Head of referees Crawford Allan announces departure from Scottish FA

The governing body says Allan is leaving to 'pursue new opportunities'.

Scottish FA announce departure of referee chief Crawford Allan SNS Group

Crawford Allan is to leave his post as Scottish FA head of referee operations, the governing body has announced.

Allan will leave Hampden at the end of the current season, having spent over four years in the role and having overseen the introduction of Video Assistant Referees into Scottish football.

He intends to pursue new opportunities from this summer, while the Scottish FA will review the role before appointing a replacement, and could make changes to the remit to reflect the changes brought by VAR and the different demands on the job.

The official’s departure comes at a time when referees have come under increased criticism from managers and supporters, with the introduction of VAR having created frequent controversy.

Allan, a former top-level referee, said that he had been proud to oversee refereeing during a time of change and thanked those he had worked with during his time in charge.

“It has been an honour to lead Referee Operations in Scotland especially during such an historic period of change,” he said.

“Taking the role, after almost 30 years as a match official including 15 years in the top-flight, coincided not only with two years affected by the Covid pandemic, but also the inception and then introduction of VAR in Scottish football.

“While there are refinements and improvements to be made to VAR, as there are in leagues across the world, it has taken a monumental effort from my team at the Scottish FA and the match officials to have it embedded in the Premiership and cup matches at Hampden Park.

“VAR is only one aspect of the role, albeit one that can overshadow the positive strides we have taken forward. I am grateful to my team for their support. I would also like to thank the wider team in Referee Operations for their professionalism, often seven days a week, and the Referee Committee for their support and counsel.

“Above all, I would like to thank the match officials at all levels for their unwavering commitment to our national game.”

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Firstly, I would like to thank Crawford for his four years as Head of Referee Operations and especially his efforts in implementing VAR within Scottish football and guiding refereeing through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In many ways, overseeing the introduction of VAR has been a thankless task. Yet it has been essential for Scottish football to remain at the forefront of on-field technology and in-step with the leading domestic competitions across Europe, as well as ensuring our match officials and VAR operators can continue to operate at FIFA and UEFA level.

“Crawford has been integral to that process – from feasibility, to training, to roll-out – for much of his tenure and we are grateful that he will remain in place and provide continuity until the end of the season.

“Whilst there is a recognition that, globally, the VAR processes need to improve, this is a challenge for all key stakeholders within Scottish football to work through in the context of our own domestic competition. This includes all key external stakeholders having a better understanding of the Laws of the Game, the lines of intervention for VAR, and the adopted guidance within Scottish football, especially in subjective areas such as the handball law.

“We must work together to alleviate the unsustainable pressure on match officials and VAR operators, to remove the convenient blame culture attached to subjective or unpopular decisions, and to ensure more focus is placed on the entertainers rather than the on-field facilitators.

“We will continue conversations and improvements with all stakeholders with this as a non-negotiable and unifying premise as we seek to improve the experience for all.”

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