The Celtic Supporters Association has sent an open letter to SFA Chief Ian Maxwell after another week of contentious decisions and an inability to grasp fundamentals of footballs by our officials. Not just in the Celtic game but in others around the country we continually see bizarre decisions which are not explained, and the referees involved not held accountable.

When we try to as fans and clubs to hold the referees accountable for their horrible decisions we get an arrogant backlash and a wave of ‘it’s a difficult job’ – we agree, that’s why it shouldn’t be delegated to people who can’t grasp the basics or attain a level of consistency which would see no room for debate.

When Celtic questioned officials about the Ibrox game in December and the subsequent refusal to retrospectively punish a player physically lashing out at Celtic players, the referees called a summit and threatened to strike off the back of it. Why?

After referee Kevin Clancy refused to apply common sense to the complete and utter lack of sportsmanship shown by Motherwell on Sunday the CSA wrote the letter below to Ian Maxwell.

Dear Mr Maxwell,

I don’t really know how much longer you can sit back and ignore the crisis surrounding the performances of the match officials in Scottish football. It seems that every week we have controversial decisions made in our top level matches.

I think I have stated before that I consider Kevin Clancy to be unfit to referee matches at this level, I believe yesterday’s performance by him at Celtic Park proves that assertion. At times yesterday afternoon it looked like he didn’t have a clue what was going on around him.

The incident when the Motherwell player James Scott latched onto a throw in and had a shot at goal which was saved by Scott Bain, but was scored by Ariyibi from the rebound, is a typical example of the lack of ability and common sense by Clancy, it actually resulted in three players being shown a yellow card by Clancy, who did nothing to help the situation.

I understand that the rules do not cover such an incident as when a player goes down injured and a team mate puts the ball out to allow him to get treatment. But is that not when top class officials come into their own? The problem we have in Scotland is, the players, and certainly the supporters have no respect for our match officials, and why is that? Simple, they are either completely incompetent, or in some cases, showing bias to one team over all the rest.

The real problem is what do we do about it? How do you get the players and supporters to respect the officials? Well one major problem is, that the person in charge, John Fleming is in exactly the same boat as the officials he supposed to be in control of, so if he is a major part of the problem, it is very unlikely he will be part of the solution.

I really think it is time to look outside of Scotland for some kind of solution, and I also think it is time to look at the whole disciplinary system as well. The rule book needs a severe overhaul. There needs to be rules put in place where we protect the integrity of the game, a match official who grows up having an allegiance to a certain team, should not be allowed to have an influence on that team’s fortunes.

I don’t necessarily mean we bring in match official from overseas, but I think the head of refereeing in Scotland should also have no allegiance to any particular team. I believe we can enhance the ability to referee by giving the officials the very best education we possibly can, and for me, that education isn’t available in Scotland.

I honestly believe that the majority of honest football supporters in Scotland are sick to the teeth of our match officials and their arrogance. Something needs to be done before a great many of them vote with their feet by stopping attending professional football matches. Then the game is up for not only some of the smaller professional teams but also for you and the rest of the authorities.

Joe O’Rourke,
General Secretary,
Celtic Supporters Association.


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