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RODGERS WELCOMES FOREIGN REFS

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BRENDAN RODGERS believes Scottish football should look to bring in foreign referees, as former skipper Tom Boyd argued in CQN last week.

The Celtic boss insists there is too heavy a burden on match officials to handle so many crucial games.

Whistlers have come in for mounting criticism in a season where some of their decision-making has proved to be in error and their judgement cleary inaccurate and flawed.

Last month, the SFA, referees and managers came together for a meeting in Perth to discuss the best way forward, with the introduction of VAR given across-the-board backing.

Rodgers is also an advocate of full-time officials, believing the number of correct decisions will inevitably increase if the funding could be found.

The Parkhead gaffer, who is preparing the holders for their home Scottish Cup-tie against St Johnstone tomorrow, feels consideration should now be given to bringing in officials from other nations.

Asked if he would welcome such an introduction, he answered: “Yes, and I’m not just saying for high-profile games.

“This is a fanatical football country, but there’s a really small pool of referees.

“If something happens or they need help, there’s no way to do it. You can’t demote – as there’s no-one there to do it.

“There’s constant pressure on them. For me, it’s definitely something that has to be looked at.

CROCKED…Odsonne Edouard writhes in pain after a reckless challenge against St Johnstone.

PAINFUL…Ryan Christie goes down holding his ribs after a high kick during the Perth encounter. Pics: Geo.

“You want to attract more referees, so why close it to just here? Open it up and have the best referees who could come from England or Wales, or wherever.

“Then you have a diverse group of referees. Okay, they might need help with expenses or whatever, if they are coming up from Swansea, but it opens up the pool.

“That will also help the local refs. It’s about constant education, but it doesn’t shine the torch on the same referees all of the time.”

Shortly after taking over as Celtic manager in May 2016, Rodgers raised concerns about the safety of players being endangered by wild tackles not being deemed serious enough to merit a red card.

Speaking after Emilio Izaguirre was fortunate to escape serious injury, following a lunge by Hibs’ Darnell Johnson in midweek that saw the Honduran defender stretchered off, the Irishman claimed those fears were as real as ever.

He had also witnessed Odsonne Edouard assist off by the medics three days earlier after a high challenge from St Johnstone captain Joe Shaugnessy.

He added: “Does player safety remain a concern? Yes. I said in my first year here that some of the sanctions here surprise me – it’s bitty.

“I don’t tend to go after the referees in these situations. The poor guys refereeing the games are amateurs, with all due respect.

“The spotlight is on them severely from a professional side. They are going to make mistakes and then the aftermath seems a bit complicated. That will continue.

“We all love the aggression and the physicality of the competition. That’s great.

“But if your game is going to improve, there always has to be a line. Too often, it’s lawless or whatever word you want to use.

“You don’t want to get to a stage where anything goes.”

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