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Strachan calls for independent match observers

Gordon Strachan has urged the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football Association to consider appointing an independent observer at matches in a bid to minimise the touchline disharmony he believes is caused by interference from the fourth official.
The Celtic manager said yesterday that experienced former players and managers could act as observers and could be important in alleviating the tension experienced by managers during games because they would be more impartial than fourth officials.
Strachan is facing two counts of misconduct in the report submitted to the SFA by Stuart Dougal, the referee at Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Hearts. Dougal sent Strachan to the stand at Tynecastle on the advice of Calum Murray, the fourth official. Strachan will receive an automatic two-match touchline ban for that offence, while a half-time exchange of views has also been mentioned.
Strachan approached Dougal at the interval and was told he would be given an explanation of his dismissal once the 15-minute "cooling-down" period took place after the final whistle. It is understood that the manager is alleged to have made comments about that period providing an opportunity for Dougal and Murray to get their stories straight. His case is expected to be heard by the SFA's disciplinary committee on September 19.
Strachan said yesterday: "We need an independent observer. Someone like Alex Smith [the former manager] standing there saying: 'Gordon, just calm down.' The fourth official is part of the association. He [an independent observer] could see if there is an incident. Whatever I say against a fourth official, I've no chance."
Strachan also suggested that the implementation of fourth officials has removed the traditional interaction between opposing managers and, rather than eliminating any ill-feeling, contributes to the pressures and, thus, proves counter-productive.
"It takes the fun away," he said. "I ran for the ball with
the other manager [Valdas Ivanauskas] on Sunday and we had a laugh. He threw his arms up for the first booking and said: 'Never.' I turned to him and said: 'You're right.' It's all about interaction and fun but you are on tenterhooks now."
Dougal also dismissed John McGlynn, the Hearts assistant manager, for his role in the touchline row, which also involved Garry Pendrey, Strachan's assistant. The referee, who yesterday helped launch Specsavers' three-year, £600,000 extension of its sponsorship deal with the match officials, said the matter was now closed from his point of view.
"All I can say is that I've done what was asked by
the SFA in reporting events and following protocol," said Dougal. "My reports are now with the SFA and it's really a matter for them now.
"You move on for the benefit of the game and yourself. I've been at the top level for more than 12 years now and I always just consider it finished and concentrate on the next game."
Dougal argues the 15-minute after-match "cooling-down" period is successful in limiting heated disputes with managers.
"Emotions run high in football," he said. "There are times when managers and coaches want to ask referees questions but, 15 minutes later, they don't want to. I think it's a good idea. If everyone embraces the system, then it's fine."
Strachan has found himself in trouble with fourth officials before. Last season, he was warned for complaining about Inverness Caledonian Thistle's protocol in kicking the ball out to allow treatment to an injured player. A similar scenario was at the root of the dug-out dispute at Tynecastle.
"I've had two problems since I got here," he said. "In Inverness and against Hearts. In both instances it was about when to kick the ball out.
It had nothing to do with linesmen or referees."
Dougal said he agreed the issue has become a problem in recent years and insisted stoppages in play should be left to the sole discretion of the referee. The increased use of radio communication between match officials, aided by the Specsavers sponsorship, could also help with this.
"In the past, players did [kick the ball out] for all the right reasons," said Dougal. "But I think recently it's become a wee bit abused in terms of where they actually put the ball out. Just leave it up to the referees. Communication can again help here if the assistant sees that an injury is more serious than it might first appear."

Taken from the Herald

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