Former ref Charlie Richmond defends Scottish official standards

Highlights - St Mirren 1-1 Celtic

Refereeing standards in Scottish football have not dropped this season despite high-profile mistakes, according to a former referee.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon was unhappy with referee Bobby Madden in the draw with St Mirren and also questioned standards in the top flight.

However, former Grade One official Charlie Richmond defended referees.

"I don't think the standard of refereeing is going down, it's levelled," he told BBC Scotland.

Lennon was unhappy with the referee's display in Paisley, with midfielder Victor Wanyama shown a red card and the hosts being awarded a controversial penalty after Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have tripped Esmael Goncalves.

St Mirren also believed they should have been awarded a spot kick for a Georgios Samaras hand ball.

And the Buddies had a goal chalked off when Gary Teale's cross from the left sailed directly in, but the referee decided Paul Dummett had fouled Fraser Forster in the process.

"That is by far the most appalling refereeing performance I've seen this season," said Lennon afterwards.

"For both sides. How he got so many big decisions wrong in one day is beyond me.

"I've been pretty concerned for the last couple of months about the abhorrent decisions I've seen - not just against my team but in general in the Scottish game."

Richmond believes Madden was correct to disallow the early St Mirren goal but conceded the referee should have awarded a penalty for handball against Samaras.

Wanyama, in Richmond's view, should have been shown the yellow card for his challenge on McGowan.

And the former Grade One official feels St Mirren should not have been awarded a penalty for Izaguirre's challenge on Goncalves.

"Over recent weeks the mistakes have been high profile and advertised in the media," added Richmond. "That's always going to bring that argument round about whether television evidence is going to be used.

"I don't think the standard of refereeing is going down, it's levelled. But I don't think it's gone up either."

Match officials failed to award Hibs a goal in last month's Edinburgh derby when Leigh Griffiths's free-kick crossed the line.

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon described the blunder in the 0-0 draw as "embarrassing".

However, Former Grade One referee Kenny Clark said the officials followed correct protocols.

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