I read the above article on the BBC Sport web site with some interest. It is rather ironic to see a referee complaining about not being protected from players when on many occasions, referees fail to protect the players by applying the rules of the game with consistency.
I have seen Mr. Dougal referee many games and have not been impressed by his approach. In fact at times, there has seemed to be a touch of bias in his decision-making. Of course, he is not alone in that regard both in Scotland and in England.
If referees want to be treated fairly then they have to play fair themselves. Too many times I have seen a player being red-carded for an innocuous tackle only to see an other player (usually on the opposing side) not even being spoken to for a wild tackle that could have easily broken his target’s leg.
Further, referees are responsible for making decisions that can sometimes decide the outcome of a game. It is therefore essential that they get it right. If they don’t, they should not be so surprised to find they are the subject of the players’ frustration. Whilst no-one can excuse Neil Lennon’s actions at the end of the game in question, I think the referee’s performance on the day left a lot to be desired too.
As players are subjected to bans and other penalties for their misdemeanours, perhaps referees who make decisions that are clearly poor should also be subjected to some form of sanction. If a ref can’t apply the rules consistently with the aid of three assistants and video replays of incidents, then that ref has no business taking charge of any game, let alone a high-profile one where emotions will be running higher than normal!