Referee McDonald gets SFA backing over penalty U-turn

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The Independent Football

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has backed referee Dougie McDonald over his penalty U-turn during Celtic's 2-1 SPL victory over Dundee United on Sunday. With the scores tied at Tannadice, McDonald pointed to the spot when the United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis challenged Gary Hooper, only to order a drop-ball following talks with his assistant, Steven Craven.

Television pictures appeared to back the linesman's decision as Pernis touched the ball, but McDonald came in for fierce criticism after the match from both managers. That prompted the SFA's head of referees development, Hugh Dallas, to defend McDonald, an experienced official.

Dallas said: "I think the main thing is that the final decision that was taken was correct. And the referee is well within his rights to change his mind as long as he has not restarted play.

"Dougie, after having given the decision, then received information from the assistant referee that the goalkeeper had played the ball. There is a really good replay of the incident from the offside-line camera, which clearly shows the ball changing direction – and that was something that Dougie did not enjoy at the time. So the decision was overturned and it's not the first time that has happened this season. "

United's manager Peter Houston accused McDonald of being "very inconsistent" after the game and claimed the referee was quick to give penalties against his team. But Dallas pointed out: "We criticise match officials when they get things wrong and here we are criticising them when they get things right."

Hooper went on to snatch a late winner but the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, claimed the situation was "unacceptable" after speaking to McDonald during the game and seeing a replay of the incident after the match. However, Dallas claimed that Lennon had changed his opinion after further discussion.

"Neil Lennon took the time to go to the referee's dressing room about 40 minutes after the match was concluded," the former World Cup referee explained. "They had a discussion and Neil accepted that the decision was correct. It was just unusual."