Former Celtic captain Tom Boyd has launched a withering attack on Scottish referees and called for ‘neutral’ match officials to be imported in order to improve standards he believes are at an ‘all-time low’.
Boyd, pictured, made his unsparingly critical comments in the aftermath of a weekend which saw referee Andrew Dallas controversially award Rangers four penalties against St Mirren at Ibrox, while Willie Collum denied Celtic what their ex-skipper felt were two clear spot-kick claims against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
Now an official Celtic ambassador, Boyd insists the recent Scottish FA summit of Premiership managers and top-flight referees in Perth has failed to properly address the ongoing issues with the disciplinary process and standard of decision-making.
Referencing the Scottish referees’ strike of 2010, which came in the wake of similarly intense criticism from Celtic and other clubs of match officials, Boyd would like to see further use of foreign referees in domestic fixtures. During that brief strike, the Scottish FA recruited officials from Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus to take charge of games.
“There is something way wrong with the standard of officiating just now for whatever reason,” said Boyd. “It needs to be addressed and the only solution is to bring in the neutral referees who came in a few years ago and did ever so well.
“When you look at some of the decisions in certain games, the standard of refereeing is certainly not up to scratch. The summit meeting did no good whatsoever when you see in one weekend the decisions which are unjustifiable in terms of what goes on on a football park.
“I was very surprised Celtic didn’t get a penalty for the reckless challenge from Joe Shaughnessy on Odsonne Edouard. I do recall Willie Collum sending off James Forrest at Hamilton for a slightly lesser challenge, so there is no consistency in Mr Collum’s refereeing in a lot of Celtic games. That seems to be a massive problem just now.
“All of the penalties at the weekend must have been given away on the Saturday rather than the Sunday. There were two penalty kicks within the same incident at Perth, because Ryan Christie was tackled on the chest just before Shaughnessy’s challenge on Edouard. The Oliver Burke incident earlier in the game was also a penalty as you can’t go through the player to play the ball.
“They talk about things evening themselves up over the course of a season but I would need to wait about 100 years before they are evened up. You see the decisions which have been given, particularly at the weekend, where stonewall penalties were denied for us, where at another game [at Ibrox] the incident was outside the box yet it was given.
“It’s something which brings us back to what Jock Stein said, that we need to be better than referees. Sometimes that can be very difficult. It’s inefficiency and incompetence and it could be any referee at this moment in time.
“When I’m watching games, and Celtic games in particular because they’re the ones I see, they’re not offering protection towards Celtic players. I’ve seen two waist-high challenges on Edouard and neither were seen as fouls and that’s not acceptable.
“I don’t think it’s sinister, I just think there’s bad referees, very poor in their decision-making. It’s happening consistently – players aren’t being afforded protection. The amount of challenges that are going unpunished from opposition players on Celtic players – I can recall Ryan Bowman [of Motherwell] on Kieran Tierney, I can recall Jason Holt [of Rangers] on Patrick Roberts that was a two-footed challenge from behind – no foul given. So it is something that needs to be addressed.
“We’ve tried to address it – I believe the club are still looking for answers for the decisions from the derby game at the end of December and there haven’t been any solutions. It’s something we need to seek right away and the only solution I can see is bringing in neutral referees because the ones we have at the moment cannot handle the games, from what I’m seeing on the field.
“Video assistants would help to a degree, but you’re still going to have the same people who’ll be making those decisions. Would video assistant referees help them? Who knows, if you’re still getting the same answers. You can get four guys seeing different things going by their opinions. That’s what seems to be happening.The inconsistency of refereeing is absolutely frightening.
“It’s not just me who feels this way, it’s all the analysts on BT Sport, Sky, Premier Sports. We’re all in agreement the standard we’re seeing is at an all-time low in Scotland. Their interpretation seems to be different to other European referees.”