SPL to start on time as referees agree deal

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The Scottish Premier League has confirmed their season will start on time this weekend after they agreed to pay referees £800 per game. Referees were reportedly considering strike action if they did not receive a 40 per cent increase on their £575 match fee, but they have now secured a new deal and agreed to cooperate with a review of their pay in the coming weeks.

SPL operations director Iain Blair said: "Contrary to speculation earlier today, the Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures this weekend will go ahead as planned."

The Scottish Senior Referees' Association expect the review to cement their interim rise, and they are optimistic that comparisons with leagues on the continent will take their pay above the provisional £800 figure.

The union, headed by referee Stuart Dougal, has been looking for the fees to rise to £1,000 by 2010. The new deal announced today will also see assistant referees receiving an increase to £400 and fourth officials to £200.

Dougal said: "The SSFRA today agreed the figure as the accepted fee structure for SPL games for the coming season. This allows the season to begin as scheduled on Saturday. We have further agreed to engage in a benchmarking process with appropriate European leagues."

Blair added: "At a meeting today with the SFA and the SSFRA, the SPL undertook to carry out a benchmarking exercise across European football to establish the appropriate fees going forward."