The criticism referees have been given of late in Scottish football has been shocking.
I’ve the utmost sympathy for them even the greatest official in the world makes mistakes.
It must be difficult to go through 90 minutes and not get something wrong. The tempo of the game is frenetic – blink and you miss it. And unfortunately sometimes they do.
But I really do think it’s one of the hardest jobs there is and you don’t realise that until you try it yourself.
So that is exactly what we did.
I listened to my old mate Ewen Cameron criticise referees religiously so I put it to him that he couldn’t do any better and challenged him to officiate a game himself.
Except this wasn’t any old Sunday league game, this was the epitome of being thrown into the Lion’s den, this was a match between prisoners at Barlinnie – the toughest jail in Glasgow.
A prison officer I knew had arranged a game. There were some heavy guys in there believe me. I was on the sidelines and told the convicts to surround Ewen after the first decision he made – he was panicking. It was hilarious.
All the inmates were watching the game. There must have been around 1,000 spectators.
He was giving decisions that were just unbelievable. He nearly caused a riot! It was a good laugh but it just showed him how hard it was.
The criticism they receive is unfair. It’s a difficult job. Every decision they make is under intense scrutiny.
We can all sit and watch it in the house with the remote control and review the incident as many times and from as many different angles as we want and then sometimes we’re still none the wiser!
The referees though have to make that instant decision as it happened and don’t have the various different angles to look at which the pundits do.
That’s why I can’t understand why they don’t bring in TV evidence. It absolutely baffles me. Refereeing mistakes could be almost be eradicated by having an official in the stands communicating with the ref on the park.
There has to be guidelines. We need to sit down and decide the parameters of where the TV evidence would be introduced. What’s worthy of looking that.
Let’s stop the game for these major decisions which happen in and around the box they would be cleared up in a matter of minutes.
Surely the refs need all the help they can get. We’ve seen it in another sports being applied effectively so why not football?