Age limit for referees removed

The Scottish Football Association board has agreed to remove the mandatory retirement age for match officials. The change will come into force in time for the start of season 2012-13.

At the moment, officials are unable to referee beyond the age of 47 but criteria will now be based on fitness and performance, irrespective of age.

The outcome follows a period of review undertaken by the referee committee, which included a presentation to the professional and non-professional game boards, and a recommendation submitted and passed by the main board.

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John Fleming, head of referee development, said: “This is a positive step and I am delighted the Scottish FA board has approved the removal of the age cap in time for the start of next season.

“The fitness of referees has increased significantly and, with the advances in sports science, we have been able to tailor programmes for individual referees.

“We have seen examples elsewhere of match officials maintaining standards beyond the previous cut-off of 47 and it will be a major benefit to us in Scotland.

“It means referees will enjoy greater longevity if they maintain their levels of fitness and performance and will enable the referee development department to incorporate longer-term planning into our current commitment to match officials.”

John McKendrick, chairman of the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association added: “The SSFRA welcomes the removal by the Scottish FA of an upper age limit to the List of Referees.

“We believe that Scottish football is best served by making full use of the talents of the most competent referees who are fully committed to both improving their own personal performance and making a full contribution to the development of refereeing in Scotland.

“Scotland’s referees are highly professional in their approach and commit many off-field hours to maintaining and improving their standards.

“Performance, rather than age, should determine who is eligible to officiate in Scottish professional football.”