STEWART ROBERTSON, the Rangers Managing Director, has stepped up calls for changes to the Scottish FA disciplinary procedures as he highlighted concerns over the ‘trial by Sportscene’ nature of the current system.
Rangers have had several run-ins with the Hampden hierarchy this season and suffered a double blow last week when Allan McGregor and Alfredo Morelos were given suspensions following incidents in their win at Aberdeen.
The actions of Compliance Officer Clare Whyte have increasingly come up for debate and scrutiny and Robertson believes crucial alterations need to be made to the process.
He said: “I think there are a couple of things we could do. I think we could go back to the interpretation of the rules we had last season where it was violent conduct and off-the-ball incidents in-essence that were being re-reviewed.
“That way, you are not re-refereeing games and you are not going back to every incident and re-refereeing and examining it in minute detail.
“You’re not having television pundits effectively setting the agenda of what should be reviewed on a Monday morning.
“I also think we need to look at VAR. It is the direction of travel in football and we need to be looking at it seriously to give the referees all the assistance we can.
“I heard a stat the other day it takes decisions from 93 per cent accurate to 98 per cent accurate. We are not going to get 100 per cent accuracy but it is going to help, and if we have tools and technology which can help us let’s use them and let’s take the pressure off the referees. That in itself will help them to referee the games better.
“We have had informal contact from the SFA and we wrote to them last week requesting we have a detailed review of the disciplinary system.
“I am sure they will be in touch informally with us but from the discussions we have had informally, I know there are a lot of other clubs who have similar views on how they system is working at the moment and the inconsistencies which are being created by the way in which the system is being interpreted.”
The lack of consistency in how punishments are handed out, or not in many cases, has frustrated managers, players and supporters throughout the campaign.
A series of high-profile cases have brought the disciplinary system under the spotlight and Robertson believes there is too much emphasis placed on highlights coverage provided by BBC Scotland.
He said: “There is no doubt [it has altered since the new Compliance Officer came in]. Clare came in at the start of this season and there is no doubt things have been dealt with differently this year.
“Some of the incidents which have been reviewed this year wouldn’t have been reviewed last year. That is leading to the confusion – there is much more inconsistency and it definitely feels as if we are re-refereeing games.
“It also feels as though the incidents, which are being highlighted on the television at the weekend, are the incidents which are being picked up by the compliance officer on a Monday.
“I’ve heard the expression ‘trial by TV’ or ‘trial by Sportscene’ and that really seems to be the way it is going.
“Now, we understand complaints come in from all sorts of avenues but the correlation between what is shown on television at the weekend and what is then being reviewed on a Monday and the notice of complaints which then appear is very high.
“I don’t know [why the Compliance Officer is doing that] is the honest answer. I assume it is her interpretation of the rules which are there, but I don’t think there is any doubt – and talking to various clubs, and I think this is where we need all the clubs to speak with one voice and at least get around the table and debate what should change – there is definitely a change.
“We don’t know why that has happened but we believe we should be looking to go back to the previous system.”
Rangers called for a review of the disciplinary rules and regulations as a matter of ‘extreme urgency’ after McGregor failed to have his two-game ban overturned on appeal last week.
And, in an interview of the official Rangers website, Robertson has highlighted the Light Blues’ turbulent relationship with BBC Scotland as a potential conflict.
He told RangersTV: “We understand incidents are highlighted from all sorts of sources. The correlation with Sportscene is obviously very high.
“We, as a club, have our own issues with the BBC Scotland. BBC have refused to attend Ibrox since November 2015 – and the dispute has gone on much longer than that.
“They recently asked to come to Ibrox, but only to cover the matches. They would not be interviewing our manager and our players.
“Now, if they are treating us differently in that respect, are there other areas where they are also treating Rangers differently in terms of the incidents which we are seeing being highlighted at the weekend.
“You only have to look at the Alfredo Morelos incident in the Old Firm game, where they seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time examining Alfredo’s actions, but at no time at all did they look at any other actions from that game with the same scrutiny.
“Morelos was then effectively vilified for three weeks on various BBC platforms. So you have to question if they are treating us differently – they have confirmed in writing that they are treating us differently from every other Premiership club – where else are they treating us differently?”