System has failed referee at the centre of storm, says SFA chief

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has expressed sympathy for Dougie McDonald, who has retired as a category one referee. McDonald stepped down on Sunday night in an attempt to move the spotlight away from his role in the crisis engulfing Scottish football.

McDonald's decision to rescind a penalty he had awarded to Celtic last month, and subsequent admission that he had misled his supervisor and Hoops' manager Neil Lennon over the circumstances, sparked the escalation of events leading to last weekend's referees' strike action. Regan, who earlier this month rebuked McDonald for his "white lie" at Tannadice, said: "I feel sorry for him. The system has let him down. He was clearly in the wrong, he admitted that and was punished. I feel many out there have decided his punishment wasn't serious enough and as a result he's been left with huge pressure on him. There's a lesson in there for Scottish football. We need to put processes in place to give these guys the backing they need."

In an effort to avert last weekend's strike action, which saw four Scottish Premier League games played using officials from Luxembourg, Israel and Malta – two others were postponed on Sunday as a result of bad weather – the SFA offered referees a range of conciliatory measures, including a blanket ban on comments about match officials. But the officials insisted they would not back down as they ruled out any chance of a "quick fix". Regan yesterday reiterated his desire for criticism of officials to be dealt with "more seriously and with urgency".

He said: "We've made promises about taking tougher action. The way decisions are made involves committees. We need to be much quicker and consistent with punishments and be seen to be taking the issue a lot more seriously and with urgency."

Former top official Stuart Dougal has called for points deductions for clubs who repeatedly question the integrity of referees.

Regan did not rule out the sanction, but insisted the measure would take some time to implement and may not be welcomed by the SFA's member clubs. "I wouldn't personally take that course of action without detailed consultation with member clubs," added Regan. "It's one of a series of measures, an interesting one – I'm not sure the clubs would support that."

Regan also expressed his gratitude to the European officials who enabled Saturday's matches to go ahead after his contingency plan was employed, albeit with a number of stumbling blocks following late changes of heart by Polish and Portuguese referees.

"They were great, they supported the SFA and ensured the public were able to go to matches and we were grateful," added Regan.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor