Celtic’s proposal has been public for less than a day and already it’s been opposed by some of the hacks, the national coach, the national broadcaster itself has jumped into it, and now the refs union has gotten its licks in.
Talk about vested interests getting together to protect the status quo.
Discussions aren’t even underway on the motion Celtic supposedly wants to put forward but already the opponents are lining up.
Listen, I was a political activist at least two years before I got involved with the trade unions and I consider those two years wasted without that commitment alongside them.
Because the best people I met in politics were working in, or with, the unions and so when refs raise concern about issues like health and safety I take notice, even if I suspect I know what they are referring to. I take seriously people talking about “basic worker status” and wanting all the rights that go with employment in the modern age, or which should go with it anyway.
And let’s be fair, we all know that the Scottish football’s governing bodies have often had a shocking record on employment law as Neil Doncaster’s abysmal display before the Scottish Parliament in 2017 made clear.
Referees claiming to be mistreated by their Hampden bosses really doesn’t surprise me one bit, but exactly what that has to do with the issues we’re talking about I really don’t know and for the referee’s union to conflate the two is pretty poor.
“If there is substance to today’s media reports that the Scottish Football Association are in talks with clubs about introducing overseas based officials, it’s another appalling development,” the announcement said, which means they are already rejecting, completely, Celtic’s assertion that this idea will remove some of the pressure from them.
“At present the association continues to refuse to afford referees basic worker status as they carry out their vital duties. The SFA has refused to respond to our calls to address serious health and safety concerns in recent months and this is another potentially serious development.”
Which, as I said, I sympathise with.
And if the SFA is ignoring their calls to improve in these areas then obviously that is completely unacceptable.
But the bit of the statement in between those two paragraphs is the only bit that really matters to this debate.
“Everyone involved agrees that the professionalism and standards in many areas of Scottish football needs to be driven up,” it says, and then simply leaves that hanging there as if it’s nothing instead of being the central crux of this whole argument.
We’ve had an entire season of refereeing incompetence; how much longer is this supposed to go on?
This idea that not enough “protection” is give to referees is just absurd, I’m sorry to say.
They are the most insulated people in the whole of the sport. That so many folk in the media and across the game are already leaping to their defence, in spite of months of dire decisions and endless complaints about their performances, proves it hands down.
This is the union using its internal battle with the SFA as yet another smokescreen to hide behind.
This statement in no way addresses, in any reasonable manner, what Celtic has put on the table.
Of course Scottish refs won’t entirely like it if officials are brought in from elsewhere, because that would suggest that we don’t think they are up to snuff, but I don’t entirely care how they feel about that because in fact very few people do think they are up to snuff, and admit it freely.
This is just another way of them trying to keep their wee bubble intact.
Celtic cannot back down here; there’s a proposal on the table and we need to aggressively make our case.
Anything else would set us back, and the game with it.
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