DCSIMG

All SPL fixtures on despite U-turn by Polish referees

THE Scottish Premier League have confirmed all six fixtures will be played as scheduled this weekend despite ongoing uncertainty caused by the referees' strike.

• The news from Poland piles more pressure on SFA chief executive Stewart Regan (left)and president George Peat

News emerged this morning that Polish referees had withdrawn their services from matches this weekend as attempts are made to cover the absence of the striking category one officials.

The Polish Football Federation confirmed yesterday they were planning on sending match officials, as did Israel while countries such as Portugal and Malta are also reportedly co-operating with the Scottish Football Association.

However, as top-level referees in Scotland refused to budge on their plans to strike on Saturday and Sunday, the Poles now claim to have other commitments.

However, an SPL statement said: "All six Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures across Saturday and Sunday will be played as scheduled despite confirmation from the Scottish FA that the weekend of strike action by Scottish Category 1 referees will go ahead."

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "The Scottish FA has acted quickly to put contingency plans in place.

"FIFA listed or Category 1 match officials from overseas will take charge of all Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend. The SPL fully supports these plans.

"It is deeply regrettable that Scottish match officials will not be taking charge of Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend.

"The SPL is sympathetic towards referees and the criticism they have received in recent weeks but the way to address concerns is through dialogue, not to walk away from the situation."

Earlier, a spokesperson for the Polish federation confirmed: "We will not be sending our referees to Scotland tomorrow because they are needed for our domestic games.

"We did confirm to the SFA yesterday that we would be sending a team of 12 officials but that is no longer the case. Our domestic games take place today (Friday], tomorrow (Saturday] and Sunday."

Meanwhile, Stirling Albion have demanded an explanation as to why they were omitted from the ballot for the one Scottish Football League match that will have a referee this weekend.

Scotland's first senior fan-owned football club also want clarification on the process for allocating match officials for the 20 games that are going ahead.

All Clydesdale Bank Premier League games have been allocated match officials with one SFL match receiving the services of a referee and assistant referees.

The Alba Cup Final and three Scottish Cup replays have also been allocated match officials.

Stirling spokesman Paul Goodwin said: "It's not clear why all SPL games appear to have been allocated match officials as a matter of course while all SFL games were subjected to the pot luck nature of a ballot.

"As this dispute impacts on all senior clubs we are keen to know why all senior games this weekend were not subjected to the ballot.

"We are also concerned that we were excluded from the ballot on the basis that our game against Partick Thistle was a rescheduled one due to our original league game against Ross County being cancelled due to their appearance in the Alba Cup Final.

"It is particularly disappointing that we were not made aware of this decision until after the ballot was conducted."

He added: "We estimate the loss in income from rearranging this Saturday's game against Partick Thistle to be in the region of 10,000, based on previous weekend attendances compared to midweek attendances and loss of other commercial revenue and unrecoverable costs. That is a significant sum of money which we cannot afford to lose."

The only remaining Scottish Football League fixture of the weekend, Falkirk's Irn-Bru First Division clash at Morton, was soon postponed.

An SFL statement read: "This is as a result of the recent withdrawal of the match officials who were designated for this match."

• How Scotland's weekend football card is affected

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Walter Smith admits he has "no idea" who will be refereeing their game against Dundee United on Sunday.

And, while disappointed at the strike action, he expressed sympathy for the plight of Scottish referees.

Smith said: "The problem is the situation we have at the moment has gone on a bit long.

"There has been an undercurrent of too much criticism of referees and they themselves feel it's time to bring it into focus to everyone.

"That is unfortunately the situation we are in at the moment.

"I don't think we can blame the referees for doing that, they've been under a fair bit of pressure this season especially.

"I don't think it's an action they wanted to take.

"Every one of us is disappointed this is the way it's turned out but I can sympathise with their reasons for doing so."

Smith also stressed that no-one at Rangers had ever questioned the integrity of match officials.

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page