Graeme Murty: Scottish referees need to go full-time if standards are to improve

Rangers boss Graeme Murty believes Scottish referees need to go full-time if the standard of their officiating is to improve.

The performances of whistlers north of the border has come into sharp focus once again following Neil Lennon’s furious bust-up with Kevin Clancy on Saturday.

The Hibernian boss was sent to the stand after angrily remonstrating with the official following his decision to hand Kilmarnock a disputed penalty during the 2-2 draw at Rugby Park.

Unlike Premier League referees in England, who earn up to £70,000 a year on full professional contracts, Scottish officials currently work as self-employed contractors who are paid on a game-by-game basis.

But Murty says the only way to drive up their displays is to copy the lead taken by top-flight chiefs down south and invest in the men in black.

“Until we have a professional core of referees in Scotland, who are training every day with financial backing commensurate to the task, they will find it difficult to reach the standards of the Premier League in England,” said the Ibrox boss.

“That’s nothing to do with their own desires or their wants – it’s to do with the reality of being professional and getting paid to do a job.

“It’s exactly the same as professional footballers playing at the top level with all the facilities behind him as opposed to a part-time footballer having to do a day job then going to play on the weekend.

“Unless we get to that level we will continue having this conversation.”

Lennon’s temper boiled over as he confronted Clancy following his decision to penalise Leith defender Ryan Porteous for handball.

He sarcastically applauded the official before being led away by security officials.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers admits he can sympathise with his compatriot following a “catalogue” of calls which have gone against the Easter Road side.

The Northern Irishman said: “I have seen a lot of strange decisions. The guys are doing the very best they can, but some of it I can totally understand where Neil would come from.

“(Lennon’s reaction) was something that is (in the) heat of the moment.

“He has obviously seen something clearly and for Neil it has probably been tagged on to one or two other incidents that has cost his team.

“It is understandable that frustration will come out at times. Sometimes, in the games, for managers and coaches, it can be so blatant, maybe not for referees.

“But if it continually happens it can be very concerning for you and of course that was his reaction because there was probably a catalogue of incidents for him.

“We have to try to somehow help the referees and improve the standards of everything. That is the job of managers and clubs, whether it is football pitches, officiating, club structures, it is to improve standards.

“Every manager and coach is the same. There is a rage inside you and some can maybe control it a wee bit better than others. But it is very, very difficult in that, at that moment, I have been fortunate.

“I have stood on the touchline for thousands of youth games and senior games but it is still always a challenge when something goes against you.”

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