Referees 'want more training and support' in wake of Celtic-Rangers fallout as views expressed at summit meeting

Officials and SFA met over weekend to discuss VAR situation and pressures on refs

Scottish referees says they are being treated like an “afterthought” and require better training following a meeting between officials and the Scottish Football Association over the weekend.

Discussions were held Hampden on Sunday in the wake of a controversial decision involving VAR operator Willie Collum during last month’s Old Firm clash between Celtic and Rangers at Parkhead. The Ibrox club requested the release of audio communication between Collum and match referee Nick Walsh surrounding the decision not to award them a first-half penalty after Celtic defender Alistair Johnston handled the ball under pressure from Rangers forward Abdallah Sima. Clarification was sought after footage and a still image were released showing an offside in the build-up to the incident, with reports Rangers have requested Collum is not involved in their matches going forward.

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The episode has led to increased tensions and further spotlight on referees. Speaking to the BBC, an official who was at Sunday’s meeting was quoted: “The leadership have no idea of the pressures we are under and they're just not prepared to support us properly. We need more investment and better training. They rely on a lot of goodwill from the referees but they seriously fail to understand the pressures that come with the profile. VAR has only increased that and we sometimes feel like an afterthought.”

Referees have faced intense scrutiny since the adoption of VAR.Referees have faced intense scrutiny since the adoption of VAR.
Referees have faced intense scrutiny since the adoption of VAR.

The BBC also reports that referees would be open to discussions on releasing the communications between the matchday officials and the VAR operators, but there would need to be an increase in their matchday fee.

In response, an SFA spokesperson said: “The Scottish FA will continue to support match officials in the face of intense and imbalanced media scrutiny, disproportionate criticism and wholly unacceptable abuse and intrusion.”

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