SFA referee chief hits back at Rangers: Clubs won’t dictate who officiates games

Rangers had previously requested that Willie Collum not referee their matches.

Scottish FA referee chief hits back at Rangers: Clubs won’t dictate who officiates games STV News

The Scottish FA’s head of referee operations Crawford Allan, has hit back at Rangers and insisted that clubs will not dictate who referees their matches.

Allan says the governing body will deploy match officials where they see fit and that his entire team of experienced referees has his backing.

In the aftermath of the recent Old Firm game at Celtic Park, the Ibrox club was furious that VAR official Willie Collum did not ask referee Nick Walsh to review an apparent handball by Celtic’s Alistair Johnston in the penalty area.

An earlier offside would have meant no spot-kick would have awarded but Rangers were unhappy with the decision-making process and, after hearing the VAR audio, with the “haste” that Collum showed in making the call.

The Scottish FA encouraged the Ibrox club to show “greater responsibility” on such issues after a club statement that highlighted their concenrs and said that a number of “specific requests” had been made to the governing body.

One of those requests was that Willie Collum not be selected for any games involving Rangers in the future.

The experienced referee did take charge of Rangers’ cup match against Ayr United last week, with manager Philippe Clement saying he was happy to see the official appointed, and distancing himself from the request.

Allan says the Scottish FA wouldn’t entertain any similar demands and will not be swayed by any club over referee appointments.

“We will continue to appoint referees wherever we see fit,” Allan told STV. “And we will appoint referees to matches with their experience and support the referees with appointment to any match we see they should be appointed to.

“We’ve got seven international FIFA referees in Scotland. We’ve got other experienced Category 1 referees who are either ex-international or have been around the Premiership for many years.

“Any single one of them will be appointed to any match we see fit, whether it’s tier one and Premiership, tier two Championship games, tier five. It doesn’t matter.

“Clubs cannot and will not dictate which referees get which matches.”

Allan was speaking after the Scottish FA-convened VAR Independent Review Panel’s latest update. The IRP, made up of former top level players, managers and coaches, review VAR decisions and give their opinion on whether the officials made the right calls on key incidents.

The latest report showed that the panel felt VAR was wrong on 13 major decisions, including Collum’s initial call on the ‘handball’, noting that a free-kick should have been awarded to Celtic after the offside.

The SFA’s own figures showed that 89.3% of on-field decisions have been reached correctly, increased to 97.6% when including VAR interventions.

Allan understands the mixed feelings and the complaints about the use of the system but from his perspective, he says it is clear that more important decisions are being made correctly and that’s the bottom line for referees and officials.

“In terms of VAR adding value in terms of a team winning the league or getting relegated or doesn’t through accuracy of decision-making, Scottish football is a better place for VAR,” he said.

“We’ve increased the accuracy of key decision-making by 8% or 9%. So the value to clubs and supporters of knowing there’s less of a chance of a league being won or a team getting relegated through a bad refereeing decision or because of a perceived error.

“So VAR has improved that.

“But the other side of the coin is a global issue. VAR is relatively new to football. If you look at rugby last week they have had challenges with the use of TMO in rugby and that’s with the use of open audio and everything else that they have.

“VAR and the use of tv changes the sport but in terms of accuracy it has absolutely helped.”

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