Douglas Ross: I get more abuse as Tory than linesman

Douglas Ross has said he receives more online abuse for being a Conservative MP than for being a football linesman.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton (centre) speaks with Douglas Ross MP in his role as linesman. Picture: SNS

The Moray MP was at the centre of controversy last week when he was filmed shouting “red card” at referee Willie Collum to help ensure the sending-off of Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic in a match against Rangers.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers questioned the actions of Mr Ross, saying: “The linesman couldn’t wait to give it and that’s not his job. His job is to assist in the decision, not to make it.”

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But Mr Ross, 34, said he was shouting to be heard above the roar of the Ibrox crowd on Sunday – and revealed his email inbox and social media feeds were packed with “feedback” from fans before he left Glasgow.

His hopes of representing Scotland at this year’s World Cup were crushed after his decision to miss a vote in the House of Commons to officiate at a European tie was heavily criticised.

Mr Ross said the episode was “bruising” and revealed he knew as he stepped on to the pitch at the Camp Nou in Barcelona to run the line at a Champions League qualifier that his dream of getting to Russia this summer was over.

However, the referee revealed he is hopeful he can in the future resume officiating at top European and international games – but only when the House of Commons is in recess.

Mr Ross said: “I now get more online abuse for being a Tory MP than an assistant ­referee – well, perhaps with the exception of some of the big matches.

“With the Old Firm match last weekend, there was a definite spike in traffic or feedback you might call it – but it tended to be along the lines of ‘You’re an idiot’ rather than anything more sinister.

“Quite a few emails, a lot of Facebook messages and a lot of tweets, and that was before I had even left Glasgow to head home after the game.

“I used to get really wound up by comments on social media, either for the football or politics, but I am never going to convince these people so there’s no point.

“The only thing I would say is I have a duty of care to my staff. They have to read these messages and field the calls, so sometimes I worry about them.”

Last October Mr Ross was at the centre of a media storm when he missed a vote on Universal Credit to be an assistant referee at a Champions League match between Barcelona and Olympiakos in Spain.

SNP MP John Mcnally raised the issue in the Commons, even brandishing a red card, and Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to defend Mr Ross against charges he was more interested in his hobby than his constituents.