Referees seek points deductions for clubs who abuse officials

Scotland's leading referees will raise the issue of points deduction with the Scottish Football Association for clubs who ignore warnings about their behaviour and continue to verbally abuse referees and question their integrity.

• Sanction: Former referee Stuart Dougal

Described as a "Utopian goal" by one top-flight official, the threat of heavy punishment by way of loss of points is something that the Category One officials believe might help reduce the temperature on the touchline on match days.

As ever, the unspoken word in all of this is Celtic, the Parkhead club being at the heart of this increasingly bitter spat with the SFA. On Friday night, the first casualty fell in the shape of Hugh Dallas, the head of referee development at Hampden, who departed amid a controversy about a bad-taste e-mail allegedly sent from his computer at the association. Celtic fans have been calling for his resignation for weeks and celebrated wildly in cyberspace once the news of his departure was confirmed.

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Their mood, no doubt, will darken again at the possibility of a points deduction system. The referees accept that it will be difficult to implement and that certain clubs might have issues with it, but they want it discussed at the top level and they are sure there is huge merit in the plan.

More: Scotland's refereeing fallout

• SFA braced for more sackings over e-mail

• Tom English: 'In effect, they were using the Pope as a pawn in their game'

• English officials get same stick, says Darren Randolph

Walter Smith lays down gauntlet to 'slow' SFA as he backs refs

• Tom English: what will the referees' strike achieve?

"Points deduction is something the Category One referees will want to talk about," said Stuart Dougal, a close ally of his former colleagues.

"It's one of the suggestions they've come up with. It would be for the protection of everybody in the game - managers and players. It would set out clearly what is acceptable and what isn't and the penalty for over-stepping the mark. Nobody has a problem with a manager questioning a decision a referee makes but when certain people start saying that a ref 'couldn't wait to give a red card against us' or say that the ref 'conspired against us', then that is not right. When it veers into conspiracy and innuendo, then there should be a clear sanction in place."

The referees feel that existing punishments are not working. Fines are futile and touchline bans are meaningless in the modern game where the lines of communication to the touchline are so sophisticated.

"These things are obviously not working," said Dougal. "Maybe imposing a points deduction system is a way of bringing back some sense to the game.

"Perhaps the only real way of dealing with clubs - and it's a small number - who carry on this way is to hammer them with points.

"We'll see what happens. But it's something the referees want to raise with the SFA."