SCOTLAND’S top referee Hugh Dallas today denied that his decision to retire was influenced by the increased media pressure surrounding his late penalty award to Rangers in the controversial game against Hearts.
Dallas has been firmly in the spotlight since his decision to award the Ibrox side a disputed late penalty at Tynecastle last month on the advice of his assistant referee Andy Davis.
The Lanarkshire official will call time on his 25-year refereeing career, during which he has achieved an MBE for services to football, at the end of this season, a year earlier than the compulsory retirement age of 48.
However, he insists the decision was reached and confirmed to the SFA well before that controversial night at Tynecastle.
Dallas said: "I spoke to the chief executive of the SFA and to the head of refereeing Bob Valentine in January, as well as members of my family, and decided to go at the end of this season.
"I want to go when I want to go, not when someone forces me to, and this is the right time to finish. There is nothing political in this and I actually wrote to the SFA to tell them before the Hearts-Rangers match."
There still remains the possibility of Dallas continuing his involvement in refereeing in a supervisory role, one which many referees have decided to take up after blowing their final whistle.
Dallas has not yet ruled out such a possibility but his next move will be intensely thought out before a conclusion is reached.
He added: "I don’t know if I will stay on as a supervisor. That is for other people at the SFA to decide. I will draw breath between now and the end of the season, then take the close season to decide what I’m going to do."
Dallas will bow out as one of the world’s top officials having refereed at the pinnacle of the game in the Champions League and the World Cup finals.
As well as the hotly-contested penalty award that gave Rangers a 2-1 victory he will also be remembered for the coin-throwing incident at Celtic Park in 1999 when he was stuck as Rangers prepared to take a corner.
Dallas continued: "The job has become harder. The game has become faster and there is definitely a lot more gamesmanship than there used to be. There are plenty of things I will miss about the game, but I won’t miss the ill-informed comments that you hear on radio phone-ins."