting to preach to the choir but it is also pointless. The BBC is a broadcasting mammoth. It employs over 20,000 staff and churns out an enormous volume of material. Its power bases are geographically, culturally, politically and ethnically diverse. Try conspiring in an organisation with 20 people and you’ll see why.
It will get things wrong. It will employ people whose views you do not like and its protocols will infuriate you – after all, they must search for hours trying to find some loon to ‘balance’ all the sense coming from a prevailing opinion (a personal gripe). But in the history of broadcasting and media, no organisation has been subject to as vigorous and accessible oversight. It is not intellectually honest to suggest otherwise.