St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin has called for refereeing in Scotland to become a full-time job, and he believes it would attract ex-players to take up officiating.
Goodwin was speaking after refereeing standards were criticised by Ross County boss John Hughes and by Hamilton Accies manager Brian Rice within the last week.
Rice expressed his anger after a 3-0 defeat to St Mirren in the Scottish Cup, and said that Accies were being mistreated and not getting fair decisions.
Goodwin had sympathy with Rice but said every club in the top flight had complaints about decisions this season and that change was needed to lift the standards.
Stressing that he believed referees were doing their best, he said without technology to help, it made sense to dedicate more time to the job to become better.
“Officiating has been brought into question and there’s no doubt about that. I think we need to try and improve the game as an overall spectacle,” Goodwin said.
“There has been some disappointing refereeing decisions both for and against every team.
“I think we’re all of the understanding that referees are doing the very best that they can do under the circumstances. There’s no referee out there that makes a poor decision deliberately.
“But I think we need to give them all the assistance we can. We know we don’t have the financial capability to go and get VAR but I think if we could go a step in the direction of trying to make our referees go full time then it would go some way towards improved performances.”
Asked how the game could afford to raise wages to accomodate full-time hours, the Saints manager insisted it was affordable and pointed out on a game-by-game basis officials were earning more than some top flight players.
Goodwin acknowledged some referees would be reluctant to give up careers to go full-time but he said that would be compensated for by an influx of new officials, and that former players could make up that number.
“It’s probably among the best paid part-time jobs in the world being a referee in the Scottish Premiership,” he said.
“I know most of the referees have got good, steady occupations and things that they’ve worked hard to get into. I do think that if you opened it up and made it a full-time job then you would get inundated with applicants, and maybe even some ex-players.
“I think it would be a great opportunity for ex-players who can’t get into the coaching side of things but want to stay in the game.
“The money’s there, no doubt about it. We’re running around just now with referees getting paid more money than some of the players on the park. I think going down the full-time route would be a positive step.”