Welsh referees to cross Scottish picket line

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The Independent Football

Welsh referees are set to take charge of Scottish matches this weekend with strike action by officials looming.

The Football Association of Wales has agreed to send a team of four to Scotland, according to the Western Mail.

FAW head of competitions Andrew Howard said: "This is a great opportunity for Welsh referees to officiate at a high level.

"But I must stress that our main priority is that all the football in Wales is covered first, like any usual weekend."

The plan is for the unnamed four-man team to cover Saturday and Sunday fixtures, with the referee for the first game becoming the fourth official for the second and vice-versa.

Scottish refereeing chiefs will resume dialogue with the Scottish Football Association today - after a "constructive" start to the crunch talks.

Referees on Sunday voted to withdraw their labour, bringing this weekend's scheduled Clydesdale Bank Premier League, Irn Bru Football League and Alba Challenge Cup final fixtures into doubt.

But discussions are set to carry over into today, with the prospect of averting a weekend strike seemingly possible.

A spokesman for grade one match officials told Press Association Sport: "After a constructive three-hour meeting with the SFA, talks are due to continue (on Wednesday).

"But the situation is that the weekend position is unaltered at present."

Scottish officials have had enough of the abuse and criticism which they claim has been on the increase this season.

And since news of the strike emerged, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has been scouring Europe for replacements.

However, Rune Pedersen, head of referees for the Norwegian FA, said officials in Norway would not be making themselves available this weekend.

Sigurdur Thorleifsson, head of the referees' union in Iceland, initially said Icelandic referees would be ready to help.

However, a U-turn was performed after discussion with Scottish referees.

Press Association Sport also understands that while official contact has not yet been made with the Football Association of Ireland, there have been informal and preliminary discussions.

However, it is believed that Irish referees would not be receptive to an approach from the SFA.