Irish refs may be asked to pass Scottish picket line

Scottish football chiefs look to Irish refs as SPL whistlers set to strike this weekend.

Alan Kelly may want to check that his passport is valid.
Alan Kelly may want to check that his passport is valid.
Image: Inpho

SCOTLAND’S TOP BRASS have confirmed that they are looking to Ireland for replacement referees after Scottish grade one officials voted to go on strike this weekend.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has says that he has contingency plans, one of which is looking to Ireland as well as Scandinavia. He told English radio station talkSPORT:

We’ve got to make sure we bring in referees from those countries who are available. It could be the Republic of Ireland, it could be the Scandinavian countries, there are a number of options open to us and we will be exhausting all of those.

There will be a cost, it will be expensive bringing people in, not just match fees but the expense of getting them here as well.

It affects 20 matches, a huge number of matches to cover and we sympathise with the referees because they’ve had a tough few weeks and they have been under massive scrutiny with challenges to their integrity.

As the Airtricty League has finished, its top referees would be available to cover SPL games but there has been no approach as of yet from the SFA to Abbotstown.

In Northern Ireland there is a full fixture list as the Carling Premiership continues, so its top referees would not be available.

An FAI spokesperson, Peter Sherrard, told the Irish Daily Star’s Mark McCadden: “If an official request came in, we’d consider it, but we would have to consult with our referees first.”

However, Irish Soccer Referees’ Society chief Bernard Foy said: “I’d be hopeful none of our members would interfere with the business of refs in another jurisdiction.” He added, in the Star:

We work with one another in various international tournaments and there is a solidarity there.

It is a little early to give a complete answer on all of this because I am not aware of an offical approach being made by the SFA as of yet.

A spokesman for the Football Association of Wales said it was highly unlikely they would be able to help out while England’s Premier League do not have sufficient numbers of officials themselves to offer elsewhere.

SFA officials are meeting with referees today in an attempt to avert the action.

RTÉ’s Darren Frehill has also just tweeted the following: “FAI have confirmed to me that no official contact has been made about using Irish refs! Were scots talking rubbish this morning!!”

Read the background to the strike here.

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