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SFA messenger McFarlane breaks the confidence over Crawford Allan’s secret meeting

Jonny McFarlane has been spilling the beans about a cosy off the record briefing given to football reporters by Crawford Allan.

The double surnamed Head of Refereeing at the SFA has overseen a 68 match run where one club hasn’t conceded a penalty in the SPFL. That run has stretched to 22 months covering three managers but is under embargo from mainstream outlets.

Allan’s cosy meeting was to divert attention away from that 68 match run which has kept the Ibrox Tribute Act in contention for the title rather than battling it out for third or fourth place in the Premiership.

Coming from the meeting McFarlane, Head of Digital Sport at Newsquest, owners of the Herald, Rangers Review and the Celtic Way has painted a heroic picture of referees battling against public condemnation as they apply the Laws of the Game without fear or favour.

The reality is that most of them are middle class professionals enjoying a very lucrative second income where they can indulge their childhood dreams, almost all referees on the FIFA list come from Glasgow and Lanarkshire.

After getting his instructions, McFarlane tells Herald readers:

Imagine having your integrity questioned by barely informed pundits who demonstrate a bizarre belligerence toward reading the actual laws of the game. Some of them will argue about what the rule should be rather than what it is. Others base their opinions on what referees might have allowed 30 years ago. More still are simply seeking a controversial bonfire to keep themselves relevant.

It is in this hysteria, that the men in black have to go about their business. So perhaps they are entitled to be slightly defensive.

In spite of this, the Scottish press was invited to a largely off-the-record meeting at Hampden last week to give an update on how VAR has been going. What was clear from a meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours was that Crawford Allan, the head of refereeing is trying to be more open and modernise how his department communicates. 

The previous incumbent, the late John Fleming gave the distinct impression he could quote the last 30 years of IFAB laws off the top of his head but was not someone who seemed terribly predisposed to opening his department up for scrutiny. Allan, by comparison, is taking steps to change perceptions of a closed shop.

Allan thinks that a cosy Q and A with the on-message Gordon Duncan going over three obvious VAR decisions from months ago counts as transparency.

Two years ago when Kris Boyd and Robbie Neilson were squealing about a Celtic goal Allan decided to go on Radio Scotland to say that the goal MIGHT have been offside.

There might be Scottish officials at the European Championships next summer in Germany, almost certainly they will be watching real referees at home on their televisions.

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