Home   Sport   Article

Are football referees 'ruling by fear' or holding 'one-way conversations'? Forres Mechanics manager Steven MacDonald wants Highland League match officials to communicate better with players and coaches

By Craig Christie

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Disbelief with a red card decision on Saturday sparked an appeal by Forres Mechanics manager Steven MacDonald for common sense to prevail.

Steven MacDonald - manager of Forres Mechanics FC...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Steven MacDonald - manager of Forres Mechanics FC...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Cans' striker Shaun Morrison was shown a straight red after using a swear word in his appeal to referee Owen Lawrence that he had been pushed by an opponent but no foul was given.

The dismissal came in the 13th minute of the match and although Cans battled on manfully with ten men for most of the contest, they lost 1-0 to a second half Lloyd Robertson goal.

The contentious call prompted MacDonald to urge referees to build up a "better rapport" with players and coaches for the benefit of the game.

He added that the Highland League has several very good match officials, ones who "communicate with common sense and humility" while doing a difficult job on the field.

Video footage of Saturday's red card incident shows Morrison being knocked to the deck as a Locos player challenged him for a header. The Forres player appealed to the referee, apparently saying: "That was a ******* shove", prompting Lawrence to immediately brandish the red card.

Watch match highlights (below) on Inverurie Loco Works' Facebook page - there is no sound on the majority of this video.

MacDonald admitted his player shouldn't have sworn in his frustration but said foul language was part and parcel of the sport, and sending players off when they use abusive words will change nothing.

"I am certainly not condoning Shaun using an explicit word, but I don’t think it was a personal attack at the referee and I’m afraid that such language is a common occurrence in the passionate and emotional game of football," he said.

Forres forward Shaun Morrison was controversially red carded. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Forres forward Shaun Morrison was controversially red carded. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"To change that is not just going to take flashing red cards but more a massive cultural and educational overhaul from authorities at the top and everyone throughout football.

"Referees should certainly not suffer any sort of abuse, but I think most people in attendance on Saturday thought the referee had spoilt the game with his over-sensitive reaction to what really wasn’t a big issue.

"What was probably the most concerning thing for me was that the referee thought his decision gained him respect in the game. I felt it was quite the opposite.

"Perhaps it gave him fear from the players but is this really the best way of dealing with such situations?

"It’s a bit like 'receiving the belt at school' argument. Is that helping gain respect or more ruling by fear and does it really help fix anything longer term?

"There must be a better solution. In my opinion, coaches, players and referees need to have a better rapport. Currently I think there is very little affinity or collaborating and Saturday highlighted this."

MacDonald himself was shown a red card during last Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Keith for dissent, but highlighted what he felt was arrogance from the referee in a comment during the derby contest.

"Similarly, on Wednesday against Keith, I witnessed off-the-scale arrogance and ego from the referee with quotes like 'this is a one-way conversation, not a two-way communication'. There is no need for it.

"There are some very good referees in the Highland League and I think that is because the good ones communicate with common sense and humility in what is clearly a very tough job.

Referees are seemingly always being monitored by an ‘Assessor’ and as a result appear scared for their lives to make a wrong decision so I don’t think that helps the situation.

There is no easy answer but for the good of football and for things to improve we all have to look at working better together, building respect between each other and not just having ‘one-way conversations’.

Morrison will now be suspended for Mechanics' home league match against Huntly tomorrow night.

The Cans ranks could be depleted, with captain Lee Fraser, goalkeeper Lee Herbert, recent signing Ryan McRitchie, fellow stopper Andrew Skinner and key midfielder Craig Mackenzie all missing.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More