Exchanges with The BBC.



To: Mr Xxxxx

Date : 03 December 2010 13:03

Dear Mr Xxxxx

Thank you for your comments, which were forwarded to the Editor of Sportsound, who has asked that we forward his response as follows:

“The impact of the referees’ strike fell on clubs in the Scottish Football League whose matches were postponed. The biggest SFL match over the weekend was Cowdenbeath v Dunfermline and the home side lost most, financially. We interviewed the chairman of the club. He said he was against the strike and had lost sympathy for referees. He also said he thought the behaviour of some clubs was unacceptable.

The Israeli Football Association spokesman noted that the IFA had decided to send two teams to Scotland to referee matches. He said on air he did not know why we had a shortage. We told him and asked him his opinion.

John McKendrick was the first Scottish referee to publicly speak on the subject of their protest. We put a number of points from listeners to him, including asking his view of the incident at Tannadice.

In my opinion, we covered all of these stories well, interviewing the main people involved in the story and providing new information to our audience.

Details of the BBC’s complaints processes are available online at

Thank you for taking the time to contact the BBC with your views.”

Kind Regards

BBC Audience Services

My reply

From: Mr Xxxxx


Date 3 December 2010

I did not hear the interviewer ask the Israeli referee representative his opinions, what I heard was the interviewer Mr Young encourage him not to come to Scotland.

My reaction on listening was that had I been the SFA CEO I would have been on the phone asking what the interviewer was trying to do. That was the main cause of my complaint and it has not been addressed.

I am surprised no independent view was taking here, which was the reason I complained to the BBC Trust, I mean the Sportsound Editor would only defend his team anyway.

Therefore I will re-register my complaint through the BBC Trust but ask that the complaint be properly investigated by an independent party.

Mr Xxxxxxx

The BBC Reply


To: Mr Xxxx

Date 21 December 2010

Dear Mr Xxxxxx

Reference CAS-447731

Thanks for your further contact regarding the Radio Scotland programme, ‘Sportsound’.

Your comments were passed to the Editor, who is sorry to hear that you felt his response was unsatisfactory. Whilst he appreciates you continue to have concerns with this particular issue, he has nothing to add to his previous correspondence with you.

Should you wish to pursue this complaint further, you can contact the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit, within 20 working days, and they will carry out an independent investigation.
You can write to them at the following address:

Editorial Complaints Unit
Room 5170
White City

And so I did.


From: Mr Xxxxx

Date: 31 December 2010 00:01

Dear Sir

My name is Xxxxxx of 99 Yyyyyyyyy,  Zzzzzzzz

I am writing to you by e mail in a follow up to my original complaint of 25th November and how my complaint about how that complaint was handled, to ask that someone independent of the parties involved listen to and reply to the cause of my original complaint of 25th November.

Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the original complaint which was made via a web form, but it will be traceable through the complaints reference numbering. Briefly it was that the BBC representative on the Sportsound programme overstepped the impartiality boundaries when interviewing a representative of the Israeli Refereeing Fraternity and far from informing him (or more accurately not informing him fully) of events behind the strike, he actually was encouraging him not to send Israeli referees to help the SPL meet its obligations to supporters. When I heard it my reaction was that had I been Mr Doncaster CEO of the SPL or Mr Regan CEO of the SFA trying to deal with the situation, I would have been looking for the interviewer’s head on a plate.

That is not the purpose of my complaint. My purpose is to get BBC Sportsound to listen to how it covered the whole event:

The lack of investigative journalism into what the referees were complaining about,

Whether their complaints stood up to examination and

Required the action taken by referees,

What exactly the referees hoped to achieve by their action and

If there was any linkage between the strike and the threat to Mr Dallas’s position at the SFA as a result of an offensive email about the Pope that he sent for which he has since been sacked.

None of this took place and there is still a story to be told and in not doing their job properly BBC Scotland, for whatever reason, did not inform the public debate as even handed as it should have. The interviewer’s exchanges with the Israeli representative being the manifestation of the failure, and not the failure itself.

I do not know the interviewer personally but I like what I do know of him, I just think that on this occasion he let his professionalism be overruled by other considerations, but as I said his behaviour was symptomatic of the over all tone of BBC Sport Scotland reporting of the events of that week and some honest introspection, aided by external facilitation, which is why I have written to you, would be of benefit to all concerned.

Mr Xxxxx

The ECU replied as follows:

White City 201 Wood Lane London WI1 m

Telephone 020 32743 8000 Email

Editorial Complaints Unit

To : Mr X XxXXX

I6 Februarv 2011

Dear Mr XxXxx

Sportsound. Radio Scotland. 22 November 2010

I have now finished looking into your complaint about this programme. I am sorry that you were not happy with the response you received when you first raised this with the BBC but I hope that I can address your concerns here.

I have now listened to the programme and studied a transcript of it. I have also reviewed the earlier correspondence. As I said in my earlier letter, I have considered your complaint against the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on impartiality.

The programme was discussing the issue of the referees’ strike in Scotland and, in particular, plans to engage the services of Israeli referees to stand in for striking Scottish referees that weekend. Your complaint focused upon that part of the programme where Yariv Teper, CEO of the National Referee Union of Israel, was interviewed.

I have attached a transcript of the relevant part of the programme in hope it is useful in clarifying how I have come to my decision.

I think you will see from the transcript that the line of questioning from Kenny Mcintyre and Chick Young is roughly as follows: Mr Teper was first asked to outline how the Israeli referees had become involved; then he was asked if Israeli referees had been compelled to officiate at Scottish matches; then, if the Israeli Referee Union were aware or what the strike was about and whether they had any sympathy with the Scottish referees.

When it became clear that Mr Teper was not familiar with the issues at stake, he was asked if this was because the SFA had not told him but he replied, surprisingly perhaps, that it was because he had not seen fit to enquire. He had simply agreed to help another association without enquiring as to the source of their difficulties. Chick Young then asked him: “Are you interested in knowing why the referees in this country  are going on strike?” When Mr Teper said “Can you give me the reasons why?’ John McKendrick. a leading Scottish referee was introduced and invited to (explain the causes of the strike, which he did, I thought, in a calm and measured way. Then, Mr Teper was invited to say whether his organisation’s thinking might have been different had they known earlier what issues were involved. He said it might have made a difference.

I have to say that I do not find this particular line of questioning at all exceptionable. Given the responses from Mr Teper, the follow-up questions are, on the whole, entirely what you would expect an interviewer to put to

him. Nowhere did I feel that a question was being pressed to the point where it might be said that Mr Teper was being put under pressure to reconsider his organisation’s decision.

I should add that I do accept that something might be conveyed in the tone in which questions are put which is not necessarily reflected in the words as they appear on the page. So I have listened carefully to the programme a number of time with that in mind but I have to say, I do not detect anything in the manner of the interview which conveys a sense of Mr Teper being put under pressure to change the policy of his association. On the contrary, I think the words used to conclude the interview with him convey exactly the opposite impression:

John McKendrick
Well Yariv that’s a very kind offer. I’m sure the SFA would certainly consider that one. Can I just wish all your boys all the very best this weekend. I hope that Scotland treats them well and you enjoy the matches in Scotland. Good luck Yariv, thank you.

Kenny Macintyre
Yeah thanks for joining us Yariv, That’s Yariv Teper; he’s head of the Referees Association in Israel.

Overall. I have to say that I don’t think this interview did anything which risked falling seriously foul of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and I am afraid that I do not feel therefore that I have grounds for upholding your complaint.

Even so, I do hope I have been able to go at least some way to addressing your concerns. If you are dissatisfied with my finding, however, I would be happy to consider any additional points you might wish to make. Please let me have any comments within ten working days of this letter. It is also open to you to appeal to the Editorial Standards Committee of the SBC Trust. Correspondence for the Committee should be addressed to its Secretary, Michael Fadda, at the BBC Trust Unit, 180 Great Portland Street. London WI W 5QZ or by email to The Trust normally expects to receive an appeal within four weeks of the date of this letter or of any subsequent correspondence between us.

Thank you for writing to us and giving me the opportunity to investigate your concerns.

Yours sincerely



The Sportsound transcript follows:








Kenny MacIntyre

Welcome to Sportsound with me, Kenny MacIntyre, and what’s been a dramatic day in Scottish football.  Foreign referees will take charge of a full SPL card this weekend but the lower league fixtures have been hit very hard.  We’ll hear from the chairman of a couple of clubs who are seriously concerned at the impact on their finances.  We’ll hear from all the main players and we’ll be joined live in the studio by Grade 1 Referee John McKendrick.  He was the fourth official in the game that kicked all this off at Tannadice.  And later in the programme Jim Spence will be here with Beyond the SPL.  All coming up on a very Sportsound between now and 8 o’clock.




The biggest games, breaking news and exclusive interviews, Sportsound… on BBC Radio Scotland.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yes we’ve got a very, very busy programme for you this evening on a dramatic day for Scottish football.  A variety of guests will be joining us.  Chick Young is with me in the studio.  Chick how would you describe this day in Scottish football?  You’ve been covering events for many years now.



Chick Young

There has been an explosion in the game today, as simple as that.  Let me paint the picture as we stand.  All the matches in the Clydesdale Premier League will go ahead as will the Alba Challenge Cup Final on Sunday.  The three Scottish Cup replays and Morton against Falkirk in the IrnBru First Division tomorrow, that game was determined to go ahead by the, would you believe, the drawing of lots by the Scottish Football League.  Referees have offered their services, they will be either FIFA approved or will have achieved Category 1 status in their respective countries.  The situation at the moment as I understand it is that there will be referees coming in from as far a field as Poland, Portugal and Israel.  There will be required 28 match officials to handle, a minimum of that, to handle the games that go ahead tomorrow and on Sunday, indeed some may double up.  Now it’s an incredible situation.  What you’re about to hear over the next hour or so has been seldom matched in my forty plus years being a sports journalist.  I remember the day that Mo Johnston signed for Rangers, that was certainly up there but listen my friends our game is heading for meltdown.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yeah very, very important issues to get through and a very busy programme for you this evening.  Just to tell you that the Grade 1 Official, John McKendrick, he’s on his way into this studio.  He was fourth official in that game at Tannadice.  It really kicked off all this action so we’ll hear from him live on Sportsound later in the programme.  Let’s kick off with two of the main players here, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Premier League, Neil Doncaster to come, but first up the Chief Exec of the Scottish Football Association, Stewart Regan.



Stewart Regan

Having received notification at midnight last night that the strike action for this weekend would go ahead, we’ve been working tirelessly at Hampden Park this morning.  I’m delighted with the progress made by my team up on the sixth floor and we have secured the services of a number of officials from across the UEFA Associations and we can confirm that all Scottish Premier League matches will be officiated this weekend, plus the Alba Cup Final.  Those officials will be FIFA listed, they will also be Category 1 referees from their home countries, so these are proper qualified referees and fans and clubs can have no concerns that they’re getting anything other than the very best.  I’m very disappointed with where we ended up, I felt we’d made substantial progress up to, you know, early evening last night, at which point there was a proposal on the table that they felt they could take away and present to the Category 1 referees.   That talked about a series of measures being put to our AGM in June, protecting referees with measures against any players or managers who spoke about referees in the build up to a match.  In addition we said we’d take a much more tougher stance on any club official or player who abused referees or in particular brought their integrity into question.  Both the President of the SFA, George Pete, and myself gave unequivocal support to the Category 1 referees and it was therefore disappointing that they felt there hadn’t been enough progress to call off the strike this weekend, or indeed even to suspend it.  They have committed to going back to work next weekend, for which we’re grateful, but at this stage it’s about covering the fixtures this weekend for the benefit of fans, clubs, media partners and sponsors.



Neil Doncaster

I think it’s firstly important to stress the amount of work that went in over the last few days to try and avoid the action by referees, to try to get them to call off the strike.  But unfortunately despite all of our efforts that’s not been successful and the referees have decided they wish to go ahead with their action this weekend, and in those circumstances, we have an obligation to make sure that games go ahead.  Obligations to supporters, to clubs, obviously to the media and we need to make sure that the show goes on.  In those circumstances, we’re delighted that the SFA under Stewart Regan, have been able to source match officials from around Europe to ensure that every single SPL game this weekend will go ahead.  Just for the SFA to provide us with referees that are suitably qualified, we’ve been given assurances that all of them will be FIFA listed or Category 1 referees in their own countries and ultimately that should give us comfort that they will be up to the job this weekend.  We were asking referees what it will take to avoid the strike taking place and we weren’t getting any answers back so ultimately for the referees to tell us what it is they’re looking for and for us to try and deliver it if we can.  But you know whilst we have sympathy for the referees and the situation that they find themselves in, it cannot be right simply to walk away from the game and leave it in the lurch.



Kenny MacIntyre

The Chief Executive of the SPL, Neil Doncaster, there.  Before him the Chief Exec of the SFA, Stewart Regan.  Chick how do you feel the governing bodies have handled this whole situation?



Chick Young

Absolutely disgracefully.  I cannot believe that Neil Doncaster says they don’t know what they’re asking for.  They’ve already made pledges I believe, the SFA on behalf of the players who know nothing of this, there’s anger all around the place, particularly from the referees, I think they’re quite right.  They kept asking them to reconsider.  They were never gonna reconsider, we told them that all down the line.  It remains to be seen and you know that maybe the irony will be Kenny, these people will come in from foreign countries and not to particularly good matches and the fixtures over the weekend, and then [UNSURE OF WORDS], the refereeing in this country.  They have procrastinated, they still don’t seem to understand what the problems are and really I don’t think this is addressing the issue.  This is a stop gap measure with all fixtures going ahead, which is probably a good thing.  The other thing I think you’ll find out is that a cry of protest from the SFL clubs who have seen fixtures of Scottish Cup matches, that they would regard to be minor to the SFL ties, going ahead instead of Scottish League fixtures, particularly games like the Cowdenbeath versus the Dunfermline Derby match; we’ll be hearing from Donald Findlay, the Chairman of Cowdenbeath, very shortly and they will ask why a Polish referee has been brought in to handle Beath against Airdrie when they think their game should have priority.  As I said at the top of the programme, the Morton game against Falkirk has been pulled out of the hat…



Kenny MacIntyre




Chick Young

… pulled out of the hat and maybe in retrospect would be one of the fixtures you want to go ahead.  But is that entirely fair?  People have no idea how serious this situation is.  This game of ours that we all love, is sitting on the precipice and that will be underlined in the people we’ll talk to in the next hour or so for this extended version of Sportsound tonight.  I think we are short of leadership.  I’m fed up going on about it saying that there are three bodies administrating the game in this country when we should have one.



Kenny MacIntyre

Neil Doncaster is saying though, you know, that the SFA have done a great job.



Chick Young

The SFA are contracted to supply referees to the SPL.  The SPL pay the SFA for referees.  How bizarre is this?  We are not different sports.  There’s one sport in this country, it’s football, why have we got an SPL, an SFA, an SFL, the SGFA, need I go on, the teaching of football like a different sport.  If ever it was highlighted it’s what happening here.  One body, one strong man at the top of this guiding us forward, an Ernie Walker figure dare I say from the days gone by, although I had my run-ins with dear Ernie over the years, a figure who could take a grip of the game and move it on and salt this dreadful mess.  We have treated our clubs shockingly, we have treated the supporters shockingly and I cannot believe that football is staring into the abyss and believe me it is.



Kenny MacIntyre

Well we’ll get more of an indication of that now Chick.  As you say the lower leagues hit very hard, just the Morton/Falkirk game going ahead on Saturday, they drew a lot out there to decide which game got the referee available.



Chick Young

(Talking Over)  But was it a long straw or was it the last straw?



Kenny MacIntyre

Well we shall find out.  We’re joined on line now by two club chairmen, Donald Findlay, Chairman of Cowdenbeath and Lachlan Cameron, Chairman of Ayr United.  Thanks to you both for joining us on Sportsound.  Good evening to you.  Donald it was a huge game for you to look ahead to at the weekend.  A Fife Derby and I’m sure a very lucrative fixture that’s now not going to go ahead.



Donald Findlay

Absolutely it was our biggest game of the season.  It was a game that we relied upon very heavily to keep the club going and it is a real blow and I’m extremely angered by this whole sorry mess.



Kenny MacIntyre

Scottish Football League have been contacting the clubs we believe today to explain the situation Donald.  What were you told?



Donald Findlay

Well I wasn’t told directly but what I understand from my club secretary is that there was a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing and ultimately with one set of officials left we went into a ballot and we were unsuccessful.  So our game is (unsure of word) put off.



Kenny MacIntyre

What damage could this do to a club the size of Cowdenbeath?



Donald Findlay

Well I’m not saying it’s going to be terminal because I won’t let that happen but it’s going to be a major financial blow.  The game will now be played midweek, the crowd will be down, we have the largest ever corporate facility ongoing this weekend, we’re going to have to return all that money and this is all because of a squabble that has got nothing whatsoever to do with the first division or Cowdenbeath in particular.



Kenny MacIntyre

Lachlan Cameron is Chairman of Ayr United.  Your game has also been hit this weekend, what are your feelings on that?



Lachlan Cameron

Well it’s obviously very distressing.  I mean you know here we are coming into November, now at the end of November into December and last year we had the weather calling off all kinds of games and it’s predicted to be about the same this year and so we could really do without this.  You know postponing games, having to play midweek, losing all the hospitality.  You know the programmes are printed, the pies are ordered and that’s money down the drain.



Kenny MacIntyre

What’s your opinion Lachlan on how this whole affair has been handled by the authorities in Scottish football?



Lachlan Cameron

Well as Chick said, you know, there’s three bodies running football and there’s a lot of crossover between the two and it gets very confusing on who handles what and at the end of the day, you know, I think the SFL clubs are suffering more than most because of the way the situation’s been handled.



Chick Young

Lachlan I know you’re calling us from America and it’s Thanksgiving Day over there, we haven’t got many thanks to give for Scottish football in this country at the moment, and I also know that you sit on the SFA boards.  I mean do you have sympathy for the referees?



Lachlan Cameron

I do have sympathy for the referees, I mean they have a tough job and they’re under a lot of scrutiny but you know the way this is being handled, there was no forewarning of this happening and it’s all seemed to come about because of you know incident at the top level of the game.  But the SPL have games going on this weekend and the SFL don’t and we don’t have the finances to handle situations like this, I mean cash flow is everything to us and losing out on a home game needlessly is, you know, possibly detrimental to, you know, not only our future but the future of other clubs in the SFL.



Chick Young

Donald that’s what I’ve been trying to underline, you know, how serious this issue really is.  When you hear that the Scottish Cup replays for example, Beath and Airdrie, are being supplied with the referees in preference to your own game how do you feel?



Donald Findlay

I mean I’m incensed by the whole thing.  I’m absolutely delighted that the Premier League are getting their games to go on, after all it’s their squabble, why should they suffer in any way at all?  Let the likes of Cowdenbeath suffer.  I like a moan about the referees the same as every other football fan, but I do not believe that officials of clubs should be commenting on the referees publicly and I’ve always supported the referees.  But now I have no sympathy for them because they have got their part to play in this.  This is not the way to do it.  What they are doing in effect is punishing Cowdenbeath, so any support they might have had from me they can go and look elsewhere now.



Chick Young

Do you think, I mean to be fair they could have called the strike like today and nothing would have been done, they would never have salvaged the situation by bringing referees in from abroad.  Do you not have sympathy from the fact that this is a cry for help which was registered last Sunday thereby giving the SFA time to get referees?



Donald Findlay

It is a problem and I can understand the problem the referees perceive that they have, and I never thought I’d agree with you Chick, but I do agree with what you were saying earlier on and that is that there’s far too many people running Scottish football.  The only comment I would make is I don’t think anybody’s running Scottish football, I think that’s the problem.  And somebody should be in charge, sit down with the referees, get this sorted out and have a word with the people who have caused this problem.  That was the way to deal with it.  But you’ve got endless committees, endless organisations, far too many vested interests.  Well as Chairman of Cowdenbeath I now know, very clearly, what the attitude of the authorities in Scottish Football is to my club and I will not be unforgiving on that, and I’ll be sitting down over the weekend to see what I can do about getting compensation from somebody for Cowdenbeath Football Club.



Chick Young

Some people might say Donald your attitude might have been different had you still been the Vice Chairman of Rangers.



Donald Findlay

I would not like to think that Rangers Football Club back then would have got involved in this, this is something that if it was a problem would have been sorted out privately where it should have been, not in the public gaze like this.  And it’s one thing to have a moan about a referee, but I repeat I do not believe an official of a Scottish club at board level should be coming out and criticising referees.  That’s the football side of the game Chick.  If a manager wants to say something about a referee he should do so and do it reasonably and courteously.  And that’s what somebody like Jimmy Nicol would do and if Jimmy went over the top, I would have a word with him privately, I don’t think he would but that’s how I would deal with it.  Not in this way, this is absolutely threatening to destroy Scottish football and it’s in enough trouble as we all know.



Chick Young

Lachlan I’m guessing that in America where you are, as I said earlier, that they couldn’t conceive to run a sport the way we run our national game.



Lachlan Cameron

No I mean you know over here, depending on what league you’re talking about, you know, you take the NSL for instance, you know the owners make decisions on the direction that the league’s going to take and so it’s basically one body and, you know, it’s not flawless but it seems to work out a lot better than the system we have just now.



Chick Young

Can I ask both of you, Lachlan first of all, in terms of this game being off on Saturday, the home game for you, what does this mean?  Cos I presume when you run a club like Ayr United or Cowdenbeath it’s day by day, week to week.  What does this mean?  What is the impact in terms of paying wages, running the club, paying all the bills that you have to pay?  I mean how severe is this?  Can you put it into terms?



Lachlan Cameron

Well we don’t have the luxury of you know massive sponsorship or TV money that filters down to other clubs, so you know we pay our wages based on the money we get from, you know, the home games.  And going a stretch without a home game, you know, makes it very, very difficult to pay the wages.  And you know if it came to the situation where we couldn’t pay the wages, there’ll be very little sympathy for us as a club from the players or from the governing body.  We’re expected to be able to pay these wages but we do that based on forecasts of gate income from the home games.



Chick Young

Donald you’re an angry man obviously, this is potentially, I know you say you wouldn’t it to happen, but it is potentially a nail in the coffin of clubs like Cowdenbeath.



Donald Findlay

It would not be an exaggeration Chick to say it could be.  Like Lachlan we survive on what comes in through the gate and what the volunteers who run the club can raise by way of corporate and other sponsorship.  We certainly exist month to month and we rely on and we budget for a game like this and for this game to be taken away from us is a real blow and it’s gonna have to require a lot of  hard thinking at the financial level.  And it’s not impossible to see that this kind of behaviour could put a club like Cowdenbeath in an almost fatal financial position, especially if we lose revenue over a winter shutdown because of the bad weather.  Somebody should be able to do something about this.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yes just finally on that to you both, I’ll start with yourself Donald, what would your message be to the football authorities in Scotland?



Donald Findlay

My message is that they have made a complete mess of this, they ought to be ashamed of themselves, that they clearly have no interest at all in the whole of Scottish football, they’ve demonstrated they have no actual interest in Cowdenbeath and clubs like us and it’s time there was a real shake-up and somebody got a grip of this, who knew what they were doing and knew how to run Scottish football for the benefit of the clubs, the players and the supporters.



Kenny MacIntyre

And from yourself Lachlan?



Lachlan Cameron

Well I would say that, you know, I don’t know that the authorities have no interest in the game, I just think that because of the way it’s set up it makes it very difficult for there to be any one body that makes a decision, which is what makes this so difficult.



Kenny MacIntyre

Well thank you very much indeed to both of you for joining us on Sportsound.  Strong words there from Donald Findlay, Chairman of Cowdenbeath FC and Lachlan Cameron, Chairman of Ayr United.  Just as it has done for the past couple of weeks Chick, it’s generated a huge response on the texts and the e-mails.  David in Clarkston, I agree fully with Chick about three bodies too many, however what if SFL had been snowed or frozen off, would that also have been the end of the world.  The pomposity and arrogance of Doncaster is unbelievable.  To say he doesn’t know what the problems are is insulting, according to another text.  Stephen in Edinburgh says why don’t the SFL put out a plea for refs?  My pal at work’s a qualified grade one ref not currently working and I’m sure there are more like him, says Steve in Edinburgh.



Chick Young

Yeah I’ve been talking to (unsure of word) in Scottish football today and as I understand it, although they said there was a united front with all the referees, I believe there were one or two referees in the country who might have been willing to take charge of games, whether they were qualified to take games at level is another story but I was told by one club official that yeah possibly there might be one or two Scottish referees.  But we’re told and I reiterate if you’re just joining the programme, that the Premier Leagues games over the weekend plus one game in the SFL, that will be the Morton versus Falkirk match, plus the Scottish Cup Replays, plus the Alba Cup Final on Sunday, they will all go ahead, all other games are off.  And the games that I’ve mentioned that are on will be taken charge of by European referees, although we’re hearing tonight…



Kenny MacIntyre

(Talking over each other)  Yeah well just on that Chick… just news on that the Polish FA have confirmed on their website, they are going to send three sets of four man teams to officiate in Scottish matches and also as you say Chick, a story we broke this afternoon that Israeli officials will take charge of games.  We’re joined on the line now by Yariv Teper and he’s head of the Referees Association in Italy.  Thanks for joining us on Sportsound Yariv.  Just tell us the process of the last couple of days.  How the SFA got in touch.  What happened thereafter?



Yariv Teper

They got in touch with me this morning and I’ve been told that there is some problems with Scottish referees, that they are about to strike or something like that and we’ve been asked to give some help with teams of referees.



Kenny MacIntyre

Do you insist on your referees taking part or do you put that out to the referees and give them the decision if they want to officiate in Scotland?



Yariv Teper

If I ask them if they want to officiate in Scotland?



Kenny MacIntyre

Yeah do you give your referees the choice whether or not they want to do this?



Yariv Teper

Yes, yes.  It’s not compulsory to go abroad and especially to games out of the country.  We ask them and they give their permission so we sent them.



Chick Young

Did you think to ask why the referees in Scotland were on strike?  Did your referees have any sympathy with them?



Yariv Teper

Honestly we don’t know exactly what are the reasons of this strike, as I told you before, at the morning we got the call from the Scottish Association and as we always do with friendly association, we always give a hand when we can.  So we didn’t have so many time to go into details what are the reasons of the strike.



Kenny MacIntyre

So the Scottish Football Association chose not to explain to you why the referees in this country have gone on strike?



Yariv Teper

Honestly we didn’t ask so, you know, I cannot tell that they didn’t tell us.  We got the application for teams of referees and immediately we gave a positive answer.



Chick Young

Well Yariv just to give you some idea, we’ve spoken to a number of referee associations throughout Europe over the past few days, you know for example the referees in Iceland were asked if they would officiate, when they heard the complaints that the Scottish referees had they said there would be absolutely no way they would travel over to Scotland.  They felt it would be doing a disservice to their Scottish footballing colleagues, their refereeing colleagues.



Yariv Teper

Um huh.  I tell you what, from what we’ve heard a couple of other European associations sent referees to Scotland so we didn’t find it is something that they are not appropriate because, as I told you, we don’t know exactly, until now, what are the reasons of this strike and as we did before when we’ve been asked from the Cyprus Association to send referees, we send, and from the Romanian Association, we always give help when we can.  So we don’t know exactly what is the reason of this strike and why we’ve been asked to send some referees but we always give positive answers for these applications.



Chick Young

As I understand it, the Israeli season is still playing games at the moment in your top league aren’t you?



Yariv Teper




Chick Young

So these guys will not be involved in fixtures?  The guys you’re sending to Scotland, are they lower graded referees that are not involved in your top fixtures at the weekend?



Yariv Teper

Two of them were not supposed to referee this weekend and only one of them, you know the fourth official, and I’ve heard that now the Scottish Association don’t need a fourth official so two of the referees they were not supposed to have a game this weekend.



Chick Young

So I mean are you interested in knowing why the referees in this country are going on strike?



Yariv Teper

Can you give me the reasons why?



Kenny MacIntyre

Just stay with us Chick because just entering the studio is grade one official John McKendrick.



Chick Young

We have a referee here, one of the guys who’s going on strike at the weekend.  Basically as he gets himself into position, the problems are that they feel they’ve been over criticised, there’s been a lot of pressure on them from the managers, coaches, in this country, from people who run clubs and they think the criticism of what they have done has been excessive.  I’m joined now by John McKendrick who is one of our leading referees in this country, one of our leading officials, and John I’ve paraphrased I think what your problems are, you’re speaking to a representative who is sending referees from Israel who will officiate at some of the games at the weekend, maybe you’d like to try and expand on what I’ve just said about the grievances of why the guys are striking this weekend.



John McKendrick

First of all good evening to our colleague from Israel.



Yariv Teper

Good evening.



John McKendrick

Our concern is to do with integrity.  We feel that in Scotland over a sustained length of time and particularly in the last few weeks, the last month or so, the pressure, the criticism of referees has reached an intolerable level, it’s even moved beyond what we would consider to be fairly standard and fair criticism as regards decisions in points of play.  It’s now getting to the stage where our integrity has been questioned, it’s going beyond that, it’s getting to the stage where our referees, their personal and their professional lives have been affected, and basically it just reached a tipping point where the unanimous opinion of our body of 31 referees, who gathered together last Sunday, was that enough was enough, that we had, for the greater good of the game in Scotland, we had to make a statement here so that we can reorient, we can take stock and we can move forward for a far more progressive, productive and enjoyable atmosphere for football in Scotland.



Chick Young

So in short, people called it a strike but I think John it’s more of a protest.  I have called it a plea for help over the week.  My friend in Israel does that affect your thinking?



Yariv Teper

I think most of the referees and the Referees Association all over the world are sharing the same problems in everywhere and now when I listen to what my colleague is explaining, it put it in a different light.  What I’m suggesting is that, you know, it’s something that is not reversible now because the referees are flying there…



Chick Young

(Talking over)  Yariv let’s find out then, if you had known what you’ve just heard from the Scottish referees, would that have affected your decision to come over and officiate games in Scotland this weekend?



Yariv Teper

I think we would have discussed this issue among the professional (unsure of word) and reached the decision because we need to know more about what are the reasons and I think we would have a discussion and then reach a decision.  Maybe the decision was not the same as we reach now.



Chick Young

I know the SFA listen to this programme and I’m sure they’ll be delighted to come on and let’s hear their side of the story as to why they didn’t explain to people in Israel, and we can only assume they were trying to source other referees in other countries Kenny who will come.  We know that I think it’s a Polish team of refs going to do the game at Beath against Ayr, do the Scottish Cup Replay, and we’ll try and find out from other associations but I think explanation and it’s good to talk, it might be good to explain as to why you’ve being the gig in the first place.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yeah just finally from yourself Yariv, the officials that are coming over are they expected to take charge of games on the Saturday and the Sunday?



Yariv Teper

We have not been told exactly what are the games.  We’ve been told that they can not tell us exactly what are the games now.   So we don’t know exactly what are the games but we’ve heard that it will be on Saturday or on Sunday.



Chick Young

Right just tell them to wish all the boys good luck… cos I think they’ll need it.



Yariv Teper

Thank you and also good luck with your protests and strike and hope the atmosphere will change in Scotland matches.  What I suggest is, because I don’t feel so good now after what I’ve heard, so I’m inviting two of the Scottish referee teams to Israel, you know kind to delegate and so you are more than welcome to come and to be a referee in one or two of our top league matches in Israel.



Chick Young

There you are John a bit of training.  We could get you over there now, you’re not busy this weekend.



John McKendrick

That’s a very kind offer Yariv.



Yariv Teper

So I think it is the first stage to swap some referees across the country.



John McKendrick

Well Yariv that’s a very kind offer, I’m sure the SFA would certainly consider that one.  Can I just wish all your boys all the very best this weekend.  I hope that Scotland treats them well and you enjoy the matches in Scotland.  Good luck Yariv, thank you.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yeah thanks for joining us Yariv.  That’s Yariv Teper, he’s head of the Referees Association in Israel.



Chick Young

Well Kenny we’ve got the solution; every weekend our guys go to Italy or Denmark, we just shuffle the referees…



John McKendrick

We’ll still not be happy.



Kenny MacIntyre

John do you feel, for example, as I was saying to Yariv Teper there, we spoke to referees from all over Europe, for example we spoke to a referee from Iceland who said that when he heard the problems that you have, you face in Scottish football, they would not come over.  They felt it was like crossing a picket line.



John McKendrick




Kenny MacIntyre

Do you feel let down when you hear that other referees are coming over?



John McKendrick

No I don’t think you can feel let down.  If you listen to Yariv, Yariv wasn’t fully availed of the facts there so I think it’s unfair to be critical.  I think what we certainly do feel as a collective body is completely overwhelmed by the support we’ve had by fellow referees throughout Europe.  It really has been quite astonishing.  The strength of the support and their encouragement for us to stand up for the good of the game in Scotland and that support of course cascades down as well.  It is the category one referees who have taken this decision, the category two referees for example came out instantly and gave us unanimous support as well.  So this is not just something that’s a small group of mavericks in Scottish refereeing who are making a point for self interest here.  This goes root and branch to senior football in Scotland and we are overwhelmed with the support we’ve had.  And I have to say as well not just from referees, I think that’s really, really important to get.  If you listen over the course of the week, the comments that we’ve had from football managers, from football players and from club chairmen, it really has been understanding and supportive of what we’re trying to achieve.  Now we know we’re hurting, we know that they’ll be hurting rather through the action that’s taken place this weekend and we regret that.  It’s a pity the games won’t go ahead.  We feel for that.  But we do nevertheless can really appreciate that they know where we’re coming from and they understand why we’re doing it.  And I think ultimately they think we’re right.



Chick Young

It is the game at Tannadice that kicked this all off?  Is that what kicked this all off?



John McKendrick

No I think that’s far too simple.  I think what you have is you have a culture there but it’s fine to, you know, take it too far when you’re criticising referees.  I think certainly the last five weeks have just built up and built up and got worse and worse, got to as we say a tipping point, an intolerable point that we just had to say enough’s enough.



Chick Young

It could have been avoided if action had been taken against Dougie McDonald, as Celtic wanted to happen.



Kenny MacIntyre

Do you think that could have stopped all this happening?



John McKendrick

No far too simple.  I mean I think to latch on to one incident, to criticise one referee, to turn it into a personal issue is not gonna solve the problem here.  The problem is much more fundamental.  The problem is to do with how we think it is just to criticise a referee after the game, nothing to do with points of play, taking a whole host of external factors into consideration, getting to the stage where, ridiculous as it is, I mean we know it’s ridiculous but asking us to say which team we support.  Absolute nonsense.



Kenny MacIntyre

We had a big discussion in Sportsound, we’ve got a massive response there.



Chick Young

John I wonder how you feel about the head of the Israeli referees, telling them that you’re sending guys over cos he was asked, but no explanation was given by the SFA as to why they needed the referees.  I find it curious I must say that they didn’t ask why they were needed but nevertheless no explanation was offered.  Do you find that strange?



John McKendrick

Slightly disappointed, let’s just say slightly disappointed, yeah.  I don’t think it’s strange because the SFA are in a difficult position, they have three high profile cup games to cover this weekend, we have an SFL cup final with contractual agreements to the SPL to fulfil.  I think there would have been a strong desire to get those games covered.  But certainly very disappointed that they haven’t been availed to the facts.



Chick Young

And before you came in we had Donald Findlay the chairman of Cowdenbeath and Lachlan Cameron the chairman of Ayr United on, expressing some disappointment, concern, call it what you will, that the Scottish cup replays seem to take priority over the SFL games.  Would you be able to proffer an explanation as to why the SFA would take that decision?



John McKendrick

No, no idea whatsoever.  I mean we feel for any game that’s off this weekend, it’s not what we’re about.  We’re referees, we’re part of football and it’s not a them and us, we are part of football and, you know, we do feel sorry for every club chairman, every player, every supporter who’s not out this weekend.



Kenny MacIntyre

Yeah but SPL, SFA, said in this programme on Monday night, they felt disappointed that you just sprung this upon them.  I mean could you have been more thoughtful?



John McKendrick

Well there were talks that went in advance of the decision that took place last week.  Certainly the decision was decisive.  What you had on Sunday was the first time that the category one referees had gathered since the start of the problems.  You had a mood that had built up over five weeks and you had decisive action taken from a strong and unanimous sense of injustice last weekend.  So when you think about it we’ve actually been very reasonable.  What we done is we announced this, well we intimated it on Sunday night, it was out there on Monday.  We gave the SFA, SPL and SFL ample time to come to an arrangement.  If we were interested in really ruining Scottish football we would have left it until today and we would have said oh we’re all unavailable and we’d have made sure it was impossible for those games to be covered.  We’re not daft.



Chick Young

That’s a point.  We talked about it in the office and I said that to Kenny.  I mean you could have sat here now as a spokesman and said incidentally we’re all on strike and the game would have been utterly and completely screwed.



Kenny MacIntyre

James in Edinburgh’s not happy Chick, he says are Radio Scotland trying to get the replacement referees to back out.  Disgraceful says James.



Chick Young

No.  Why would we be doing that?  I think it’s a pertinent question to ask the head of the Israeli referees who are sending replacements as to whether they were told the reasons that these guys were required.  I think that’s a pretty pertinent question and I think I would have been sacked if I’d not asked the question.



Kenny MacIntyre

There’s this talk of a charter.  I mean what have you asked for, from the SFA?



John McKendrick

We’ve asked for nothing, we’ve asked for nothing as yet.  What we’re wanting to, I think, is to have this day of reflection.  I think that’s a useful way to look at it, a weekend of reflection, where we take stock, we think about what kind of football we want and then we move forward.  And I think the time for talking about, you know, practical steps to improve what Scottish refereeing should be or Scottish football should be, and this should start from Monday.



Kenny MacIntyre

Is it true you want managers or club chairmen to sign up to some code of conduct?



John McKendrick

No that is not something that we asked.  That wasn’t reported in the way that the discussions took place.



Kenny MacIntyre

But there are those that would say, as a referee, you surely expect to come in and get criticised on all levels?



John McKendrick

No not on all levels.  To be criticised when we’re factually incorrect or we make errors that are to do with erroneous interpretation of the laws of the game, you’re right we should be criticised in that.  We are criticised in that actually.  We meet once a month for training exercises and that once a month we put up the last month’s decision, good, bad and indifferent, usually a combination of very good and a combination of must do better.  And we learn from our mistakes.  We have no problem with criticism.  We do have problem when criticism is based on questioning our integrity.  That’s where the line is crossed and that’s what’s happened over the last five weeks.



Kenny MacIntyre

And you don’t feel you’ve had the sufficient support from the SFA on that?



John McKendrick





This is the reply to the ECU based on the information provided.

Date: 18 Feb 2011

Dear  Mr YYYYY

Thank you for your detailed reply of 16th February and the enclosed transcript, I appreciate the time and effort put into the reply and your case that BBC Editorial Guidelines were not breached. My argument was that lines of impartiality had been crossed and that the BBC had favoured one side of the debate more than the other and that the SFA were being undermined by the approach BBC Sportsound had taken to reporting the issue.

I was glad to see from the script at


Kenny MacIntyre

James in Edinburgh’s not happy Chick, he says are Radio Scotland trying to get the replacement referees to back out.  Disgraceful says James.


that I was not alone in thinking this to be the case.

I was also intrigued by this reference earlier in the script


Chick Young

Well Yariv just to give you some idea, we’ve spoken to a number of referee associations throughout Europe over the past few days, you know for example the referees in Iceland were asked if they would officiate, when they heard the complaints that the Scottish referees had they said there would be absolutely no way they would travel over to Scotland.  They felt it would be doing a disservice to their Scottish footballing colleagues, their refereeing colleagues.


that raises the following questions:

Who is the “we” who spoke to other referee associations and who exactly informed those associations of the reasons for the referee’s strike?

If it was BBC employees is that in fact their job? Should the correct course of impartial action not have been to suggest that those overseas associations contact both the SFA and the referee’s association in Scotland for clarification?

This takes me to the introduction of Mr McKendrick at precisely the moment he came on the scene. The same question has to be asked – should he have been given the opportunity to air the referee’s position without an SFA representative being given the same kind of opportunity to air theirs?

Finally in responding to James of Edinburgh (see above) Mr Young said


Chick Young

No.  Why would we be doing that?  I think it’s a pertinent question to ask the head of the Israeli referees who are sending replacements as to whether they were told the reasons that these guys were required.  I think that’s a pretty pertinent question and I think I would have been sacked if I’d not asked the question.



Whilst it might well have been pertinent, the chances are Mr Young already knew from what was gleaned from contacts with the other referee associations (see the references) what the answer from the Israeli representative would be, which paved the way for the introduction of Mr McKendrick, who just happened to be in the studio to give an answer.

It might have made for good broadcasting revealing to the Israeli representative the case of the Scottish referee’s on air, but just by doing it publicly he was not in the same position to respond as he would have been had he heard both sides of the story privately.

I am prepared to accept that the case that guidelines were not breached may well stand on the grounds that the interaction during the show attempted at even handedness, but in my view structurally the build up to and so the presentation of the show itself was flawed and leaned too far in one direction.

The key questions (and it may well not be an editorial issue but one of preparation) are:

Did BBC employees at any time inform overseas referees of the situation surrounding the strike during the build up to the programme?

If yes, should they have done so?

Was it right and impartial of Sportsound to facilitate the informing of the Israeli referee representative and not offer the same kind of opportunity to the SFA CEO to present his case?

Scotland badly needs a BBC that all the populace trusts will act with impartiality and when something like the Sportsound programme creates the conditions, no matter how unintentionally, to question that impartiality, I think it worth raising the questions I have raised to restore confidence and prevent the same conditions arising.

Yours sincerely

Xxx XxXxx

This is a reproduction of the last written reply from the BBC where I decided it was time to draw the line.


Mr x xxxxx

Xx xxxxxxx


14 March 2011

Dear Mr Xxxxxxx

I refer to your complaint about the BBC Scotland Sportsound programme of 27 November 2010, to which, I understand, you have recently received a response from the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit.

I note from your original complaint that you were unhappy with the thoroughness of the investigation into what the referees were complaining about. While I do appreciate that the tone and content of the piece may not have been to your liking, the issues behind the strike were aired and assessed quite rigorously over the period on a number of programmes, with commentators and others offering a range of views and perspectives.

I am sorry that you were disappointed by the approach to this story, which you feel fell below your expectations, but I hope you will continue to listen to, and enjoy, the coverage across the remainder of the season.

Yours sincerely

Head of Public Policy & Corporate Affairs

BBC Scotland.

Final Word: Make your own mind up but read up on dysconscious sectarianism. It is now time that there was some serious dialogue on this particular aspect of something in the media that encourages sectarianism in our society, a dialogue that should start at Government level and involve the media, not be left solely to civil and football authority to address. Unless there is, the problem never will be faced.