Published: 21/04/2017 15:00 - Updated: 20/04/2017 10:48

Charlie Christie: top-level officiating in Scotland is unacceptable

Written byCharlie Christie

Charlie Christie has questioned the standard of officiating at Scotland's highest level.
Charlie Christie has questioned the standard of officiating at Scotland's highest level.

I KNOW it is extremely easy and at times simplistic to have a go at referees and match officials but some of last weekend’s decision-making by the guys in charge was simply unacceptable at our top level.

I had just arrived back from a youth coaching session last Saturday afternoon to turn on the radio and hear that Alex Fisher had brought ICT level at Motherwell after being two goals behind and I genuinely thought that this could be a hugely pivotal match in a disappointing season, if we were able to finish off the comeback by snatching a winner.

However within a few minutes an astonishingly poor decision by the far side assistant referee saw Motherwell awarded a goal and their tails were up whilst the ICT players were gobsmacked at the award.

I listened as the pundits at the match comprehensively described the ‘non-goal’ and left listeners in no doubt that the decision was quite simply atrocious.

Christie is baffled as to how Scott McDonald's goal was allowed.
Christie is baffled as to how Scott McDonald's goal was allowed.

I studied the highlights of our match the following day and was taken aback how an assistant referee, who was over 50 yards away, could have made such a blatant mistake in judging that the ball had crossed the goal-line. As TV guest Michael Stewart stated there was a strong argument that none of the ball had crossed the line far less all of it!

In the same highlights programme I witnessed one of the weakest penalty awards in recent years when Ross County’s Alex Schalk went down late in their home game against Celtic; a referee who was less than 10 metres away points to the spot after absolutely no contact whatsoever from Celtic’s Eric Sviatchenko.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was visibly fuming after the match as he discussed the award and Rodgers said how disappointed he has been at some of the officiating he has witnessed in Scotland.

This, from Scott McDonald, was adjudged to have crossed the line. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
This, from Scott McDonald, was adjudged to have crossed the line. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

County manager Jim McIntyre was also honest enough to state it was never a penalty and he too was amazed at his team’s fortune at getting the spot-kick, which earned them a valuable point.

As I have mentioned previously, no-one is saying that refereeing a fast-paced SPFL match is easy but standards have to be set and it should be remembered that the payment received by one of our match referees at this level is close to a thousand pounds; well in excess of this country’s average weekly wage. Is it too much to demand that they get the most basic of decisions right a far higher percentage of the time?

After the dust had settled on those contentious issues surrounding last weekend’s matches the SPFL table looks hugely worrying for those of us that have the best interests of Caley Thistle at heart.

 

We are not totally devoid of hope just yet but we will probably need at least 10 points from 15 in our last five matches and even then we will need results elsewhere to go for us. This will be extremely difficult to achieve given the competitive nature at the bottom of the table but these teams are all beatable. It is a challenge that simply must be taken on headfirst.

It is sad to see how far we have slipped since the incredibly heady heights of our Scottish Cup triumph and first European adventure under two years ago, with an ICT side that was playing some of the best football in the club’s history. But football is an ever-changing landscape and there is little doubt we have toiled to replace the talent that has left the club in that period.

 

There have been other issues at the club which have not helped and undoubtedly contributed to our current difficulties. It is frustrating at times to work at the club and yet not be able to contribute in areas where I felt I could help but have not been given the chance.

For now all efforts must be on getting those wins, leapfrogging at least one side and, at the very least, taking our chances against Championship sides in the play-offs. The club has, barring the 2008-09 season, had an incredible roller-coaster of success and it is vital we do not relinquish our Premier League berth without fighting to the very last.

  • Charlie Christie is a former Caley Thistle player, manager and current head of youth development.
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