SPL referee Brian Winter dismisses favouritism regarding SFA officials



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor



44-year old Winter (pictured) has been a referee since December 1993- officiating in the Scottish Premier League since June 2002


Scottish referee Brian Winter has dispelled the public claims by former colleague Charlie Richmond that there is favouritism amongst officials in the SPL.

43-year old former FIFA match official Richmond resigned earlier this month after being snubbed by the Scottish Football Association for overseeing top-flight games this season- being in the middle for just five this campaign. He expressed his disappointment in being "marginalised" by those in charge of match officials and some of his colleagues. However, Winter said the best referees in Scotland would always be given a chance to shine and there will not be a barrier in the way of younger and promising officials coming through. He also suggested that there is no "sooking up" in order to try and "get in the good books" of members of the SFA.

Richmond, who claimed he was not favoured, is the second Category One official to step down from their duties in the past month after Steve Conroy's decision to resign.

"Young referees will go on the same learning curve as all the referees have done, including Charlie and myself," said Winter. "And if they show ability and work hard then they will get their chance. You need to put the shift in and that also means fulfilling the role of the grade one referee. You have to be a role model for younger referees. You have to promote yourself in your local referees' association, you have to attend 70% of the training sessions and attend monthly meetings. I don't know if Charlie didn't get the games latterly because he didn't do that, but I don't think it is a case of sucking up to the right people. It is a case of working hard and listening to good advice and I'm sure Charlie did that. I get on well with Charlie, he was fourth official to me at a recent game and I sensed that he was unhappy then. But Charlie is an excellent referee, he devoted a lot of time to refereeing and should be commended for that. It is unfortunate because the game needs guys like him, he had so much to offer and now that is lost."


Richmond resigned earlier this month after being overlooked for Scottish Premier League matches this season

Winter, aged 44, has officiated 11 top-flight games this season but will retire at the end of the campaign because of a long-term knee injury. He was talked out of resigning himself just two years ago after a blunder in an SPL match involving St Johnstone and Dundee United when he failed to send off Saints defender Steven Anderson despite showing him two yellow cards. 

Head of the SFA John Fleming has reiterated that referee appointments are based on the officials' position on the merits table and are based on ability and their performance level. Fleming also stated his desire to challenge more match officials into taking charge of the bigger SPL matches in future seasons- such as Steven McLean, Bobby Madden and Alan Muir.

John McKendrick, chairman of the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association, added it was "deeply offensive" to suggest "referees are getting where they get to not on the basis of their ability".  

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