SCOTTISH REFEREES IN the late 90s and early 00s held a blatant pro-Rangers bias, according to one former Celtic player.
Alan Stubbs, speaking in conjunction with the release of his autobiography, How Football Saved My Life, claims that Celtic were made to suffer as a result of this alleged bias.
“At the time in Glasgow when I was there, I felt there was a definite bias towards Rangers,” he told TheScore.ie. “That was my opinion.
“It’s what I felt at the time, and what the players felt at the time. We felt that if there were any 50:50 decisions that were slightly in our favour, they went against us.”
Stubbs also claims that certain referees were inveterate Rangers fans and failed to hide their allegiance.
“You used to get a lot of stories coming out with a lot of referees being photographed with Rangers shirts on at functions… If there was a 50:50 decision and the referee’s a Rangers fan, what decision do you think he’s going to make?”
However, Stubbs believes the problem no longer exists, owing to the increased profile and accessibility of Scottish football nowadays.
“Now, with the TV and the commercial side, there’s no getting away from everything,” he explains. “Everybody’s in the spotlight and everything’s scrutinised now.”
Stubbs, who is now a coach at Everton, elaborates on the issue in his recently released autobiography, writing:
“Hugh Dallas was one of the top referees in the country, but from where I was standing on the pitch I felt he never needed much of an excuse to red card a Celtic player. That was part of a general Rangers–Celtic tension in refereeing that we had to deal with.
“In the opening three or four months of my first season in Scotland, Celtic had eight players sent off; Rangers, by contrast, hadn’t had a player sent off for about two years.”
He continues: “In England, there are quite clear rules about how referees aren’t allowed to officiate in matches that involve the teams they support. So for example, Chris Foy is an Everton fan, and so he is never picked to referee the Blues; Mark Clattenburg is a Newcastle fan and so he doesn’t officiate when they are playing.
“In Scotland, such was the dominance of Rangers and Celtic, it was more difficult to maintain such neutrality: if you took out all the Celtic and Rangers fans from the pool of potential referees, there wouldn’t be many officials left. Add in the fact that each club has its associations with Catholicism and Protestantism, and it’s easy to see how suspicions of bias can arise.”
‘How Football Saved My Life’ by Alan Stubbs is available to buy now. More details here.